Foods you should avoid
Diet and proper nutrition can support the immune and reproductive systems, to work at their optimal level. Control of oestrogen is a nutritional process it can be disturbed by too much sugar, too little protein and is incapacitated almost completely by lack of vitamin B complex.
In order to detoxify the liver, the body requires a consistent supply of B vitamins in order to create the enzymes needed. Vegetables make a major contribution to B vitamin intake and also the intake of magnesium and fibre. Vitamin B6 encourages production of progesterone to help rebalance the two main sex hormones. It is important to eliminate foods out of your diet that will only serve to imbalance oestrogen and allow endometriosis an opportunity to grow.
According to research, consuming red meat increases your risk of endometriosis by 80[i]. It is believed the consumption of red meat red meat will increase the production of the negative prostaglandins that are partly responsible for muscle cramping, uterine cramping, pain signals and inflammation. Consumption of non-organic red meat can produce an acid which acts as an inflammatory agent. Under current commercial farming and manufacturing practices, non-organic red meat can be full of hormones, antibiotics and unwanted chemicals. Processed red meat commonly contains sodium, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives.
Processed meats in particularly like ham should be avoided at all costs, process meats have food additives such as sodium nitrate, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, continued consumption of regular amounts of processed meat can be highly toxic and can interfere with functioning of your reproductive system.
Trans fats, also known as trans fatty acid are made through the chemical process of hydrogenation of oils. To make vegetable oils suitable for deep-frying, the oils are subjected to hydrogenation. Hydrogenation solidifies liquid oils and increases the shelf life and the flavor stability of oils and foods that contain them. Trans fat is found in vegetable shortenings and in some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods and other foods.
New research suggests women whose diets are heavily laden with trans fats are more likely to develop endometriosis. Data indicates that specific types of dietary fats are associated with the incidence of laparoscopically confirmed endometriosis, and that these relations may indicate modifiable risk.[ii] Specific dietary fatty acids are known to influence the circulating levels of IL-6 and other inflammatory markers found in higher levels among women with endometriosis[iii].
Refined Sugar, Processed Foods and Artificial Sweeteners
Refined sugar is now termed sweet poison by many. In all forms refined, artificial or natural, sugar produces a more acidic environment within the body that can encourage the inflammatory pain of endometriosis and create an environment in which bacteria and viruses can thrive.
- Sugar has been proven to destroy the germ-killing ability of white blood cells for up to five hours after ingestion.
- It reduces the production of antibodies, proteins that combine with and inactivate foreign invaders in the body.
- It interferes with the transport of vitamin C, one of the most important nutrients for all facets of immune function.
- It causes mineral imbalances and sometimes allergic reactions, both of which weaken the immune system.
It neutralizes the action of essential fatty acids, thus making cells more permeable to invasion by microorganisms, like endometriosis.
Refined sugar is found in many processed foods. All the processed foods come with additives, preservatives and chemical flavors that stimulate the growth of bad prostaglandins. Eliminating these foods from your diet can considerably reduce the outbreaks and symptoms of endometriosis.
Artificial sweeteners have been linked with increased oestrogen levels, adverse effect on the immune system, increased inflammation and increased testosterone levels.[iv] Natural sweeteners are a better choice if you really want to sweeten your food or drink. If you are looking for a natural sweetener to use instead, try stevia (without any additives), agave syrup or xylitol.
Soy is filled with phytoestrogens also known as “dietary oestrogens,” which mimic the hormone oestrogen that is naturally produced by the human body. Raw, unfermented and highly processed soy is extremely difficult to digest and quite inflammatory. Unfermented soy based foods should be eliminated from your diet or at the very least kept to a minimum. Unfermented soy based foods contain two isoflavones, (genistein and daidzen) they are a natural type of plant oestrogen that can increase oestrogen levels in humans. This is particularly concerning for many endometriosis patients as it can be a potential dietary trigger of pain.
