As you may know, I’ve suffered from endometriosis for almost 30 years… although at the start I didn’t know that is was what it was. Like lots of women, I just assumed everyone had these horrendous period pains and that being in agony every month was ‘the norm’. (Um, it isn’t by the way. And don’t let anyone ‘fob you off’ if you’re suffering terribly every month and aren’t getting any answers…)
It was only as I got older, did my research and finally got diagnosed by a doctor, that the word endometriosis even came up.
If you don’t know, or just want a quick reminder, endometriosis is a condition which affects an estimated 10-15% of the female population. The condition causes tissues which usually grow inside the uterus (womb) to grow also outside of the uterus. Tissues will begin to grow in places such as the Fallopian tubes and ovaries causing pain and discomfort. It can even grow in the nose causing nose bleeds during your time of the month. Essentially, your body’s immune system likely isn’t working as well as it should and allowing this extra growth to happen.
Some of the symptoms associated with endometriosis are tummy and back pain, nausea, constipation, pain during or after sexual intercourse and particularly heavy periods. But one of the most unfortunate side effects of the condition is that women with endometriosis may find that becoming pregnant is much more difficult than is usual. I don’t know if this was our actual issue in the end, but I’m pretty sure it can’t have helped. And I definitely know that immune issues caused problems for me, which, a lot of doctors believe endometriosis contributes to.
There is sadly & currently no known cure for the condition, but there are many ways to manage it such as pain relief medication, surgery (which removes the excess tissue growth) and management using oral contraceptives (although they may come with their own handful of side effects too). However, it is also suggested that an alteration in diet can provide relief too. And I’m all for doing whatever I can to help my pains and get my body back on track!
But what are the best foods to eat in order to manage the condition? Well, unfortunately, there’s no ‘one food cures all’ diet, but I thought I’d pop down here some that have helped me and might help you too. Whilst these foods will not cure the condition, they can certainly play a part in relieving symptoms and possibly make you feel a little more comfortable. (It also goes without saying that it’s highly advisable to speak with your doctor before making any radical changes to your diet.)
Salmon is rich in Omega 3, as are other fatty fish dishes. Eating a lot of Omega 3 rich foods has actually been scientifically proven to reduce the chances of developing endometriosis by a huge 22%. Omega 3 is excellent at tackling inflammation which is a major factor in the condition.
This is a food that contains melatonin which has very effective pain-relieving properties, and any woman with endometriosis will tell you that this is a big issue with suffering from the condition. Hell to the yeah of the pain!
3. Green Tea
Not only is green tea a very detoxifying beverage, it also has a high EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate – oooh fancy long word alert!) which has been proven to fight certain cancerous tumours and is also recommended to help prevent the growth of tissue in endometriosis patients.
Just like oatmeal, Cherries contain high levels of melatonin and of course you can also create a lovely, sweet accompaniment to your oatmeal by adding a few cherries. My little boy loves cherries, so it’s a fight to grab them before he eats them all! Although it is suggested to try eating the more tart varieties of cherry for maximum effect.
5. Fresh Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is a pickled cabbage and mighty tasty. You can buy it ready-made or whip up a batch at home. The main reason that it is suggested for the relief of endometriosis is because it contains live probiotics which are essential for a healthy gut. If your gut is happy and healthy, your general health will benefit.
6. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is also fantastic for a healthy gut but it also is high in vitamin B. Vitamin B is essential for hormone production, and with a condition based around our hormonal system, it’s extremely important to maintain a healthy one. Plus it’s a real comfort food for when you’re feeling a bit drained – yum, result!
If water didn’t make this list, I’d have been surprised. How often do you hear the question ‘Would you like a glass of water?’ when you have any ailment? But it’s for good reason, water is the base of what the body needs to remain healthy and by drinking plenty of it you can improve your overall health including any symptoms related to endometriosis.
8. Leafy Green Vegetables
These types of veggies are full of antioxidants and have been linked to a lower chance of developing endometriosis as such. They are able to also rid the body of any extra hormones due to their high fibre content.
9. Flax Seeds
Known for containing phytoestrogens which are plant-based chemicals similar to the female hormone found in humans. These have been linked to a decline in the development of advanced endometriosis and can also be found in food such as soybeans and almonds.
10. Brown Rice
Similar to the leafy green vegetables, brown rice is high in fibre, so that’s gonna be great for your gut your body and getting rid of excess estrogen too.
If you can incorporate all or any of these foods into your diet, you will probably notice a marked improvement in your symptoms over time. But remember that it is important to maintain these foods within your diet so to keep on top of your symptoms.
Now here’s the boring bit – the foods you should avoid. I’ll be honest, I don’t stick to this list, because, well, the treats are often too tasty to resist.
But you should avoid sugar, chocolate, eggs, alcohol, saturated fats, caffeine and tinned foods. I told you it was the boring bit! I personally think the advantage of dark chocolate (70%+) and red wine outweigh the negatives, (haha, well, that’s my excuse anyway!) but this is the list nonetheless.
That’s not to say you should never eat them but be very mindful of the effect they may have and try to eat them as little as possible. So, do a combo – try to cut these out and try to include some of the foods above, and hopefully, you’ll start to feel even a little improvement in your pain and inflammation with endo.
Good luck, my lovely friend, and let me know how you get on below – let’s survive together 🙂 x