Ten tips for a healthy eating plan for women with endometriosis

By Dian shepperson mills, Nutritionist

Many women with endometriosis – whether they suffer from pain, infertility, or both – have found that a healthy diet, rich in nutrients, may help improve their symptoms.

Here are ten tips about what you can do to improve your diet – with a short explanation on why certain nutrients may be so important.

1. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables improve your digestion and help to balance your oestrogen levels.

The clearance system for oestrogen, cholesterol, and toxins is your liver and healthy gut flora. Oestrogen is broken down in the liver into a safe form for excretion – bound to soluble fibre (such as oats) [1].

A healthy liver requires B vitamins from green leafy vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower), which contain a specific phyto-chemical, which helps to break down the oestradiol into the safer oestriol form for excretion [2]. Healthy gut flora also provides B vitamins.

TIP: At breakfast have a cup of hot water with a slice of root ginger and lemon, as it supports your liver.

2. Make sure you get antioxidants to strengthen your immune system

A strong immune system depends upon the antioxidants from your diet. The minerals, selenium, zinc, manganese and vitamins A, C and E are essential to stop free-radical damage to your cell membranes. The body makes free radicals all the time, but the immune system is able to neutralize them if these antioxidant nutrients are present [3].

Sugar-rich foods can upset the way with which your body’s white blood cells can deal with all the toxins and dead cell debri [4].

If you have food allergies and/or intolerances then sort them out. If you eat a food that is upsetting you every day, it locks up your immune system. Your immune white blood cells are then constantly at battle with those food particles it sees as the enemy [5,6]. If you cut the offending food from your diet your immune system can then calm down. We need our white blood cells to be attacking the real enemy: the rogue endometriosis cells growing in the wrong place.

TIP: You can support your immune system by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries, oily and white fish, and lean meat.

3. Eat foods that help reduce pain

The body has pain pathways that help to produce the right reaction to pain to dampen it down. In trauma we produce endorphins in the brain (natural opiates), which help us cope with pain and reduce the extent of it.

Nutrients involved in pain pathways are:

Thiamine (vitamin B1) is part of endorphin production [7]. Vitamin B1 is found in: brown rice, oatmeal, peanuts, pork, lamb

Fish oils (ecosapentonaic acid) are involved in pain reduction in the body.  Omega-3 fatty acids, have an anti-inflammatory effect (8), as can turmeric and the proanthacydins from berries. Essential fatty acids, which must be unhydrogenated, unrefined or cold pressed, e.g. linseed oil, evening primrose oil, fish liver oils – salmon, halibut.

c. Vitamin B1 thiamine, B6 pyridoxine and B12 cobalamin, when taken together, act as analegesics, and dampen down pain (9, 10). Vitamin B6 foods are oat bran, egg yolks, leeks, cod, trout. Vitamin B12 is in organic milk, cheese, eggs, pork, miso paste.

d. Vitamins C as ascorbic acid or magnesium ascorbate, and vitamin E, alpha tocopherol, are also anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine (11, 12, 13, 14). Vitamin C is in lemon juice, berries, hard fruits, new and sweet potatoes, cauliflower. Vitamin E foods are Soya beans, cold pressed olive oil, broccoli, sprouts, green leafy vegetables.

e. Magnesium anaesthetizes the central nervous system and relaxes smooth muscle, the muscles that can cramp in the uterus and cause bowel spasms (15, 16). Magnesium is in kelp, oat bran, most nuts, buckwheat, millet, green beans.

By eating a well balanced diet alongside having a good digestion your body can help pain control.

 

 

 

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