Endometriosis - Diet and Nutrition
How diet changes can help reduce the symptoms of endometriosis
Changing what you eat to deal with Endometriosis is a really good foundation to assist you in reducing your symptoms, and will also help improve your overall health.
"Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food."
Many are aware that various illnesses and diseases have responded very positively to changes in diet, and endometriosis is no exception. There are plenty of positive feedback stories from others saying how they have improved significantly by making changes in their diet.
Those who want a basic understanding to the diet there is a quick start guide HERE
Changing your diet can help with the following:
- Reduce symptoms of pain
- Relieve cramps
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce bloating
- Reduce estrogen levels
- Balance blood sugar levels
- Reduce weight – estrogen is stored in fat and endometriosis is fed by estrogen
- Reduce toxins – found in e-numbers, additives, preservatives, pesticides, chemicals, anti-biotics used in animal husbandry
AND changing what you eat will also :
- Help increase energy levels
- Support your immune system
- Heal the gut - Leaky Gut, IBS, SIBO
Endo-resolved has been providing advice about the benefits of diet to help with the symptoms of endometriosis for a number of years. The advice here has been endorsed by Dr Camran Nezhat - the endometriosis specialist.
Diet to help Endometriosis
Changing the foods you eat and following a diet for endometriosis has had many scientific studies which you can read about here. Changing what you eat is a great way to start reducing the symptoms of endometriosis and provides a simple natural and healthy self help option.
The reason that certain foods make the symptoms of endometriosis worse is based on the chemical reactions in the body that are caused by these food groups.
The controlled diet for endometriosis eliminates these problem food groups and in turn this helps to reduce the negative chemical reactions and can help to reduce many of the symptoms of the disease.
The improvement in symptoms can include a reduction in pain, reduction of inflammation, and aims to reduce levels of estrogen in the body and thus reduce the opportunity of the disease to develop further.
So where do we start!
Pain and hormones in relation to diet …………
Endometriosis is fed by estrogen synthesis in the body. This can take the form of:
- your own natural estrogen which is produced in the body
- the estrogen that is taken up from excess foods that contain phyto-estrogens
- from chemical based estrogens that are found in toiletries and cosmetics in the form of xeno-estrogens
The correct diet can help to balance these different forms of estrogen
You also need to reduce your use of xeno-estrogens (found in highly chemical based cosmetics and toiletries) in order to reduce xeno-estrogens from your system - which can worsen symptoms.
As well as dealing with estrogen levels, you need to address the levels of prostaglandins in your body. Prostaglandins are very complex natural fatty acids and are derived from dietary sources. There are many different forms of prostaglandins and new types are still being discovered.
The painful menstrual cramps you feel are actually due to prostaglandins, as well as the pain symptoms of endometriosis. A change in diet can alter the level and the types of prostaglandins in your body.
We actually have two main 'types' of prostaglandins - there are the 'good ones' and the 'bad ones'.
The aim of the endometriosis diet is to block the 'bad ones' because of their negative actions on the body, and increase the levels of the 'good ones' because of their opposite and positive effect. The action of the 'bad ones' will increase uterine contractions and pain, and increase inflammation.
The role of the 'good ones' have a soothing effect and do the opposite to the bad ones. When you change the oils in your diet you can promote the good prostaglandins.
Omega 3 oils will reduce pain & inflammation
The good oils are found in the omega-3 fatty oil group, and lead to good prostaglandin production. Some of the best sources of omega-3 oils are found in marine and plant oils and include:
You can also supplement with omega 3 oils - aim to get the best quality possible.
- oily fish
- walnut oil
- pumpkin seeds
- chia seeds
- dark green leafy veg
At the same time it is important to reduce intake of the fatty acids that stimulate negative prostaglandins which are found in saturated fats, animal fats and butter.
It will help your symptoms if you increase your intake of fiber, as fiber will help to decrease the circulating estrogen in your system.
The easiest sources of fiber to digest are found in fruit and vegetables as the structure and chemical make-up provide a more soothing effect while also aiding digestion. Also, extra fiber in the form of grains, brown rice and pulses etc., are helpful especially for their nutritional value, but keep your fiber intake balanced between the two.
These can include:
- whole grains ( excluding wheat - see below)
- beans, peas, pulses
- brown rice
- vegetables and fruits
The following foods are recommended to modulate estrogen levels by incorporating one or two servings a day:
- mustard greens
- leafy green vegetables
- red grapes
Foods to avoid
This is a list of the food groups suggested to avoid to help reduce symptoms of endometriosis. You may not have problems with all these foods groups, but it seems most women have success by avoiding most of these foods.
- wheat - this includes breads, cakes and pasta products, all based on wheat - contains phytic acid which can aggravate symptoms of endometriosis. Also contains gluten and women with endometriosis seem to be sensitive to gluten as it can cause inflammation
- gluten - Many with endometriosis seem to have a negative reaction to gluten. A 2012 study(1) looking at endometriosis and the
gluten link found that of 207 participants, 156 reported significant decrease
in pain and bloating. Many with endometriosis have a predisposition for additional immune-system disorders which can include hypothyroidism, and gluten can set of a thyroid auto-immune reaction.
