Following an anti-inflammatory diet has many health benefits and can help reduce the symptoms of endometriosis. An anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce bloating, reduce endo-belly as well as reduce pain.
Some women feel overwhelmed when they read the details of the diet to help them with their symptoms and don’t know where to start, or feel that the diet is too restrictive.
When you look at the list of the foods to leave out of your diet it looks like you will not be left with much to eat, but there are plenty of tasty, nutritious foods you can still enjoy.
The basis of the diet to help reduce the symptoms is based on the following:
To give you a basic summary of the diet to help with the symptoms of endometriosis:
Wheat - this includes breads, cakes and
pasta products. Wheat contains phytic acid which can aggravate symptoms of
endometriosis, which is an issue that has been covered by Dian Shepperson Mills
in her book about nutrition for endometriosis. Wheat also contains gluten which
women with endometriosis seem to be sensitive to and feedback from other endo
sufferers who omitted wheat saw an improvement in their symptoms
Red meats - promotes the negative
prostaglandins which cause inflammation and may also contain growth hormones
which can include estrogen.
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
Refined sugars - causes inflammatory reaction, produces a more acidic environment in the body which can increase the inflammation of endometriosis
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 many health benefits
Dairy produce - including milk, cheese, butter,
cream - causes inflammatory reaction as they increase the inflammatory
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 – soy has
a negative effect on endometriosis as soy contains high levels of
phytoestrogens - tamari can be used in small amounts. Soy also contains high levels of omega 6 which can cause inflammation. Read more about soy and
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
So what can you eat to help reduce your symptoms of endometriosis?
You now know what is recommended to leave out of your diet to help manage the symptoms of endometriosis, but what is safe to eat? To give you some ideas of the foods that are safe and will not aggravate your symptoms, this list will give you some ideas..
It is not easy to provide a full list to suit everyone especially as everyone’s taste is different. However, the basic foods that are safe for an anti-inflammatory diet include:
White meat – chicken and turkey – try to get organic if you can afford it – obviously loads of dishes can be made with white meats like curries, casseroles, roast dinners etc
Oily fish – rich in omega 3 oils which can help to reduce inflammation and pain. Best options are salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, trout.
Gluten free foods - instead of wheat based -many supermarkets are now stocking lots of gluten free breads, savoury biscuits, gluten free breakfast cereals
Lots of veg based meals – add in pulses to veg based meals and you will get plenty of nutrition and protein. There are lots of recipes for veggie options for dishes like spaghetti bolognaise, casseroles, veggie burgers.
Fruit – great for making smoothies and adding in extra nutrients with protein powders and other super-foods
For carbs - your options include rice, rice noodles, gluten free oats, quinoa as well as beans and pulses
Plenty of pasta dish options – using gluten free pasta or use spiralized veggies like zucchini instead of pasta
Baked items - like breads, cakes, pies using gluten free flour
Sweets and puddings - there are plenty of recipes using sugar alternatives
Nuts, dried fruits and seeds – good for snacking
Nut milks – like almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk instead of dairy
Herb teas, juices
To get some tips to help you gradually introduce diet changes there is plenty of advice HERE
And to give you a kick start guide to the diet there is a recipe book from endo-resolved HERE which has over 250 recipes and includes advice about nutrition, tips to balance hormones and estrogen - all gluten, dairy, soy, meat and wheat free.