Endometriosis

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

What should you eat if you have endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue resembling the uterus lining grows outside of the uterus, causing painful symptoms. Following a specific diet may help to reduce symptoms, though more research is needed.

Avoiding foods and drinks that cause inflammation and increase oestrogen production may help to tackle the painful symptoms of endometriosis.

In this article, we look at the links between diet and endometriosis, which foods to eat, and which to avoid.

The link between endometriosis and diet

Fruit at a market may help with an endometriosis diet

Vegetables and fruits may help to improve endometriosis symptoms.

Little research has investigated the relationship between diet and endometriosis symptoms. However, some people do find that eating certain foods tends to trigger or relieve their symptoms.

2013 study suggested that women who ate more vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids were more protected from symptoms of endometriosis, while those who consumed red meat, trans fats, and coffee may have experienced the opposite effect. However, these results are not consistent across studies, so more research is needed.

2015 literature review published in Brazil, suggested that eating a healthful diet can prevent endometriosis from developing, and perhaps, even worsening. Foods in this diet included:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • omega-3 fatty acids

A person cannot prevent endometriosis, but according to the US Office on Women’s Health, they can reduce their risk of developing it by avoiding foods and chemicals that increase their estrogen levels. These substances include caffeine and alcohol.

It is essential, however, to recognize that dietary and lifestyle changes will not cure endometriosis but may help to improve its symptoms.

To find out whether food is having an effect on their symptoms, a person with endometriosis could keep a food journal. It is essential that they record everything they eat throughout the day, as well as any symptoms they experience.

A person may need to keep the diary for some time, as a clear pattern may not emerge right away.

Diet for endometriosis

olive oil may be used in an endometriosis diet

Healthful fats, such as olive oil, may benefit people with endometriosis.

A person with endometriosis might consider reducing foods that either cause inflammation or raise estrogen levels, both of which may contribute to the disorder or its symptoms. However, more research is needed to establish the link between endometriosis and diet.

A person with endometriosis may benefit from eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Plant-based proteins, lean meats, and healthful fats may also help.

Healthful fats are available in many foods, including:

  • avocado
  • olive oil
  • olives
  • nuts
  • salmon
  • other fatty fish

A person with endometriosis should also reduce their caffeine and alcohol intake, as these can increase oestrogen levels.

If a person does not eat fish, it is possible to introduce  omega-3 fatty acids into the diet using supplements.

A person can also increase their fibre intake. Fibre is an essential part of a healthful diet and may help to lower estrogen levels. In addition to providing lots of vitamins and minerals, eating fresh sources of fiber can also provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can reduce inflammation.

There are also some special diets that may help people with endometriosis. These include:

Gluten-free diet?

Going gluten-free has become a common diet and lifestyle trend over the last several years. It remains unclear whether this diet is effective for people without celiac disease, which makes a person sensitive to proteins found in wheat.

However, a 2012 study suggests that 75 percent of the 156 women who took part in the study reported a decrease in painful symptoms after following a gluten-free diet for 12 months.

FODMAP diet

With the FODMAP diet, a person eliminates certain carbohydrates from their diet to reduce their intake of potentially irritating foods. The aim is to allow the gastrointestinal system to heal.

After a person eliminates these foods, they can slowly re-introduce specific foods to see how the body tolerates them. This kind of diet can be difficult for some people, because it involves eliminating a high number of food types from their diet, including:

  • dairy
  • gluten
  • processed foods
  • added sugars

It is a good idea to track symptoms in a food log to see if they get better after removing certain foods from the diet, or get worse after reintroducing something.

If a woman decides to follow a  FODMAP diet elimination program then she should really see a dietitian so that esential nutrients are not left out of the diet and that it is not undertaken longer than necessary.

 

Other home remedies for endometriosis

woman sprinting

Regular exercise is recommended for endometriosis.

In addition to dietary changes and traditional medical treatments for endometriosis, some people try other home remedies to help manage the condition or its symptoms. Therapies can include:

  • regular exercise
  • acupuncture
  • vitamin B1
  • magnesium supplements
  • Chinese herbs, such as cinnamon twig or licorice root-but seek a qualified herbalist for these

As always, consult with the doctor before starting to take any herbal or over-the-counter supplements.

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