Eating for ENDOMETRIOSIS Part 2: Diets Associated with relieving endometriosis symptomsMar 29, 2023
If you are an endo warrior you may have heard of different dietary approaches which can help to reduce endo symptoms and manage the condition. Whilst we’d love to direct you to a specific diet that can resolve it all, the reality is that it comes down to the individual and finding dietary tweaks that suit their condition. This is why it’s so important to work 1:1 with a qualified health practitioner who can provide specific dietary guidelines to suit your needs.
Here we outline some of the dietary approaches often used for individuals with endometriosis.
The low FODMAP diet is a type of elimination diet that has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The diet involves avoiding certain types of carbohydrates, including fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, causing pain and discomfort. There is limited research on the relationship between the low FODMAP diet and endometriosis. However, some studies suggest that a low FODMAP diet may be beneficial in reducing gastrointestinal symptoms in women with endometriosis.
In one study of 160 patients with irritable bowel syndrome; 59 of them with endometriosis and 101 without, understood a Low-FODMAP diet for 4 weeks. A significantly higher proportion of patients with known endometriosis responded to the diet (n = 43, 72%) compared with those without (n = 49, 49%; P = 0.001).
It is important to note that the low FODMAP diet is not a treatment for endometriosis itself, and it should not be used as a replacement for medical treatment. It’s also not a long term dietary approach but a food challenge which is why it’s important to be guided by your health practitioner so you don’t risk nutrient deficiencies.
GLUTEN FREE DIET
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and some people with endometriosis may experience relief from their symptoms by following a gluten-free diet. This is because gluten can cause inflammation in some individuals, and endometriosis is an inflammatory condition.
However, it's important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing endometriosis symptoms. Some individuals may not experience any improvement by following a gluten-free diet, and others may have other food sensitivities or allergies that may exacerbate their symptoms.
In one study of 270 patients with severe painful endometriosis-related symptoms, a gluten-free diet was submitted to all patients and a new evaluation was performed after 12 months of diet. At 12 month follow-up, 156 patients (75%) reported statistically significant change in painful symptoms (P<0.005), 51 patients (25%) reported not improvement of symptoms.
MEDITERRANEAN STYLE DIET
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that emphasizes whole, plant-based foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Research suggests that following a Mediterranean-style diet may be beneficial for individuals with endometriosis.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and olive oil. It also includes moderate amounts of fish and poultry, and limits red meat and processed foods. This pattern of eating provides a variety of nutrients and antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation in the body.
One study found that women with endometriosis who followed a Mediterranean diet had lower levels of inflammation and reported less pain and discomfort compared to those who did not follow the diet.
In an uncontrolled prospective study of 68 patients, before and after laparoscopic surgery found that adherence to a mediterranean style diet significantly relieved general pain (NRS 4.2 ± 3.0 vs. 2.0 ± 2.3; p < 0.01), as well as improved the general condition.
LIMITING ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE
Caffeine and alcohol are two substances that may affect individuals with endometriosis differently. While some people may not experience any significant impact on their symptoms, others may find that consuming caffeine or alcohol exacerbates their pain and discomfort.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase heart rate and blood pressure, and may also affect hormone levels. Some women with endometriosis may find that consuming caffeine worsens their symptoms, particularly their pain levels. If you are experiencing pain related to endometriosis, it may be helpful to reduce your caffeine intake or eliminate it altogether to see if it improves your symptoms.
Alcohol is a depressant that can affect the nervous system and may also impact hormone levels. While some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption may have a protective effect against endometriosis, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration and inflammation, which may worsen endometriosis symptoms.
It's also important to note that alcohol can interact with medications that you may be taking for endometriosis, so it's important to speak with your healthcare provider about whether or not alcohol consumption is safe for you.
Overall, it's important to pay attention to your body and how it responds to caffeine and alcohol. If you find that consuming these substances worsens your endometriosis symptoms, it may be helpful to reduce or eliminate them from your diet.
Summary of nutrition tips for endometriosis:
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is often associated with endometriosis.
- Choose whole grains: Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat bread are rich in fiber and can help regulate digestion and reduce constipation, which is a common symptom of endometriosis.
- Include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, as well as in nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds and chia seeds, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with endometriosis.
- Avoid processed and high-fat foods: Processed and high-fat foods can increase inflammation in the body and worsen endometriosis symptoms.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can worsen symptoms such as pain, bloating, and mood swings in women with endometriosis. Limiting or avoiding these substances may help alleviate symptoms.
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