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Endometriosis Diet: Foods To Eat And Foods To Avoid

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Endometriosis diet

An endometriosis diet involves making specific dietary choices to alleviate symptoms and manage the condition. This article is all about what foods to eat and the ones to avoid while dealing with endometriosis.

KEY POINTS:

  • Endometriosis has painful symptoms which typically worsen during menstruation periods.
  • Implementing dietary interventions aids in preventing and treating endometriosis while reducing associated pain.
  • An endometriosis diet involves making specific dietary choices to alleviate symptoms and manage the condition.
  • Foods to include in an endometriosis diet include: leafy greens, fatty fish, walnuts, yoghurt, brown rice, carrots, etc.
  • The following are foods to avoid in your diet plan for endometriosis: processed foods, refined sugar, salty snacks, red meat, alcohol, coffee, etc.

Endometriosis: Everything You Need to Know

Endometriosis is a painful and chronic condition or disorder whereby tissue which resembles the uterus inner lining grows externally or outside the uterus. 

The condition is noncancerous and affects the pelvic area. It is not uncommon for the tissue to grow beyond the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissues of the pelvis lining. 

This condition earns the name ‘Endometriosis’ because the tissue or cell lining the uterus is called the endometrium. 

The endometrial-like tissue behaves similarly to normal endometrial tissue, undergoing thickening, breakdown, and bleeding during each menstrual cycle. 

However, it cannot leave the body as normal endometrial tissue would. It gets trapped and irritated, causing inflammation which forms scar tissue and adhesions inside the pelvis overtime. The chronic inflammation is what causes the severe pelvic pain. 

Endometriosis has painful symptoms which typically worsen during menstruation periods. Symptoms of endometriosis are individual. People experience them differently, while some people experience no symptoms at all. The general symptoms include:

  • Noticeable pain during periods
  • Pain during and after intercourse
  • Increased pain during urination and other bowel movement
  • Chronic pain in the pelvis
  • Heavy bleeding during or between periods

Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in getting pregnant
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or bloating
  • Severe fatigue
  • Chronic cramps, especially during menstruation
  • Constipation
  • Anxiety and depression

How Endometriosis Affects Your Daily Life

For people living with endometriosis, performing daily activities can be tough. Endometriosis, due to the chronic inflammation, causes severe pelvic pain especially during menstruation, infertility, fatigue, and anxiety. 

The pain can be so severe for some people that it inhibits their movement and stops them from going to work. It also makes sexual intercourse a painful experience, causing interruptions. This can decrease the quality of an affected person’s sexual life and that of their partner.

Endometriosis has no known cause and there are no preventive measures or cures for this condition. The symptoms, if left untreated, can lead to infertility. Fortunately, the symptoms can be managed with an effective pain management plan and an endometriosis diet. 

Dieting is very important in managing endometriosis symptoms. Certain foods impact hormone regulation, especially estrogen balance, which has adverse effects on individuals with endometriosis. Therefore, it is advisable to steer clear of or restrict foods that can trigger inflammation in the body, potentially aggravating pain or advancing the disorder.

This article addresses and provides guidance on what to eat and what to avoid for an endometriosis diet. 

Understanding an Endometriosis-Friendly Diet

Endometriosis diet
Credit: KompleteCare

An endometriosis diet involves making specific dietary choices to alleviate symptoms and manage the condition. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, an endometriosis diet focuses on reducing inflammation, supporting hormonal balance, and promoting overall well-being.

According to a recent study, implementing dietary interventions aids in preventing and treating endometriosis while reducing associated pain. However, more research is needed to find a concrete link between dieting and resolving endometriosis symptoms. Benefits of an endometriosis diet may include:

  1. Reducing inflammation: Certain foods can contribute to inflammation in the body, which may worsen endometriosis symptoms. An endometriosis diet emphasizes on anti-inflammatory foods to help alleviate pain and discomfort.
  2. Hormone Balance: Hormonal imbalances, particularly involving estrogen, negatively impacts endometriosis. An ideal endometriosis diet may include foods that support hormone regulation and balance. The aim is to minimize symptoms related to hormonal fluctuations.
  3. Promotes gut health: A plant-based diet, particularly one rich in fiber, probiotics, antioxidants and prebiotics, can promote a healthy gut, potentially reducing inflammation.
  4. Minimizes pain and discomfort: Avoiding or reducing the intake of specific trigger foods, individuals may experience a reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life.

