Endometriosis appears when resambling little bits of uterine lining grow outside the uterus, in the abdominal or pelvic areas. Still, there are cases when these adhesions occur in other parts of the body, making the illness even much more serious.
Its causes are not entirely known, but it is believed that genetic factors, diet, pollution or even lifestyle can increase the risk of endometriosis. Women with heavy and painful periods, ovarian cysts or uterine polyps or the ones with a hormonal imbalance should ask their doctors about this illness.
At the present moment, medicine provides only temporary treatments such as hormonal pills and surgical intervention. Even if through excision laparoscopy the adhesions and cysts can be removed, the relief is only temporary and endometriosis could appear again and again.
This is why an alternative approach should be considered, of course, after you consult your doctor and see what approach is suitable for you. Eliminating stress as much as you can, doing yoga, Pilates or other workouts, taking natural supplements and, even more important, making dietary changes – all these can help women with endometriosis. Yet, there is no guarantee the disease will not return, but the risks are lower.
Therefore, here are 10 useful dietary guidelines you should follow if you suffer from endometriosis.
Cut off estrogen foods/products
As certain types of breast cancer, endometriosis is an estrogenic dominant illness. The body cannot take out estrogen and there is a hormonal imbalance that can cause those adhesions, ovarian cysts, bloating or other symptoms. Yet, the causes are much more complex and the “estrogenic cause” is only a part of this puzzle.
Thus, it would be wise to cut off as much as you can all estrogenic food and products such as soy, synthetic, processed and canned foods, artificial sweeteners, meat, bear, make up products, cleaning products etc. Nowadays, it is very hard to completely avoid all these things, but keep in mind you should have a natural diet, with simple, bio food as much as you can.
Avoid meat, sugar, cow/sheep dairy and wheat
A study published in Human Reproduction Oxford Journals (http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/19/8/1755.long) showed meat, especially red meat increased a lot the risks of having endometriosis. On the other hand, the same study suggests a serving of green vegetables every day significantly lowers these risks.
Sugar, on the other hand, raises blood sugar and insulin levels, changes that favor endometriosis outbreaks and destabilize even more the hormonal system. Furthermore, in Chinese Traditional Medicine it is believed that endometriosis is causes by high glycemic index foods.
Dairy produces inflammation in the body, a state that also favors endo flare-ups. If you like dairy, choose goat cheese, but do not eat it more that 2-3 times a week.
Wheat or gluten it is a proven enemy of women with endometriosis. A study made in 2012 and published in US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health showed painful symptoms of endometriosis decreased after 12 months of gluten free diet. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23334113
Other bad foods
Except these four main categories, there are other foods you may want to avoid during this anti-endo diet. Canned or frozen food are not good as they often give bloatind and pain. Soy, foods with hormones and fats (except coconut oil and olive oil) are not recommended. Dried fruit are not a wise pick as they contain a lot of sugar. There are opinions that link endometriosis with a poor function of the liver so alcohol would not be a good choice either.
Green vegetables (kale, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, zuchinni), quinoa, brown rice, fruits (pay attention with very sweet ones), chia seeds, peas and green beans, fish – all are good for endometriosis.
The most important think you should learn during this process it would be to listen to your body. Even if these are general guidelines, our bodies react different so make a diet journal when you can keep a record of your food experience.
As much lycopene foods
Lycopene is a very important substance for women with endometriosis. A research released at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine Conference in San Francisco (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1084992/Eating-tomatoes-fights-painful-womb-condition-affecting-2-million-UK-women.html) showed lycopene can treat endo adhesions. Good sources of lycopene are tomatoes (especially cooked), melon, papaya, grapefruit, red peppers (especially cooked), asparagus (especially cooked), red cabbage, mango, carrots.
Resveratrol blocks endometriosis
At least these are the results of a study from Germany (http://www.hormonesmatter.com/resveratrol-from-red-grapes-blocks-endometriosis/) . Resveratrol from red grapes has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties and it can inhibit the growth of endometriosic adhesions. More research is needed, but you can start adding red grapes into the weekly fruit salads.
Oats reduce endometriosis pains
Researchers from Colombia University say oats can help in reducing endometriosis pains up to 60%, within six months (http://www.ivillage.com/reduce-endometrial-pain-eating-oats/4-b-334141) . Yet, be careful as oats can be gluten contaminated. Choose a safe source of gluten free oats.
Fish oil – a “must have” in anti endometriosis diet
It seams fish oil containing EPA and DHA can inhibit the formation of endometriosis adhesions. This is the result of a study published in US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3582352/). Therefore, besides adding fish in your weekly diet, consider taking some fish oil supplements.
Eggs – a controversial choice
Opinions are divided regarding eggs and many endometriosis sufferers avoid them. Yet, as the above study mentioned too, arachidonic acid is also very important as it lowers the risks of severe endometriosis cases. As eggs contain arachidonic acid, it would be a good start to consume 2-3 eggs a week and to see how your body reacts to this.
Seaweed if you have underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
Seaweed benefits are numerous: vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, manganese, proteins, fiber, antioxidants and a high iodine content.
As many endo patients have low iodine levels, seaweed, taken as a powder or tablets, can rebalance the overall health and, most important, they can help to remove the excess estrogen in your body. Seaweed (such as Kelp or Chlorella) are also beneficial for uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts and all estrogen dominant conditions.http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2005/02/02_kelp.shtml
Have a regular diet schedule
You can either choose three main meals a day and two snacks or you can see how your body reacts with more frequent, but not so hearty meals. As bloating is a serious issue with endometriosis, eat fruits only between meals, at about 2-3 hours after a meal.
L.E: I first wrote this article in Romanian, in 2014. As a personal experience, now, after 5 years, I should add you must always listen to your body and its particularities. For examples, lycopene food are very good for health and endometriosis, but not if you have serious gut problems. In this case, you should stay on gut healing path and then add tomatoes. The same happens with resveratrol (found in red wine) that in some women with endometriosis can give pains and raise estrogen. Therefore, know the studies, make changes but meanwhile listen to your body!
an article by Marina Rasnoveanu