The fermentation of soybeans, however, gets rid of nearly all the natural toxicity and allows the beneficial phyto-chemicals to be more easily absorbed into the body. All Asian foods, such as tofu, natto, miso, tempeh and soy sauce, are made from fermented soybeans and are excellent sources of omega-3’s and protein for the endometriosis diet. Where as foods such as soy milk and soy cheese, however, are made from unfermented soybeans and should be avoided.
The consumption of caffeine increases oestrogen levels in your body. It can interfere with liver functionality, by reducing its ability to detoxify and eliminate excess oestrogen. Caffeine also interferes with the production of progesterone, which counteracts the adverse effects of oestrogen. According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, women who have two or more cups of caffeinated coffee (or four cans of cola) per day were found to be twice as likely to develop endometriosis as other women.[v]. Its important to note, caffeine is not only found in coffee, but also in black and green tea, cola, Red Bull, and cocoa.
The Liver is responsible for expelling excess oestrogen from the body. Consumption of alcohol puts an excessive burden on the liver. Elimination of alcohol from the body becomes paramount and thereby hinders its capacity of eliminating the oestrogen from your body. Furthermore, alcohol creates acidity which in its turn can cause inflammation. Alcohol may also be a factor in endometriosis. Compared with healthy women and women with other gynaecological problems, women who drink alcohol appear to have a greater incidence of endometriosis.[vi] In women with infertility, the risk of endometriosis was 50 percent higher in individuals who drank alcohol compared with control subjects.[vii]
Limiting the consumption of dairy products is quite essential. Dairy products contain saturated fats that can place an additional burden on the liver and as a consequence increase the oestrogen levels in the body. Consumption of dairy products should be limited to about 2 times a week at most. Choose organic raw dairy products when possible. Homogenized and pasteurized cow milk is the most congesting and hard to digest of all dairy products. Choose dairy milk alternatives, such as hemp, almond or brown rice milk instead. Organic raw unsweetened yogurt or kefir are the best choices for dairy products. Be sure that any dairy you do consume is organic. Endometriosis sufferers are encouraged to avoid dairy and opt for calcium-rich alternatives such as unsweetened almond, coconut or rice milk.
There are several different types of yoghurt, including commercial, sweetened, and flavoured yoghurts. Yoghurts high in sugar and additives must be avoided, however yoghurts made using natural ‘live cultures’ are actually beneficial to your health. These yoghurts contain active bacteria which are beneficial to the health of your intestinal flora.
You can buy ‘live’ yoghurt of various types including cow’s milk yoghurt, sheep’s milk yoghurt, and goat’s milk yoghurt.
Eggs contain oestrogen, but for those of you who wish to continue eating eggs, the levels of oestrogen obtained from one egg when used in a typical baking recipe, will be fine. But you must ensure you use only organically reared, free-range eggs. Commercially reared hens will consume hormones and chemicals in their feed which will be passed on to you.
[i] Parazzini F, Chiaffarino F, Surace M, et al. “Selected food intake and risk of endometriosis”. Hum Reprod 19, 1755–1759.
[ii] Missmer SA, Chavarro JE, Malspeis S, et al. A prospective study of dietary fat consumption and endometriosis risk. Hum Reprod. 2010;25:1528-35.
[iii] Baer DJ, Judd JT, Clevidence BA, Tracy RP. Dietary fatty acids affect plasma markers of inflammation in healthy men fed controlled diets: a randomized crossover study. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;79:969-973
[iv] 12. Rahiman F, “The effects of artificial and natural sweeteners on various physiological systems” May 2011, etd.uwc.ac.za
[v] Grodstein F, Goldman MB, Ryan L, Cramer DW. Relation of female infertility to consumption of caffeinated beverages. Am J Epidemiol. 1993;137:1353-1360.
[vi] 6. Perper MM, Breitkopf LJ, Breitstein R, Cody RP, Manowitz P. MAST scores, alcohol consumption, and gynecological symptoms in endometriosis patients. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1993;17:272-278.
[vii] 7. Grodstein F, Goldman MB, Cramer DW. Infertility in women and moderate alcohol use. Am J Public Health. 1994;84:1429-1432.