Being affected by endometriosis means quite a few aspects in your body are in turmoil. The good news: lots of studies and testimonials show that an adequate lifestyle and nutrition can contribute to reduce pain and simply feel better.
In summary, all recommendations aim to
– avoid pollutants
– decrease estrogen dominance
– alleviate inflammation
– lower oxidative stress
– relief pain
Know your intolerances
Undetected intolerances pose a frequent problem. Unfortunately, it is quite typical for endometriosis patients to suffer from one or another intolerance. This can intensify the immunological / inflammatory aspect of endometriosis.
“Intolerances can induce inflammatory processes,” experts warn.
Fructose malabsorption, sorbitol, lactose, histamine, and gluten intolerances are commonest.
A dietary record is an excellent means to find out more about potential intolerances. Simply list everything you have eaten and drunk for some weeks and note how you have felt – this way you can get a good impression which food stuffs you tolerate very well, not so well or even not at all. Next, any suspicion can be confirmed by a test at your general practitioner’s.
When reasons for stress can’t be avoided, try to implement little breaks in your everyday life. Treat yourself regularly to those small relaxing moments: Conscious breathing, smiling, gentle exercise and stretching help to balance body and soul.
Minimize exposure to pollutants
Heavy metals and hormone-like substances in our environment may contribute to endometriosis. Make sure to minimize exposure to these pollutants. Replace chemical products by natural alternatives for cleaning and body care. Reduce plastizicers by prefering glass bottles over plastic ones, reduce use of room fragrances and generally mind possible pollutants in all materials you choose for your home and garden.
Lowering estrogen dominance
Exercise and healthy weight
For endometriosis patients, one major aspect is to gently reduce estrogen dominance. Estrogen is not only produced in ovary, corpus luteum and adrenal cortex, but also in muscle, bone marrow and fat tissue. This is why overweight women tend to have higher estrogen levels than lean women. As a consequence of this, it is important to maintain a healthy weight. Implement exercise and sport in your daily routine and check your weight regularly.
Avoiding pollutants in food
In addition to minding individual intolerances, avoid sugar, sweets and white flour. Alcohol, coffee and black tea may worsen endometriosis symptoms and should be consumed in very moderate quantities only. Due to their high content in unhealthy fats, pollution with hormones and other contaminants, food from animal sources should only constitute a small proportion of your diet. When purchasing eggs and dairy products, prefer organic choices.
Prefer vegetarian food
A diet high in vegetarian components has been shown to be associated with lower estrogen levels. This is thought to be due to the higher fiber content.
An important aspect of an endometriosis-adjusted meal plan is an anti-inflammatory diet. This consists of fruit, vegetables, herbs and healthy fats. Many patients also tell us that they feel better when sticking to a low carb diet. Indeed researchers have linked elevated insulin-levels, which are a consequence of a diet rich in carbohydrates, to increased levels of inflammation. Endometriosis patients are therefore recommended to prefer whole grain products with a low glycemic index.
Lowering oxidative stress
Endometriosis is not only associated with inflammation, but in vicinity of endometriomas, there is also significantly increased oxidative stress. A diet rich in antioxidants can counteract this phenomenon and may also contribute to pain relief. A new study shows: Women who consume a lot of citrus fruits have a significantly lower risk being diagnosed with endometriosis (Harris et al, 2018). Citrus fruits are well known for their high content in antioxidants, such as vitamin C.
An anti-inflammatory diet and lowering of oxidative stress often can make a big difference when it comes to endometriosis-related pain. In addition to that, supplementing certain micronutrients can offer additional benefits: Magnesium helps to reduce muscular cramps, B-vitamins, selenium, zinc, iron and antioxidants have all been shown to provide a benefit for patients.
Jurkiewicz-Przondziono J, Lemm M, Kwiatkowska-Pamuła A, Ziółko E, Wójtowicz MK. Influence of diet on the risk of developing endometriosis. Ginekol Pol. 2017;88(2):96-102. doi: 10.5603/GP.a2017.0017
Harris HR, Eke AC, Chavarro JE, Missmer SA. Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of endometriosis. Hum Reprod. 2018 Feb 1. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dey014. [Epub ahead of print]
Mary Lou Ballweg & the Endometriosis Association: Endometriosis: The Complete Reference for Taking Charge of Your Health