Consuming a nutritious balanced diet that is plant-based and has vitamin D reduces inflammation by a mile. Nutrition is crucial in reducing inflammation and managing hormonal balance. Specific foods can either promote or prevent inflammation in the body. 

So, you might want to have a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fatty fish to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms associated with endometriosis.

Additionally, there are specific nutrients and dietary components that support hormonal balance. A very good example is omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. 

These have proven to help regulate hormone levels. Foods rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, assist in balancing estrogen levels by aiding its excretion from the body.

Balancing blood sugar levels through a well-rounded diet will positively impact your hormonal balance. Consuming complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats in appropriate measures daily stabilizes blood sugar levels and prevents hormonal imbalances. 

Furthermore, some herbs and supplements, such as turmeric, magnesium, and green tea, have anti-inflammatory and hormone-regulating properties.

An endometriosis diet should be personalized and tailored to a person’s individual needs. This is because people are different and do not experience endometriosis symptoms the same way. So don’t just scroll through Google hoping to find a run-off-the-mill procedure. 

Your diet should be personalized, but it is not advised to get an over-the-counter treatment. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian with a specialty in endometriosis is important and must be prioritized. They will provide guidance and help you create a suitable diet plan based on your symptoms. 

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Foods To Include In An Endometriosis Diet

Going on a nutritious diet will not cure endometriosis but it will ease the symptoms. According to a 2022 study, current treatment methods are not curative for endometriosis but only manage various symptoms of the disease.

Although there is no direct link between dieting and endometriosis, various researches found that women who consume Omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and fish oils are less likely to develop the condition. While women whose diet regularly consist of trans fat, red meat, and alcohol are more likely to develop endometriosis.

Endometriosis diet
Credit: KompleteCare

Women with endometriosis are encouraged to map out an endometriosis diet. Dieting can lessen the body’s aggressive response to the external endometrial tissue and also positively impact other associated conditions of endometriosis like inflammation. Special foods to eat for endometriosis include:

  1. Nutrient-rich foods

Nutrient rich foods that offer antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties are one of the best foods to eat for endometriosis. They include leafy greens like spinach, pumpkin (ugu) leaves, ‘greens’, ginger, turmeric, dark chocolate, celery, nuts, beans, berries, and green tea. 

Incorporating foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and calcium sources in your endometriosis diet is highly beneficial. Such foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats, manage symptoms and also help combat inflammation. 

Additionally, your diet should have sources of essential vitamins and minerals such as lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Including them into your diet promotes well-being and manages endometriosis symptoms more effectively.

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acid

In a 2023 study, it was shown that Omega-3 fatty acids are directly linked with lowering the risk of developing endometriosis and reducing its severity in affected persons. Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as good fat or healthy fat, have anti-inflammatory properties which can help manage symptoms associated with endometriosis. 

The 2023 study  revealed that Omega-3 fatty acids can be used in diet therapy to reduce pain and inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce pain and inflammation by simply modulating the body’s inflammatory response. Omega-3s serve as foundational components for the body’s molecules responsible for relieving inflammation and pain.

Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These fish are rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are highly beneficial forms of omega-3s. Plant-based sources of omega-3s include flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. These provide alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body converts into EPA and DHA.

Endometriosis diet
Endometriosis Diet: Foods To Eat And Foods To Avoid 6

As always, consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized recommendations based on your specific needs. To incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into foods to eat for endometriosis, simply:

  • Include fatty fish in your meals at least twice a week.
  • Sprinkle ground flaxseeds or chia seeds on yogurt, cereal, or smoothies.
  • Eat walnuts or add them to salads or baked goods.

Balancing omega-3 intake with omega-6 fatty acids is important for optimum health. Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds, but excessive consumption may promote inflammation. So aim for a balanced ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in your diet.

Although including omega-3 acids in your endometriosis diet is vital, there is need for more research as evidence is lacking.