- red meats - promotes negative prostaglandins which cause inflammation and can also contain growth hormones. A 2018 study published in the American Journal of
Obstetrics & Gynaecology found that a higher intake of red meat increases
the risk of endometriosis by 56%. If eating white meat like chicken and turkey it is advised to only eat cage free/free range organic which has not been pumped full of hormones
- refined and concentrated carbohydrates - white bread, flour, cakes, pasta etc. made from refined flours. Most of the nutritional value has been removed and can have a negative effect on blood sugar levels
- refined sugars and honey - causes inflammatory reaction, produces a more acidic environment in the body which can increase the inflammation of endometriosis. (honey is fine if you can get hold of certified organic honey)
- caffeine - found in tea, coffee, soft drinks -increases abdominal cramps and caffeine increases estrogen levels. Caffeine is a known phyto-estrogen. Coffee is also known to inhibit the absorption of iron.
- chocolate (cheap commercial chocolate - as it contains sugar which is inflammatory - organic dark chocolate is fine especially if it has high cacao content which has health benefits
- dairy produce - including milk, cheese, butter, cream - causes inflammatory reaction as they increase the inflammatory prostaglandins
- eggs - advised to leave out eggs unless you get organic as they may contain hormones.
- fried foods - can stimulate negative prostaglandins
- saturated fats and oils – Foods that are high in fatty acids stimulate the negative inflammatory prostaglandins. Fatty acids are found in saturated fats, butter, margarine, lard.
- soy products and soy protein products - (check link below to read an in-depth explanation why soy should be left out of your diet) Soy is high in omega 6 which causes inflammation - tamari can be used in small amounts
- convenience foods - they contain a host of additives, cheap ingredients and have very little nutritional value
- canned/tinned foods - use sparingly. Certain exceptions are fine like tinned tomatoes, coconut milk and those foods that are part of ingredients when cooking a nutritious meal
- additives and preservatives - increase chemical load on the system
- alcohol - consumes vitamin B which is stored in the liver. Good liver function is vital as the liver will help to eliminate excess estrogen from the body. Alcohol also increase estrogen levels
A note about meat production:
Modern meat rearing now involves administering hormones to animals in the form of ear implants. One of these hormones, zeranol, is a form of estrogen made from mould called fusarium. Antibiotics have also been used as a growth promoter for forty years and we now get a small but insidious dose of antibiotics in nearly every meat and dairy product we eat.
In addition, a large percentage of women are noticeably zinc-deficient and some animals ingest copper-containing formulae which makes this balance even worse because copper is antagonistic to zinc. Copper also keeps estrogen levels high. Interestingly, copper is used in birth control pills as copper helps control the ovulation cycle.
You are strongly advised to go organic and only eat white meat or oily fish to obtain your protein.
Red meat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, gluten, wheat and soy are all reported by those with endometriosis as causing endo flares as well as making endo belly worse.
Additionally stress, anger and anxiety can also trigger symptoms.
Foods containing natural plant sterols (phyto-estrogens) can actually be helpful if consumed in careful balance. They are thought to block the estrogen receptors, so in turn excess estrogen in the body cannot ‘lock-in’ to these receptors. These include:
- peas, beans and pulses
- red and purple berries
- brassica's: cabbage, cauliflower etc
- nuts and seeds
- celery, carrots
Vitamins and mineral supplements
Although the best source of vitamins and minerals is through a well balanced diet, many of our foods today are depleted in these vital trace elements. Today, most of us need to supplement our diet with some of the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function optimally.
The following is a list of dietary supplements that can help women with Endometriosis:
- Magnesium - is a mineral and is believed to ease cramping with menstruation. It also assist with maintaining water levels in the gut and can help with the problem of constipation
- Zinc - is essential for enzyme activity, helping cells to reproduce which will help with healing. Zinc is also reported to boost the immune system and helping to create an emotional sense of well-being
- Calcium - levels of calcium in menstruating women decrease 10 to 14 days before the onset of menstruation. Deficiency may lead to muscle cramps, headache or pelvic pain.
- Iron - women with Endometriosis tend to have very heavy periods which can lead to an iron deficiency. This can lead to anaemia which is characterised by extreme fatigue and weakness.
- B vitamins - these are important for the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the body. B vitamins are reported to improve the emotional symptoms of Endometriosis, and have proved helpful in dealing with PMT. The most important benefit of B6 is the ability to speed clearance of estrogen from the body
- Vitamin C - is well known for helping to boost the immune system and help provide resistance to disease. It is also used in the body to build and maintain collagen within the body.
