Did you know that 5-15% of women at childbearing age worldwide are affected by endometriosis?
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where uterine tissue, or endometrium is ‘misplaced’ and grows in patches on sites outside of the uterus causing pain, heavy periods and also infertility.
There is no definitive cure for endometriosis, but you can help your body with lifestyle changes to slow and control the affects of the condition.
Endometriosis is an estrogen dependent condition. Changing your diet to increase fibre can help excrete excess estrogen and reduce symptoms.
It has been currently studied as to whether endometriosis is in fact an autoimmune disease. It is immune dysfunction that causes your body not to clear up these misplaced endometrial lesions.
Causes of endometriosis
- Gut Dysbiosis which causes bacterial toxins in the pelvic region
- Immune dysfunction
Signs and symptoms of endometriosis
- Acute pain before your period
- Abdominal cramping
- Back pain radiating down the leg
- Pain with urination and bowel movement
If endometriosis is chronic, it may require medical interventions such as surgery. Diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can help enormously.
Foods to avoid
- Reduce vegetable protein, monosaturated fasts in, nut butters (eg almond and peanut butter or other vegetable fats which increase the occurrence of endometriod cysts), Parazzini et al,
- Decrease sugar and caffeine, dairy, red meat
- Decrease omega 6 fatty acids (red meat, chicken, salad dressing, potato and corn chips, nuts and seeds, pizza, pasta and potato)
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
Foods to include
- High fibre foods such as raspberries, pear, apple, banana, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrot, cauliflower.
- Organic vegetarian diet
- Include carrots, beets, artichokes, lemons, dandelions greens, watercress, burdock root, and the cabbage family to emphasise phase 2 liver support which helps clear excess blood estrogens
- Onions, garlic, leek to aid in clearing excess oestrogen
- Turmeric for anti-inflammatory purposes
- Milk thistle seeds soaked and ground
- Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and walnuts which help reduce tissue inflammation
- Food high in vitamin C such as cherries, strawberries, yellow peppers, thyme, parsley, kale, broccoli and kiwi fruit, to increase cellular immunity, Vitamin E to help balance progesterone and estradiol
- Increase omega 3 fatty acids such as wild fish, and flax
- Vitamin A present in liver, kidney, fatty fish and dairy, green leafy and yellow coloured vegetables, this is thought to diminish the oxidative stress markers associated with endometriomas.
For more information on food to eat when you have endometriosis, please see our other blog Do You Want to Know What to Eat for Endometriosis?
A review by Parazzini et al, 2013, found a positive effect on women with endometriosis with those who consumed a diet of vegetables and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Where as those who consumed a diet of red meat, coffee and trans fats had a negative impact on the disease, increasing inflammation and pain.
A review by Bellelis et al, 2011 found that fatty acids in the diet such as vegetable oils, nuts and animal fats are precursors for prostaglandins, which increase inflammatory reactions and cause painful symptoms.
A review by Parazzini et al, 2013 found that an diet rich in antioxidants (A, C and E), showed a positive effect on endometriomas and a pregnancy rate of 19% of those women on the high antioxidant diet compared to 12% in the placebo group.
If you feel you need to talk more about how to best address your diet and hormones for fertility please make an appointment to see one of our practitioners today.
Bellelis, P., Podgaec, S., Abaao, M, C, 2011. Environmental factors and endometriosis. ‘Elsevier’ Rev Assoc Med Brazil: 57(4): 448-452
Parazzini, F., Vigano, P., Candiani, M., Fedele, L., 2013. Diet and endometriosis risk: A literature review. ‘Reproductive BioMedicine Online’ : 26(4): 323-336