  1. Fiber-Rich Foods 

Fiber-rich foods are also essential foods to eat for endometriosis. Fiber promotes and maintains digestive health. Fiber adds bulk to your stool and softens it by absorbing the water, thereby preventing constipation. This is because it is easier for the body to pass out bulky stools. So if your stool tends to be loose and watery, then fiber is your go-to. 

Fiber helps maintain bowel health and supports regular bowel movements. Additionally, it contributes to a feeling of fullness, which may aid in weight management.

Sources of dietary fiber include whole grains such as oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread, and quinoa. Legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and black beans are also high in fiber. Additionally, fruits, vegetables, and nuts are good sources of dietary fiber. You can explore a diverse range of colorful fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, berries, broccoli, and carrots.

Aim to incorporate a variety of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables into your daily meals. Gradually increase your fiber intake to allow your body to adjust, and make sure to drink plenty of water to optimize the benefits of dietary fiber.

Foods to Avoid in an Endometriosis Diet

When it comes to managing endometriosis through dieting, certain foods should be avoided due to their potential to worsen symptoms and promote inflammation. Your lifestyle and food choice can increase the severity of endometriosis and the risk of developing it.

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Endometriosis Diet: Foods To Eat And Foods To Avoid 7

Although individual experiences vary, research suggests that reducing the intake of processed foods, refined sugars, and trans fats have positive effects for individuals with endometriosis. 

As an individual with endometriosis, you should flee from foods with high fats because fat triggers estrogen production in the body and increases estrogen circulation. 

According to a 2023 study, “Reducing dietary fat and increasing dietary fiber have been shown to reduce circulating estrogen concentrations, suggesting a potential benefit for individuals with endometriosis, as it is an estrogen-dependent disease.”

 Foods to avoid with endometriosis include: 

  1. Processed Foods 

A 2010 study highlighted the potential negative impact of processed foods on inflammatory markers and hormone regulation in individuals with endometriosis. Such foods like packaged snacks, fast food, and processed meats, are often high in additives, sodium, preservatives, and unhealthy fats. 

  1. Refined sugars 

According to a 2013 study high intake of refined sugars may contribute to inflammation and hormonal imbalances in individuals with endometriosis. The study also linked foods with refined sugar to endometrial cancer. 

People with endometriosis battle with gut problems and sugar is bad for the gut. Foods and beverages with refined sugars can spike blood sugar levels, leading to inflammation and energy crashes.

Reduce the consumption of sugary treats, desserts, and sugary beverages. Use natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or stevia, and satisfy your sweet cravings with fresh fruits or homemade snacks made with wholesome ingredients.

  1. Trans fats 

A study in 2022 explored the potential link between trans fats and endometriosis. Trans fats, commonly found in fried foods, margarine, and many packaged baked goods, have been associated with increased inflammation. 

Other healthier fat sources such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil can be explored. When cooking, try baking, grilling, or sautéing instead of deep frying.

  1. High-sodium foods

Foods high in sodium can cause bloating and water retention and are foods to avoid with endometriosis. Limiting your intake of processed foods, canned soups, and salty snacks will save you from chronic inflammation. Instead, season meals with herbs, spices, lemon juice, or vinegar for added flavor.

  1. Red Meat

A study connected red meat to higher risk of endometriosis. Another study stated that, “Red meat is another dietary factor that may be related to an increased risk of endometriosis because it can affect estrogen levels that are involved in the pathogenesis of endometriosis by promoting the expression and release of pro-inflammatory factors.”

Trigger Foods for Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a gynecological condition that depends on hormones. This means that nutrition can manage the symptoms or worsen them. This is because food influences the production of hormones and inflammatory responses. Some trigger foods to avoid with endometriosis include caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods. 

Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, and energy drinks, may aggravate symptoms like pelvic pain. Alcohol, especially in excessive quantities, can contribute to inflammation and hormonal imbalances. Spicy foods, such as hot peppers and spices, may irritate the digestive system and intensify symptoms.

Consider reducing or avoiding these beverages. Instead take herbal teas, decaffeinated alternatives, and non-alcoholic drinks like infused water or mock tails. 

