The distressing symptom that affects many with endometriosis - endo belly, bloating, abdominal distress - whatever you want to call it - it hurts and causes lots of suffering and misery.
What is endo belly? If you try to look for information about this distressing symptom there seem to be few clear-cut answers and many doctors can only speculate what may be the real cause of endo belly.
There may be various causes and it is a common symptom for many with endometriosis. It seems to come on in attacks which means there could be triggers that set off the bloating and pain with endo belly.
Studies show that as well as constipation and diarrhoea, bloating is the most common GI symptom of the disease. About 83% of women with endometriosis experience bloating, or endo belly.
There are various possible reasons why women with endometriosis experience bloating. For instance, the endometrial tissue could be near your bowel and this will cause symptoms and distress in that area. If the endometriosis gets into your bowel, it can cause bloating, constipation, nausea and lots of pain.
I remember when I had endometriosis the severe pain and swelling I would feel in my abdomen was awful. It felt like a great pressure was trying to push from inside.
It took me many months to work out what was triggering these awful attacks. I eventually learned that most of my triggers was to be blamed on certain foods and coffee, fizzy drinks, dairy foods and other inflammatory foods were the culprits. Once I reduced or totally got these out of my diet my endo belly improved a lot.
According to Amanda Malachesky, a Functional Nutrition Practitioner, owner of Confluence Nutrition, and long-time endometriosis patient, there are two primary reasons for bloating with endometriosis. “[Endometriosis] causes scar tissue that can bind up the abdominal organs and slow down the intestines,” she explains. “The second [reason] is that the endometriosis lesions can flare at different parts of the menstrual cycle, which can cause an immune response, which includes swelling.”
Food and inflammation
It is well known that endometriosis causes inflammation which can include having an inflamed gut. Your gut may have also suffered from long-term drug intake with pain-killers and hormone drugs which can upset your delicate gut flora.
Also, if you eat trigger foods that cause inflammation then you will soon know about it – with a nasty attack of endo belly. Try to learn what your trigger foods are and follow an inti-inflammatory diet.
Foods that cause bloating - reported by those with endometriosis
These are the foods that commonly cause bloating as reported by women who have endometriosis. Most of these foods are advised to be omitted from your diet with endometriosis as they either cause inflammation, irritate the gut or have no nutritional value
Supplements and help for endo belly
There are various self-help measures you can use to help with the inflammation and distress of endo belly. Here are just a few …..
Probiotics - Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are found in certain foods and supplements. Healthy gut bacteria can become upset by taking anti-biotics or taking drug treatments or pain-killers on a regular basis. Therefore, it can be good for your gut and your general health to supplement with probiotics to re-balance your system.
Probiotics maintain good gut health; help reduce inflammation and even have a benefit on mental health – read more about probiotics HERE
Diet – eat an anti-inflammatory diet and reduce your gluten and dairy intake as they cause inflammation. Many with endo say they have reduced a lot of pain and inflammation by using a diet that helps to reduce inflammation. Find out about the anti-inflammatory diet HERE
Digestive enzymes – these can help to relieve symptoms of pain and inflammation with endo and certain enzymes can also help reduce scar tissue and fibrin build up.
Digestive enzymes include:
Bromelain helps you to digest protein and reduces inflammation – comes in supplement form on its own or can be found in a digestive complex
Amlyase helps to break down carbohydrates.
Lipase helps breaks down fat.
Serrapeptase aids in the removal of scar tissue and cysts from your body.
You an read more about these really helpful enzymes HERE
Water - Water has many benefits on your body and is essential in keeping all of your organs functioning properly
Peppermint tea – peppermint tea is great. It helps with gut distress and bloating. Many with endo say that peppermint tea also helps relieve cramps with their periods. Peppermint helps with inflammation and aids with digestion
Fibre – Balance your intake of fibre between soluble and non-soluble fibre foods - the soluble fibre will help to keep you gut hydrated with fluid, while non-soluble fibre will absorb fluid and slow the transit of waste through your system
Pycnogenol - Reports of improvement of endo belly symptoms have been noted by some by taking pine bark extract (pycnogenol) taken twice a day
Castor oil packs – Placed on the abdomen castor oil packs can really help with inflammation, pain, increase the activity of the lymph system (one of your detox channels), and placed over your liver can enhance your liver function. These are also great to do in the evening before bed as they can help to relax your central nervous system. To find out how to do a castor pack you will find the details HERE
These are just a few ideas to help with the pain and distress of endo belly. You may need to experiment to see what works best for you. Don’t forget to take notice of the foods that are your triggers and set off a flare.
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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 thoughts, Carolyn.