Dietary fibre increases excretion of excess oestrogen from the body. Some fibres such as the lignins found in rye and seeds are synthesised by gut flora to form anti-oestrogenic compounds, which are protective against cancers. Soluble fibre binds to oestrogen and inhibits its re-absorption. A diet rich in oats, seeds, fruits and vegetables, soluble fibre also promotes synthesis of a hormone known as Sex-Hormone-Binding-Globulin (SHBG), which is a unique transport system for oestrogen. While oestrogen is bound to SHBG, it cannot exert any biological effect within the body. But if fibre intake is low, then the oestrogen can have a biological effect, triggering the endometriosis implants to grow. A vegetarian, low-fat diet reduces period pain and increases SHBG. Bifido bacteria in the gut encourages oestrogen clearance by inhibiting an enzyme known as beta glucoronidase. This enzyme, when high, encourages the deactivated safe oestrogen to become reactivated so that it can be sent back into circulation (not a good idea with endometriosis).
Fibre plays a very important role in maintaining a healthy digestive system. The best source of dietary fibre is from whole foods, unrefined wholegrain cereals, nuts, seeds, berries and pulses. A diet high in fibre will help to flush excess oestrogens from the body, by binding the oestrogens and inhibiting their re-absorption. It is important to eat a balance of the two types of fibre – soluble and non- soluble.
The words soluble or non-soluble refer to whether a fibre is dissolved and broken down in your system. Soluble fibre is found in higher amounts in fruit and vegetables like celery, carrot, potato and other root vegetables as well as in legumes, and linseed meal are also good sources of fibre. The non-soluble fibre is found in the rough part of foods – the husks of grain, the skins of certain fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fibre does not absorb much water and is completely indigestible, which is why insoluble fibre adds the ‘bulk’ to our stools. It is important to balance your fibre intake, between the two types to avoid issues like constipation or diarrhea.
If you eat mainly non-soluble fibre you could end up being constipated. Non-soluble fibre absorbs water from your gut as it passes through the digestive system. As it absorbs water from the stomach, it can slow down the transit time of excretion, as things dry up. The slower the transit time takes the dryer your gut becomes and this can create some difficulty to excrete – constipation. Alternatively if you eat lots of soluble fibre you could end up with ‘the runs’.
Sources of insoluble fibre
|Cabbage||Carrots||Celery||Corn Bran||Seeds Nuts|
|Couscous||Cucumbers||Dark Leafy Vegetables||Dried Fruit||Fruit|
|Root Vegetable Skins||Tomatoes||Wheat Bran||Whole Grains||Whole Wheat|
Soluble fibre is beneficial for smooth digestion it can aid the body to naturally expel hormones. Soluble fibre is like a sponge, it absorbs water and becomes jelly like, making it easier to pass and prevent constipation. When ingested, soluble fibre binds to excess oestrogen and inhibits re-absorption. To relieve endometriosis symptoms it is recommended sufferers consume at least 25 – 30 grams a day.
Sources of soluble fibre
|Oat Bran||Oat Cereal||Oatmeal||Oranges||Peas - Fresh|
The benefits of getting more fibre in your diet
- Fibre keeps you ‘regular’. It helps prevent constipation which may help with abdominal pain if you don’t need to strain when going to the toilet.
- Fibre helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels. With fibre, you get a slow steady release of energy over a longer time frame. This can aid in appetite control, management of energy levels, weight and mood management.
- Fibrous foods, particularly fruit and veg can help to reduce inflammation. They have an alkalizing effect on the blood. This can help reduce inflammation as more acidic foods (coffee, fizzy drinks, citrus fruits etc.) can increase inflammation and make symptoms worse.
- The bacteria in our gut feed on dietary fibre. Some of the products from these bacteria can help our immune system to function more effectively.
- Some plants contain phyto-oestrogens (phyto refers to plant). These bind weakly to and block the effects of oestrogen produced by our own body, helping to lessen its effects.
A daily intake of more than 30 g can be easily achieved if you eat wholegrain cereal products, more fruit, vegetables and legumes and, instead of low-fibre cakes and biscuits, have nuts or seeds as a snack or use in meals.
Tips to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
- Eat more whole fruit instead of fruit juice.
- Read labels. Look for the word “whole” before any grains on the ingredient list and check the number of grams of dietary fiber on the nutrition facts panel of packages to select high-fiber foods.
- Start your day with a bowl of bran or other high-fiber cereal that contains at least five grams of fiber per serving.
- Snack on raw vegetables.
- Add legumes, seeds, and nuts into soups, salads, and stews.
- Replace refined white bread, pasta, and rice with whole-grain products.
- Eat a vegetarian meal at least once a week.
When boosting your fibre intake, you should do it gradually, and you must also increase your fluid intake too to offset the fibre, if you want to avoid getting bunged up and full of wind. Fibre is like a sponge, so to make the most of its properties and get all the benefits from it, you need to provide the liquid that will enable it to swell up.
 S Stock, Nutrition and Hormones, Nutrition Therapy Today (1995), vol 3-4, Society for the Promotion of Nutritional Therapy.
 L D Cowan et al, Breast cancer incidence in women with a history of progesterone deficiency, American Journal of Epidemiology (1981), 114(2):209-17.
 15. N D Barnards, A R Scialli, D Hurlock, P Bertron, Obstetrics & Gynecology (2000), 95(2) 245-50.