The basic principle of the diet to help with endometriosis is to remove foods that cause inflammation. Endometriosis already causes inflammation so you do not want to be adding to the problem by eating foods that make matters worse.
The other dietary issues to take on board to help endometriosis is to reduce foods that promote negative prostaglandins because they increase your symptoms of pain. Prostaglandins are very powerful - you can read more about them HERE
And finally, your diet needs to include foods that help you to balance your hormones and reduce your estrogen levels. A more detailed explanation of the diet to help with endometriosis is found HERE, but for now we will just concentrate on the issue of inflammation related to diet.
To begin with it is important to understand that inflammation by itself is a natural process. It is a natural bodily response to injury or illness, where the immune system goes into action and your army of white blood cells goes to the affected areas by increasing blood flow.
Due to this reaction there will be swelling, pain, redness, heat or discomfort. For example, when you have a cut it will turn red and puffy – that’s inflammation. It is part of a healthy response that aids healing.
But when the immune system over-reacts and starts attacking the healthy tissues as well, that is the kind of inflammation you don’t want. That is the kind of inflammation that causes excess pain and distress in the body.
The implants, cysts and adhesions that occur with endometriosis all cause an excess of the inflammatory response in the body. Your body is only trying to do what it should do, and that is to protect other nearby cells and organs from damage. But unfortunately, this protection process causes more inflammation.
Therefore, if you can reduce this inflammation from happening in the first place by changing what you eat, then it stands to reason you will feel less pain. And to help your body even further, if you eat foods that actually reduce inflammation in your body, this will help you even more and reduce your symptoms of pain because you are reducing the inflammation in your body.
The foods that are the worst culprits for increasing inflammation include:
Following an anti-inflammatory diet may seem limiting at first, but you will soon adjust to the changes. You may have to eliminate some of your favourite foods but there are alternatives you can use instead. It is better to make some dietary sacrifices rather than continue to feel the pain and distress caused by the inflammation with endometriosis.
Aim for plenty of fruits and vegetables with an emphasis on the veg. Try to make several of your veg servings using dark leafy greens since they contain powerful antioxidants. Also, its best to eat in season, eat local, and eat a varied diet to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need.
Have fatty fish at least 2 or 3 times a week, such as wild-caught salmon or mackerel which will help your pain as oily fish is high in omega-3’s, which can help reduce inflammation.
It helps to eat healthy fats and this includes olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and nuts/seeds.
If you really want to reduce
inflammation, it will help to increase your intake of the following foods:
Turmeric - The curcumin in turmeric blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, and this can help combat inflammation
Leafy green vegetables such as kale, chard, and spinach - green veggies are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols, which can help combat inflammation
Celery - celery is a natural anti-inflammatory. It contains luteolin, a phytochemical that has many health benefits. It has been shown to reduce inflammation in many parts of the body, including the brain.
Beets - helps fight inflammation and prevent cancer and heart disease
Pineapple - contains bromelain. Bromelain is a natural anti-inflammatory agent and controls swelling, bruising, and pain. Read more about bromelain here
Blueberries – packed with powerful compounds that fight inflammation and prevent cell damage
Cherries – especially dark cherries can reduce inflammation
Tomatoes - tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant found to fight inflammation. Also, cooked tomatoes offer more lycopene than raw ones.
Ginger - One study by the University of Miami concluded that ginger could be a substitute for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Garlic - Garlic contains an anti-inflammatory compound that helps fight inflammation and pain, and can help with cartilage damage.
Red peppers - Red peppers are rich in capsaicin, a chemical known to fight inflammation
Green tea – a substance in green tea helps with inflammation
Dark chocolate - Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants that reduce inflammation - try and get organic low sugar chocolate which will be all good to eat when you have endometriosis. Or you can make your own – see here
Olive oil - Olive oil is rich in oleic acid, which is known to fight inflammation
Coconut oil - the oil contains lauric acid, an important compound that fights inflammation.
Chia seeds – rich in omega 3’s
Flax seeds – packed full omega 3 oils
Salmon, tuna, mackerel – all packed with omega 3’s
Quinoa - Quinoa contains phytochemicals that help fight inflammation. It also contains saponins, other important compounds known to prevent inflammation.
The basic principle to reduce inflammation through your diet is to omit the foods as mentioned above, and then to help reduce inflammation even further, increase your intake of those foods that are anti-inflammatory.
Interestingly, most of the anti-inflammatory foods have additional health benefits, like pineapple which can reduce the sensation of pain with the compound of bromelain. And we all know of the many health benefits of garlic as being a great natural anti-biotic and its ability to support the immune system.
An anti-inflammatory diet will not reduce all your symptoms of pain caused by endometriosis, but its a good start. To really help with your pain, as mentioned earlier, you also need to change your diet by reducing the foods that promote the bad prostaglandins that increase pain, which you can read about here
If you are coming unstuck with what to eat there some endo friendly recipes which you will find here