Making sure you follow a nutritious diet is important not just for alleviating endometriosis-caused pain, but in improving your overall health and potentially preventing further cases.
These Foods Will Benefit Endometriosis Patients
British nutritionist Dian Shepperson Mills, author of "Endometriosis: A Key to Healing and Fertility through Nutrition," has been giving talks that highlight the connection between endometriosis and your diet.
For endometriosis patients, she suggests consuming a diet composed of fresh, organically grown and pesticide-free foods. This includes items such as:1
• High-quality protein from meat and game, fish and eggs
• Raw nuts, seeds and legumes
• Raw leafy greens and/or red or orange vegetables
• Berries and other fruits that are rich in antioxidants
Shepperson Mills also recommends increasing your intake of these nutrients:2
• B vitamins: Higher amounts of B vitamins, especially in a healthy liver, can convert estradiol into estriol, the form wherein estrogen can be bound to fiber and eliminated from your body. B vitamins are present in cruciferous vegetables such as kale, watercress, cabbage, broccoli and sprouts.
Shepperson Mills explains, "The diet needs to have sufficient fiber and B vitamins from green vegetables to help the body deal with the constant breakdown of circulating estrogens."
• Iron-rich food: Women with endometriosis are advised to eat iron-rich food, as heavy bleeding can deplete the body's iron supply.
There are two types of iron that you can get from food: heme iron from high-quality grass-fed meat, eggs and fish, and non-heme iron from green, leafy vegetables, beetroot, dried apricots and chocolate.
Iron deficiency is becoming a widespread problem among strict vegetarians and vegans. Their diet only allows them to consume plant-based iron that is poorly absorbed by your body.
These people are also at risk for anemia, since heme iron assists in absorbing non-heme iron from plant sources. A main function of iron in your body is to combine with the hemoglobin molecule and carry oxygen to your tissues. Your cells quickly die if oxygen is not readily available.
• Omega-3 fatty acids:3 Results from a 12-year study following 70,709 American nurses, originally published in the journal Health Reproduction, have found that women who ate the highest amounts of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids were 22 percent less likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis.4
On the other hand, omega-3 supplementation was associated with lessened clotting in endometrial cells found in the uterus, improving the implantation rates of fertilized eggs.5 The best sources of omega-3 fats include wild Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies, as well as a high-quality krill oil supplement.
• Fiber: This is a must for endometriosis patients as it maintains the health of the intestinal tract and enhances the excretion of excess estrogens. Be sure you are consuming fiber from sources such as green beans, cauliflower, fruits, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, to name a few.
If you want to significantly boost your fiber intake, supplement with organic whole husk psyllium. Taking organic psyllium at least three times per day could increase your daily intake of dietary fiber by as much as 18 grams. A soluble fiber like psyllium aids in enhancing beneficial bacteria that help with digestion and food absorption and immune system function.
Just make sure to purchase 100 percent organic psyllium husk, as most sources may already be sprayed and contaminated with herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers that can be harmful for you when ingested.
According to Shepperson Mills, a diet like this "aims to reduce internal inflammation within the body, improve pain responses and support estrogen excretion from the body."6
Eliminate These Endometriosis-Triggering Foods
It's strongly advised not to eat processed foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients, as they trigger growth of bad prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances7 produced in the uterus that prompt uterine muscles to contract and help in shedding the lining that has built up during the menstrual cycle.8,9,10
If your body produces too many bad prostaglandins, you may experience intense pain or dysmenorrhea during your regular menstrual cycle, and even headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.11
Caffeinated drinks are another no-no, as they raise your body's estrogen levels and disrupt liver function by decreasing its capabilities to detoxify your system and get rid of excess estrogen. Caffeine also interferes with progesterone production, a hormone12 that can counteract the potential harmful effects of estrogen.13
Alcohol should also be avoided, since it negatively affects your liver, the organ responsible for eliminating excess estrogen from your body. Drinks that are loaded with refined sugar and sweeteners are bad too, because they lead to the formation of an acidic environment in your body, reduce the amounts of minerals in your system and trigger growth of bacteria and viruses.14,15
Skip citrus fruits such as grapefruits and oranges as well because they can irritate your stomach, increase estrogen production and disrupt your body's estrogen-eliminating processes.16,17