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Do you experience:
- Moderate to severe pelvic pain?
- Cramping that begins before your period and is associated with lower back pain and abdominal pain?
- Pain during intercourse, bowel movements or urination?
- Infertility or delayed conception?
These are all symptoms of endometriosis. If you haven’t seen a health care provider yet, it might be worth making an appointment and discussing these symptoms.
What is endometriosis?
It is a hormone-dependent inflammatory condition that targets the endometrial tissue outside the uterus. It’s associated with pelvic lesions, pain and infertility. Endometriosis can have a profound impact on the physical, mental and social wellbeing of a woman.
Endometriosis affects an estimated of 176 million women of reproductive age worldwide. Symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for IBS, due to the bouts of constipation and diarrhoea caused by heavy periods. Some women also experience fatigue, nausea, and bloating during their menstrual period.
Goals of naturopathic and nutrition treatment include:
- Reduce inflammation
- Enhance detoxification of hormones such as estrogen
- Decrease symptoms
What Should I Eat?
Vitamin C helps increase cellular immunity while vitamin E helps to correct abnormal progesterone/estradiol ratios. Vitamin D boosts immunity and increases T-helper cells, a type of cell that can regulate immune responses. Polyunsaturated fats such as flaxseeds, walnuts, some fish and sunflower seeds, decrease prostaglandin levels in the body and reduce inflammation. All of these may reduce the symptom associated with endometriosis.
A study by Goldin et al. in 1982 showed women with a higher intake of red meat had an 80%increased risk of endometriosis, whereas those who had a higher intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and a balanced diet lowered their risk by 40%.
Superfoods for Endometriosis
- High fiber foods such as lentils and legumes, sweet potato, brown rice, fruits with edible skins
- Consuming more organic foods
- Incorporating more beets, artichokes, lemons, dandelion greens, watercress, burdock root. These are liver cleansing foods and help remove excess estrogen from the body.
- Green vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. These foods are very helpful for the support of normal functioning estrogen
- Onions, garlic, leek and turmeric to reduce inflammation
- Flaxseeds, as they counter the effects of excess estrogen
- Eat more omega 3 fatty acids (eg: wild fish and flax) while keeping your intake of omega 6 (red meat) balanced to around 2-3 times a week.
Therapeutic Nutrients for Endometriosis
Some other vitamins you may wish to consider in your diet if you are suffering endometriosis and fertility issues are:
- Essential Fatty Acids gamma-linenic acid in borage, black chia seeds and evening primrose oil and alpha-linenic acid in flax seed, pumpkin, walnuts helps to decrease tissue inflammation
- Vitamin B complex helps the liver inactivate excess estrogen
- Selenium supports detoxification and stimulates white blood cell function
- Lipotropics such as B12, methionine, choline, inositol and betaine (brazil nuts, soybean, white beans, lean cuts of meat, poultry, tuna, shellfish, plain yogurt) enhance liver function, promote bile flow and facilitates excretion of estrogen
Dian Shepperson Mills & Michael Vernon, 1999. The key to healing and fertility through nutrition
Goldin, B. R, Adlercrutz, H., et al. (1982). ‘Oestrogen-excretion patterns and plasma-levels in vegetarian and omnivorous woman.’ New England Journal of Medicine 307, 1542-1547
Parazzini, F., Vigano, P., Candiani, M., Fedele, L. (2013) Diet and endometriosis risk: A literature review. ‘Reproductive BioMedicine’ 26,4, 323-336.