Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women in the US during their reproductive years. It is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. It is often painful and usually involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and tissue lining the pelvis, there is a small chance the tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis but studies have shown there are some simple changes you can make in your diet to reduce symptoms.
Increase Intake of Omega-3 Fats
These fatty acids are found in foods such as fish, flaxseed, and other plant sources. Studies have shown that a high ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats inhibits the survival of endometrial cells and may discourage the implantation of endometrial cells. If you’re struggling to get enough omega-3 fats from your diet, try taking a fish oil supplement. Not only does fish oil contain essential omega-3 fats it may also decrease menstrual symptoms and pain.
Avoid Trans Fats
While only a few studies have been done in regard to trans fats and endometriosis, it has been shown that women who ate the highest amounts of trans fats had a 48% increased risk of endometriosis.
Sources of trans fats include:
- Cakes, pies, and cookies
- Microwave popcorn
- Fried foods
- Frozen pizza
Stay away from high-fat foods, since they may increase the level of circulating estrogen in your body.
Reduce Red Meat Consumption
Many studies link red meat, inflammation, and endometriosis symptoms. One significant study found that women who ate beef every day were nearly twice as likely to have endometriosis, while those who got seven or more fruit and vegetable servings a week were at least 40% less likely.
Focus on Fruits, Veggies, and Whole Grains
Filling your plate with a colorful and nutritious spread of fruits and veggies will give your body essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber needed to function properly. These foods also provide antioxidants that help combat inflammation which in turn reduces endometriosis related pain. Vitamin B and Iron are great combatants for endometriosis symptoms, here are a few good sources:
- Brussel sprouts
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
Alcohol impairs liver function and increase the amount of excess estrogen circulating in the body. Limiting your alcohol intake can minimize your symptoms.
Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods aren’t good for anyone but avoiding them may prove especially beneficial to women suffering from endometriosis. Processed foods are generally high in unhealthy fats and low in essential nutrients and fiber which may promote pain and inflammation.
Limit Gluten and Soy
One study in 207 women with severe endometriosis pain found that 75% of them experienced significant decreases in pain after 12 months on a gluten-free diet. It may also be beneficial to limit soy because soy contains phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that can mimic estrogen. While it is unknown how phytoestrogens affect endometriosis, some evidence suggests that it may be harmful. One study found that women fed soy formula as infants had more than double the risk of endometriosis than women who were not fed soy formula as infants.