Although these are common triggers, not everyone with endometriosis will experience its symptoms the same way. It could be that person A finds moderation beneficial while person B may need to eliminate these triggers from their diet completely. 

Listen to your body and observe how it reacts to certain foods. You can keep track by writing down your observations in a food journal. This will help you identify foods that trigger your symptoms and make informed decisions about your diet.

Dietary management for endometriosis is a personal journey. Speaking with your doctor or registered dietitian who specializes in endometriosis will help you develop an individualized approach to managing your symptoms through dieting.

Additional Considerations for an Endometriosis Diet

FODMAP Diet

This is a diet for people with irritable bowel syndrome and women with endometriosis also experience irritable bowels. This diet removes carbohydrates from the menu in order to irritate the gastrointestinal system. 

This basically implies eliminating a lot of foods which makes it restrictive. When following this diet, you will abstain from gluten, dairy products and processed foods.

Hydration counts.

Bloating is a common symptom of endometriosis and proper hydration reduces the risk of bloating and constipation. It is essential for overall health, including managing endometriosis symptoms. 

Staying hydrated maintains your optimal bodily functions, aids digestion, aids in nutrient absorption, and promotes healthy hormone balance. 

Drinking enough water supports regular bowel movements, reduces water retention, and promotes optimal digestion. Ideally, you should drink eight cups of water daily, especially if you exercise.

Tips for staying hydrated throughout the day

  • Have a glass of water when you wake up. This will give you the energy boost you need to start your day.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you as a reminder to drink water regularly.
  • Observe water breaks.
  • Take hydrating foods such as fruits and vegetables with high water content, like cucumbers, watermelon, and citrus fruits.
  • Herbal teas like chamomile or peppermint, not only provide hydration but also offer additional health benefits.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol: Although moderate amounts of caffeine and alcohol are acceptable, excessive consumption can cause dehydration. 
  • Set reminders. If you tend to forget drinking water throughout the day, setting reminders on your phone can help track your water intake.

Discovering your personal triggers and dietary needs for managing endometriosis is a unique journey that you should be willing to explore. Listen to your body’s reactions and responses to certain foods. 

Have a food diary for record keeping, and seek professional guidance. With patience and a positive mindset towards self-discovery, you will find a diet that supports your well-being and eases your symptoms. Trust yourself and embrace the process.

Managing Endometriosis: Embrace the journey

An endometriosis diet plays a significant role in managing endometriosis symptoms and promoting overall well-being.

Incorporate nutrient-rich foods, such as those rich in antioxidants and fiber while avoiding processed foods, refined sugars, and trans fats. 

This article also highlighted the significance of omega-3 fatty acids and the role they play in reducing inflammation. Additionally, we touched the importance of identifying personal triggers and listening to your body.

While this article provides valuable insights, keep in mind that each person’s endometriosis journey is unique. 

Therefore, it is highly recommended to consult an expert doctor or a licensed dietitian on KompleteCare who specialize in endometriosis and nutrition. They can proffer personalized advice tailored to your specific needs and help you develop a comprehensive and effective dietary plan.

KompleteCare is a platform that connects patients to seasoned professionals who are dedicated to supporting individuals with endometriosis and other health conditions.

Consult an Endometriosis Expert to receive personalized guidance and gain a deeper understanding of how nutrition can positively impact your well-being.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. By taking proactive steps towards a well-balanced diet and seeking professional advice, you can empower yourself to manage your symptoms and enhance your quality of life.

Frequently asked Questions

  1. Who gets endometriosis?

Endometriosis is not a reserved illness for a specific group of women in any specific age range. Endometriosis can be diagnosed in any woman who has developed enough to experience a monthly menstrual cycle. Women in their adolescent stage, 20’s, and 30’s, and menopause stage of life can have the symptoms and discomfort of an illness called endometriosis.

2. What is the actual cause of endometriosis?

At the moment, the actual cause of endometriosis has not been identified by medical research. But it is projected that it could be a result of immunologic dysfunction. Endometriosis is neither a sexually transmitted disease nor an infection. It is an illness that some say it runs in the family; when a mother or sister suffers from endometriosis, you possess a higher risk of having the illness as well.  

