While there is no specific eating plan for endometriosis, following certain dietary guidelines can help you relieve symptoms and manage endometriosis. Regardless of the cause, endometriosis is fuelled by oestrogen. The key to controlling endometriosis through diet lies in the role of oestrogen and prostaglandins in the body. Prostaglandins are naturally occurring fatty acids, derived from what we put into our bodies thru diet. The body can produce a variety of prostaglandins—good ones and bad ones. The goal of a good diet, of course, is the increase the good prostaglandins to offset the effects of the bad prostaglandins!
For example, certain prostaglandins in the body increase uterine contractions. With the right dietary choices, we can increase the good prostaglandins to soothe and calm the body and reduce those contractions. (Some especially negative prostaglandins are found in saturated fats, butter, and red meat—avoid these as much as possible.)
In a study published in the July 2004 issue of “Human Reproduction,” F. Parazzini and colleagues studied the relationship between diet and pelvic endometriosis. The results suggest that increased intakes of fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of endometriosis and that the intake of red meat, beef and ham increases this risk.
Buy organic produce
Where funds permits buy organic produce. Organic produce will not contain harmful pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals. These toxins have been shown to impact fertility in both men and women. Studies have also shown that they impact the fertility and DNA of the fetus. Organic produce has also been shown to have more nutrients due to the sustainable and nourishing farming practices organic farmers follow.
Fruits and vegetables
Autoimmune diseases are thought to be triggered by free radicals in the body, which could be an added factor in endometriosis. Free radicals are destructive molecules and are found naturally in the body but can be made worse by pollution, stress, illness and smoking. Consumption of certain fruits and vegetables contain minerals and vitamins that will naturally help to fight off these free – radicals because of their antioxidant properties, including: vitamins A,C,E, CoQ10, selenium, vitamin B complex, as well as specific supplements being sold specifically as Antioxidants.
Certain vegetables have substances that activate liver enzymes and help the liver to detoxify chemicals. This allows the liver to eliminate excess oestrogen from the body more effectively.
The best vegetables to eat are those from the cruciferous family, all rich in B vitamins and magnesium, such as cabbage, sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnip, swede, radish, horseradish, mustard and cress. These contain three unique compounds – indoles, dithiolthiones and isothiocynates – which influence enzymes that help eliminate excess oestrogen.1 Grandmas are right when they say “Eat up your greens”! To help your ovaries and uterus work effectively, make sure that you eat four portions of vegetables every day. Avoiding the bad saturated animal fats, hydrogenated and damaged ‘trans’ fats, and eating cold-pressed oils is also important.
Vegetables to include in the endometriosis diet
Peas Beans Brussel sprouts Beets Watercress
Carrot Parsnip Cabbage Broccoli Sprouted seeds
Rhubarb Cauliflower Fennel Garlic Celery
Parsley Radish Lettuce Onion Leek Sweet Potato Cucumber Green Beans
Garlic is natural antioxidant that helps the immune system fight the formation of free radicals and foreign invaders, including bacteria, viruses as well as the development of endometrial implants and adhesion. Garlic has the ability to activate liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic also holds high amounts of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing.
Carrots and Beets are two of the most powerful allies in cleansing the liver and assisting in the expulsion of excess oestrogens. These root vegetables can be eaten raw, cooked or juiced. Extremely high in plant-flavonoids, fibre and beta-carotene, their consumption inhibits the oxidation of other free radicals and protects the body from free radicals. With their distinct ability to neutralize heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides, these cleansing foods offer a powerful protective mechanism for the liver.
Control of oestrogen is a nutritional process. Endometriosis suffers who lack sufficient levels of vitamin B complex, will struggle to control inflammation and endometriosis out breaks. The body requires a consistent supply of B vitamins in order to create the enzymes needed to detoxify the liver. Vegetables make a major contribution to B vitamin intake and also the intake of magnesium and fibre.
Fruits to include in the endometriosis diet
Apple Lemon Blue Berries Raspberries Apricots
High in pectin, apples hold the chemical constituents needed for the body to cleanse and release toxins from the digestive tract. This, in turn, makes it easier for the liver to handle the toxic over load during the cleansing process.
Lemons and limes contain very high amounts of the vitamin C, which aids the body in synthesising toxic material into substance that can be absorbed by water. Drinking freshly-squeezed lemon or lime juice in the morning helps stimulate the liver.
Eating half of a grapefruit per day will meet 64% of your vitamin C needs, 28% of vitamin A, 2% of calcium and 2% of magnesium. High in vitamin C and antioxidants, grapefruit increases the natural cleansing processes of the liver. A small glass of freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice will help boost production of liver detoxification enzymes that help flush out carcinogens and other toxins.
Tomatoes A chemical in tomatoes called Lycopene was also found to prevent adhesions, where scar tissue builds up and can cause internal organs to stick together after surgery. From an article in The Daily Mail: ‘Dr Tarek Dbouk, from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, said lycopene could become a safe and cheap treatment in conditions such as endometriosis.
In a laboratory study, presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in San Francisco, the nutrient was found to cut the presence of proteins that cause scar tissue to form by between 80% and 90%.
Simply increasing the amount of lycopene in the diet through taking supplements or increasing the intake of tomatoes could become a preventative treatment before abdominal surgery and may lead to new treatments for endometriosis, he said.
You can easily increase your intake of tomatoes with soups, pasta sauces, and tomatoes included in casserole mixes. Apparently lycopene is taken up by the body better when tomatoes are cooked as this alters its structure. Lycopene is also present in papaya and rosehips.
Other foods with anti inflammatory fighting power:
- Dark chocolate – in moderation, varieties with 70% or more cocoa solids can help to reduce inflammation.
Note: Contrary to what generations before us have said about the goodness is in the skin …. you do need to peel your vegetables and fruit as the skins will probably contain dioxins picked up from pesticides and sprays. Your liver just doesn’t need the extra load to expel.
1. J E Spallholz et al, Immunologic responses of mice fed diets supplemented with selenite selenium, Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine (1973), 143(3):685-9.