Endometriosis - Diet and Nutrition
Diet changes can help reduce the symptoms of endometriosis
Changing your diet to deal with Endometriosis is an excellent foundation to assist you in reducing your symptoms, and will help regenerate your health.
Adjusting what you eat can bring about many positive physical and metabolic changes. Many of you may be aware that various illnesses and diseases have responded very positively to changes in diet, and Endometriosis is no exception.
Changing your diet can help with the following:
- Reduce symptoms of pain
- Relieve cramps
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce bloating
- Reduce oestrogen levels
- Balance hormones
- Reduce weight – oestrogen is stored in fat and endometriosis is fed by oestrogen
- Reduce toxins – found in e-numbers, additives, preservatives, pesticides, chemicals, anti-biotics used in animal husbandry,
AND an improved diet will also :
- Increase energy levels
- Boost immune system
- Improve overall health
Did you know that 80% of our immunity occurs in the intestinal tract?
To have a properly functioning immune system, you need to have a healthy digestive system. Because a large proportion of your body’s immune system stems from the digestive tract.
A healthy gut and a healthy digestive system will aid in the production of certain good bacteria, enzymes and vitamins that help us to fight disease. Having a strong and vibrant immune system will help you to fight the underlying causes of endometriosis.
Controlled Diet for Endometriosis
Changing the foods you eat and following a diet for endometriosis has proved to be one of the best ways to reduce the symptoms of the disease by using a natural and healthy treatment option.
The body will respond very quickly to what we eat, and this will reflect in our overall health. The symptoms of endometriosis respond really well to diet changes based on chemical reactions in your body.
Your body is sensitive to what you put in it, for example if you have any food allergies, or you have too much sugar or caffeine. Sometimes these sensitivities will quickly show up, but at other times they are not noticed and will creep up on us in the form of dietary deficiencies.
This will then show up as symptoms of ill health, but the body will give us clues and we start to develop food cravings.
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. Some of these chemical reactions are very subtle and complex based on enzymes in food and the complex reaction to the chemicals already present in the body.
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 oestrogen in the body and thus reduce the opportunity of the disease growing further.
So where do we start!
Pain and hormones in relation to diet …………
Endometriosis is fed by oestrogen synthesis in the body. This can take the form of:
- your own natural oestrogen which is produced in the body
- the oestrogen that is taken up from food as phyto-oestrogen
- from chemical based oestrogens that are found in toiletries and cosmetics in the form of xeno-oestrogens
The correct diet can help to balance these different forms of oestrogen.
You also need to reduce your use of xeno-oestrogens (highly chemical based cosmetics and toiletries, and use natural alternatives) in order to reduce xeno-oestrogens from your system.
As well as dealing with oestrogen 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 of them 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. The good oils are 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:
- oily fish
- walnut oil
- pumpkin 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, butter
It will help your symptoms if you increase your intake of fibre, as the fibre will help to decrease the circulating oestrogen in your system. Be careful not to eat too much fibre as this can lead to constipation (contrary to what you have been told).
The possible problem with constipation relates to non-soluble fibre like bran and course grains, as this will absorb any available water in the gut and actually slow down your digestive system. Read more on the topic of constipation HERE.
The easiest sources of fibre to digest are found in fruit and vegetables as the structure and chemical make-up provide a more soothing effect while also aiding digestion. However, extra fibre in the form of grains, brown rice and pulses etc., are helpful especially for their nutritional value, but keep your fibre intake balanced between the two.
These can include:
- whole grains ( excluding wheat - see link below)
- beans, peas, pulses
- brown rice
- vegetables and fruits
The following foods are recommended to modulate oestrogen levels by incorporating one or two servings a day:
- mustard greens
- dark green veg
Foods to avoid
- wheat - this includes breads, cakes and pasta products, all based on wheat - contains phytic acid which can aggravate symptoms of endometriosis. Also contains gluten which women with endometriosis seem to be sensitive to.
- red meats - promotes negative prostaglandins which cause inflammation and can also contain growth hormones.
- refined and concentrated carbohydrates - white bread, flour, cakes, pasta etc. made from refined flours. Most of the nutritional value has been removed
- 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 oestrogen levels. Caffeine is a known phyto-oestrogen.
- chocolate - as it contains sugar which is inflammatory
- 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 can contain the chemical residue of dioxin. Can also cause digestive problems for some like IBS, and may increase constipation problems (they are used as a binder in cooking!)
- 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)- tamari can be used in small amounts
- convenience foods - they contain a host of additives, cheap ingredients and have very little nutritional value
- 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 oestrogen from the body
Foods beneficial for the immune system
- beans, peas, lentils
- garlic - raw or lightly cooked
- carrots - contain beta-carotene
- live yoghurt (good for healthy intestinal flora)
- seeds and sprouted seeds - high in nutrients
- ginger - excellent anti-inflammatory
- green tea - excellent to boost immunity and has been found to expel dioxin from the body
Foods containing natural plant sterols (phyto-oestrogens) can actually be helpful if consumed in careful balance. They are thought to block the oestrogen receptors, so in turn excess oestrogen 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 supplements that will 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
- 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 meat, dairy products, wheat and sugar
- increase fibre
- modulate oestrogen
- avoid caffeine and alcohol
- avoid refined foods, e-numbers, additives
- minimize or avoid soy products as they contain high levels of phyto-oestrogens, 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 great little resource!
Recipes for the Endometriosis Diet
If you are to change your diet to help deal with Endometriosis then there will be many changes in the foods you can and cannot eat.
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, all 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 wonderful recipes you can use, and the hard work has been done for you......
A book of recipes specifically for a diet for Endometriosis from Endo Resolved
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.
To read what other women have said about their diet experiences, you can read the feedback comments here
The advice in the book also includes:
- more in-depth recommendations of what to leave out of your diet and why
- tips about oestrogen 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
- 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 free
- pie crusts and crumble mixes - also wheat free
- sauces, dressings and dips - to help expand your meal ideas
- spreads and dips - for sandwiches/toast or parties
- a few party recipes - using larger quantities suitable for catering
All customised for a diet for Endometriosis
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.