3. How can endometriosis diagnosed?

Endometriosis can be diagnosed through a surgical exploration called laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is an invasive surgical procedure that helps a healthcare professional examine the reproductive and pelvic organs, limiting the option of a large-body invasive procedure.

A surgical medical instrument that has a thin tube with light and a camera on its tip is called a laparoscope. Through a small incision, it is inserted into your abdomen, and the camera conveys the image of your inside body to a monitor.

This form of procedure does not only diagnose endometriosis; the illness is actually being treated by removing the illness from the root.

4. How does endometriosis affect infertility?

When endometriosis disease further inhibits fertility, it indicates that the endometriosis interferes with the eggs that are released from the fallopian tubes, making it hard for the egg to get to your uterus and meet with a sperm. This disease also affects the quality of the eggs by causing inflammation that makes the eggs get older quicker than in women without endometriosis.

5. Does my diet affect endometriosis symptoms?

Generally, choosing a healthy lifestyle helps your health holistically. In the case of endometriosis, there has been no link between your diet and endometriosis; however, it will help to reduce the intake of certain foods that promote inflammation and manipulate hormone production, such as trans fats, gluten, alcohol, and caffeine.

Keeping a record of foods that initiate bloating or any symptoms will be helpful. Some foods like nuts and seeds, legumes, essential fatty acid foods (sardines, salmon, and cod fish), and colourful fruits enhance your health and they can help reduce to an extent the symptoms of endometriosis.

6. How is endometriosis treated?

In order to treat endometriosis, the root cause of the disease needs to be known and addressed. The symptoms that are associated with endometriosis disease can be managed through hormonal and pain medications; however, that is not the solution to treating the disease.

The oral contraceptives, Lupron, and orlissa, administered as medical therapy, can only the stop the symptoms while the disease is worsening. To treat endometriosis, there is a need for the removal of endometrial tissue, and in that procedure, your reproductive organs are safe and your fertility is optimised. That way, you are rid of any discomfort the disease brings you.

7. How should I deal with painful sex?

Endometriosis is a disease that makes one’s life tough. You cannot stop having sex because sex is a very good aspect of maintaining intimacy in a relationship. Taking a painkiller medication one hour before you have sex with your partner could help and you could also try different sex positions that will not put too much pressure on the pain.

References

Essi, C. (2023). Endometriosis diet: foods to eat and foods to avoid.

Marcinkowska, A., & Górnicka, M. (2023). The Role of Dietary Fats in the Development and Treatment of Endometriosis. Life, 13(3), 654. https://doi.org/10.3390/life13030654

Barnard ND, Holtz DN, Schmidt N, Kolipaka S, Hata E, Sutton M, Znayenko-Miller T, Hazen ND, Cobb C, Kahleova H. Nutrition in the prevention and treatment of endometriosis: A review. Front Nutr. 2023 Feb 17;10:1089891. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2023.1089891. PMID: 36875844; PMCID: PMC9983692.

Endometriosis Diet: Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid

Healthline

https://www.healthline.com › health › endometriosis-diet

Lane, M. M., Lotfaliany, M., Forbes, M., Loughman, A., Rocks, T., Machado, P., Jacka, F. N., Hodge, A., & Marx, W. (2022). Higher Ultra-Processed Food Consumption Is Associated with Greater High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein Concentration in Adults: Cross-Sectional Results from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study. Nutrients, 14(16). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14163309

Huijs E, Nap A. The effects of nutrients on symptoms in women with endometriosis: a systematic review. Reprod Biomed Online. 2020 Aug;41(2):317-328. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2020.04.014. Epub 2020 May 15. PMID: 32600946.

Missmer, S. A., Chavarro, J. E., Malspeis, S., R., E., Hornstein, M. D., Spiegelman, D., Barbieri, R. L., Willett, W. C., & Hankinson, S. E. (2010). A prospective study of dietary fat consumption and endometriosis risk. Human Reproduction, 25(6), 1528-1535. https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/deq044

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Claire Essi

Claire Essi is a health researcher and freelance health content creator. As a health and wellness junkie, she enjoys all things related to quality lifestyle and healthy living.

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