- Vitamin A - is another immune system booster
- Vitamin E - plays an important role by increasing oxygen carrying capacities and also strengthens the immune system
- Selenium - when taken together with vitamin E has been reported to decrease inflammation associated with Endometriosis, as well as immune system booster.
To sum up
- increase omega-3 fatty acids
- avoid red meat, dairy products, wheat and sugar
- increase fibre
- modulate estrogen
- avoid caffeine and alcohol
- avoid refined foods, e-numbers, additives
- minimise or avoid soy products as they contain high levels of phyto-estrogens, and soy contains a particular toxin which seems to be particularly detrimental for women with endometriosis
- peel fruit and vegetables to remove toxic chemicals
- eat organic produce wherever possible
- drink lots of filtered water
A list of articles describing in more detail why certain foods need to be left out of your diet can be found in this mini directory HERE
A helpful resource!
Recipes for the Endometriosis Diet
As you can see by the advice above, there are many foods you are advised to leave out of your diet completely, especially if you are to reap the benefits.
These main foods are:
All red meats, wheat and wheat products, sugar, dairy products, caffeine, additives and all refined and convenience foods.
The prospect of adjusting your diet so radically may seem somewhat daunting. You may be wondering and concerned about:
- what on earth are you going to eat
- how do you have variety in your diet
- how do you find recipes which are still enjoyable and tasty, but still suitable for a diet for Endometriosis
- how do you plan meals so that you do not become utterly bored with your diet
There are many great recipes you can use, and the hard work has been done for you......
A book of recipes specifically for a diet to help Endometriosis
The information in this book is the bottom line, based on ingredients and recipes that are best suited to a diet for endometriosis. It includes recipes that do not require lots of complex cooking techniques but are full of nutritional value.
Read feedback what other women have said about their diet experiences - read the feedback comments here
~ Anti-inflammatory, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, wheat free options ~
The advice in the book also includes:
- more in-depth recommendations of what to leave out of your diet and why
- tips about estrogen and your diet, and how to keep it in balance
- advice on ways to protect and balance your hormones through diet
- advice about diet and nutrition for fertility
- recipes mostly gluten free/lactose free as well as wheat free to help deal with issues of coeliac, candida, along with endometriosis
- details of substitute ingredients as alternatives to milk, butter, egg substitutes for baking, and sugar substitutes
- recipes of how to make alternative nut yogurts and nut milks - helpful if you are lactose intolerant
- specific information about alternative flours for baking, so you can still bake without using wheat flour - most recipes are gluten free
- shopping list - to help get you started
- tips how to gradually introduce diet changes
- snippets of nutritional advice woven among the recipes as you work your way through the book.
The recipes in the book include:
- cold drinks - with lots of nutrition
- hot drinks - to fill the gap from coffee
- healing drinks - and filling smoothies
- soups - so easy to prepare
- vegetable dishes - some can be used as main dishes
- main dishes - for various seasons
- spicy dishes - spices are very healing
- pasta dishes - wheat free
- sweets and puddings - yes, you read that right!
- baking and breads - wheat/gluten free
- pie crusts and crumble mixes - also wheat/gluten free
- sauces, dressings and dips - to help expand your meal ideas
- spreads and dips - for sandwiches/toast or parties
- breakfast Ideas - and tips to add extra nutrients
- bulk cooking recipes - using larger quantities suitable for catering
- extra dessert treats - chocolate cheesecake, chocolate mousse, chocolate brownies
- special recipes - for pizza bases, veggie burgers and
crumble toppings – so you don’t have to feel as though you are on a ‘diet’
- Over 250 recipes
You can find a selection of the recipes to get you started HERE
All customised for a diet to help reduce your symptoms
It is anticipate that the recipes in the book will give you ideas and guidelines of how to adapt your own favourite recipes, without jeopardising your diet regime for Endometriosis.
To place your order
Make a start to reduce the painful and debilitating symptoms of endometriosis - loads of women as well as medical professionals are now realising just how much our foods can change or affect our bodies.
About the Author
My name is Carolyn Levett, the Founder of endo-resolved
- I am an Integrative Health Coach having studied nutrition, naturopathy, aromatherapy as well as being a published
author. I used to suffer from severe
endometriosis and was able to regained my health and heal from the disease with
the support of nutrition and natural therapies.
My motivation is to help other women with endometriosis to heal their bodies so they may overcome this awful disease without having to rely on toxic drugs and surgeries which can cause further damage - with healing
Note: Anyone with an endometriosis website or blog wishing to use the information on this website on their own blog, please refer to endo-resolved as your resource and link to the site. Thank you
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15254009 - red meat and endometriosis link
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3626048/ - dairy consumption and endometriosis
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23334113 - endometriosis and gluten link
https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/25/6/1528/2915756 - dietary fat and endometriosis
Endometriosis Foundation - diet information
Reproductive Biomedicine - Diet and endometriosis risk
Pubmed - Risk of endometriosis and diet - population study
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