It is Friday evening. Dora and her three friends meet at their favourite Italian restaurant. The charming owner comes to take their orders. Dora asks for „Pasta al salmone“. Her friend Vera is surprised: „ I thought you hated fish?“ „ It’s true, but I have read this article. Do you remember, that every month I feel really bad and have lots of pain? Well, I have been diagnosed with endometriosis recently and allegedly, fish is really good.“
Dora is quite right: More and more scientific studies of recent years prove that nutrition can have a major impact on onset and development of endometriosis. Wellbeing, too, can obviously benefit from a diet taking into account some endometriosis-related aspects.
More specifically, nutrition can be employed to soften endometriosis-related inflammation, to counteract elevated levels of oxidative stress, to lower increased levels of estrogen and to improve pain.
Fatty acids make a difference
It is the high content of so-called omega-3 fatty acids that makes fish so particularly precious for endometriosis patients like Dora. These are essential fatty acids, which means that our body cannot produce them itself, but needs to get them via the diet. Their special role: They are precursors for the body’s own synthesis of certain signal molecules called prostaglandins. They are involved in regulation of inflammation processes in the body. „Good“ prostaglandins inhibit inflammation, whereas the „baddies“ among prostaglandins encourage inflammation. The problem: In endometriosis patients, the different types of prostaglandins are out of balance. This can increase pain and negatively affects fertility.
What we take up via our diet determines which kind of building blocks are available for our body to produce either „good“ or „bad“ prostaglandins. More specifically, the kind of fatty acids we consume are decisive.
Foods containing lots of trans-fatty acids such as processed food and fast food and foods rich in saturated fatty acids (meat, milk, dairy products) facilitate production of „bad“ prostaglandins in the body. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids on the other hand, boost synthesis of „good“ prostaglandins.
Data of the American Nurses‘ Health Study shows that women who consume a lot of omega-3- fatty acids statistically have a lower risk of having endometriosis (Chavarro et al, 2016).
Even more interesting fact:
In animals as well as humans, supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids can ameliorate endometriosis (Harel at al, 1996; Tomio et al, 2013; Akyol et al, 2016).
Therefore, endometriosis patients are recommended to avoid processed foods and fast food, consume meat and dairy in moderation only and increase their uptake of omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty cold water fish such as salmon should be on your meal plan at least twice a week (well done, Dora!). For cooking, choose high-quality plant oils.
To be on the safe side, fish-oil supplements supply your body with omega-3-fatty acids in excellent quality and bio-availibility.
Jorge E. Chavarro, MD, ScD, Janet W. Rich-Edwards, ScD, Audrey J. Gaskins, ScD, Leslie V. Farland, ScD, Kathryn L. Terry, ScD, Cuilin Zhang, MD, PhD, and Stacey A. Missmer, ScD Contributions of the Nurses’ Health Studies to Reproductive Health Research September 2016, Vol 106, No. 9 AJPH
Akyol A1, Şimşek M2, İlhan R2, Can B2, Baspinar M2, Akyol H3, Gül HF4, Gürsu F4, Kavak B2, Akın M5. Efficacies of vitamin D and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on experimental endometriosis. Taiwan J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Dec;55(6):835-839. doi: 10.1016/j.tjog.2015.06.018.
Ballweg ML, The Endometriosis Association. Endometriosis. Mc Graw-Hill, 2003
Harel Z, Biro FM, Kottenhahn RK, et al. Supplementation with Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the management od dysmenorrhea in adolescents. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 1996; 174(4): 1335-1337
Kensuke Tomio1, Kei Kawana1*., Ayumi Taguchi1, Yosuke Isobe2, Ryo Iwamoto2, Aki Yamashita1, Satoko Kojima1, Mayuyo Mori1, Takeshi Nagamatsu1, Takahide Arimoto1, Katsutoshi Oda1, Yutaka Osuga1, Yuji Taketani1, Jing X Kang3 , Hiroyuki Arai2 , Makoto Arita2 *., Shiro Kozuma1, Tomoyuki Fujii1. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Suppress the Cystic Lesion Formation of Peritoneal Endometriosis in Transgenic Mouse Models. PLOS ONE | www.plosone.org 1 September 2013 | Volume 8 | Issue 9 | e73085