Endometriosis Diet: Foods to Avoid

endometriosis diet

What you consume is extremely important if you suffer from endometriosis, as there are certain foods that start a sort of chain reaction, which could be making your symptoms worse. In this article I want to look at an endometriosis diet; specifically foods you should avoid eating if you suffer from the condition. It may seem like a drastic measure at first, but many women say they start to feel better with these diet changes.

Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrium, cells that line the uterus (womb), are found growing outside of it, whether that is the pelvic area, the abdominal area, around the ovaries and sometimes the bowels. Rarely, it can be found growing in other areas around the body.

Diet plays an important role in health and, has been used as a powerful method to manage a range of conditions, including endometriosis.

Before we get to the food part, I want to say that every woman is different and, while everything listed in this article has been known to make symptoms worse, you may find that you have no problems with them. Therefore, I suggest that while you are making changes to your diet, you should keep a food diary to track what you are eating and how it affects your body.


Red Meat

Endometriosis Diet

Red meat can potentially wreak havoc on hormones

There have been various studies that look at the relationship between red meat and endometriosis, with results that in fact suggest that red meat could be a contributing factor to endometriosis. It is even noted that women who consume red meat seven days a week are nearly twice as likely to develop endometriosis than those who only eat it a few days a week.

The major reason that red meat is considered to be a risk factor for endometriosis is because it increases the amount of prostaglandins in the body. Prostaglandins, in relation to your period, helps the womb to contract and remove its lining. However, too many prostaglandins in your body, or a sensitivity to prostaglandin, is what causes the severe period pain, muscle cramping and uterine pain associated with endometriosis.


Dairy

dairy and endometriosis

This includes chocolate too

Unfortunately, dairy products – milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt, etc. – are also foods that you should think about cutting for an endometriosis diet. There have not been many studies done on the effects of dairy and endometriosis, but some women do notice an improvement when they eliminate it from their diet.

Dairy is on the list because, like red meat, it increases the level of prostaglandins in the body, which may exacerbate symptoms of endometriosis. Additionally, milk tends to contain various hormones, including estrogen, the female sex hormone. Estrogen, usually higher for women in their childbearing years, is actually responsible for making endometriosis worse by causing endometrial tissue to grow.

If you don’t want to give up milk, you can try raw milk – unpasteurized milk or milk that has not been homogenized.  Don’t know if I would recommend it as it comes with its own risks, but many people have found it completely acceptable and haven’t had any problems. Alternatively, you could try organic milk, it is safer and does not come with the hormones found in regular milk.


Wheat

Endometriosis Diet

Intake of wheat should always be limited

You shouldn’t really be surprised by this one, wheat is always on some list of foods to avoid. Many women are starting to catch on to this and, it’s something you should know about too. Many endometriosis sufferers find that eliminating wheat dramatically improves symptoms.

There was a study that was carried out to test this theory. 207 patients suffering from painful endometriosis symptoms were told to go on a gluten-free diet for 12 months. After 12 months, 156 of the patients  noted a significant change in their symptoms. That’s a lot of people. Something to think about?

Gluten is a protein which gives dough that chewy texture that we love; it can also be found in barley, rye, and oats. Though there is not that much research done on the topic, many experts do believe there is a link between endometriosis and gluten. Quite a few people are actually sensitive to gluten and it is that sensitivity that may result in inflammation, which exacerbates endometriosis symptoms.


Sugar

sugar and endometriosis

Nearly every human being has a sweet tooth, including me. It is especially true for us in the West where our diets are full of sugary products, from desserts to high-sugar drinks, it is found in nearly all of our packaged food products. Everyone should consider cutting sugar out of their diet, again including me, as it is extremely bad for your health.

More and more experts are studying the effects of sugar on our health and have found that it can cause a range of problems, including diabetes and cancer. It should come as no surprise then that sugar is also no good for endometriosis.

The main problem with sugar is that it causes inflammation. Inflammation in the body is extremely bad as it is usually how many serious conditions start out.

In relation to endometriosis, inflammation not only impairs the immune system but is what makes the condition so painful as it causes swelling that stimulates nerve endings. Moreover, it has been suggested that sugar fuels candida – a type of yeast responsible for fungal infections – and some suggest endometriosis is linked to an overgrowth of candida.

As sugar is so addictive, it is probably one of the hardest things to eliminate from your diet. I suggest doing it gradually as this will increase your chances of relapsing. Remember sugar is found in loads of food products, especially processed stuff, so remember to read the label carefully. You don’t have to worry about going without as there are many natural sugar alternatives available.


Soy

endometriosis diet

The great soy debate!

More and more people are choosing soy products; it’s not surprising, considering that it has become a favored alternative for meat and dairy products. Soy has been praised for being packed with fiber and protein as well as its many other health benefits. However, there are conflicting views on whether or not consuming soy products does us, especially women, more harm than good.

The active ingredients in soy are isoflavones. Isoflavones are a class of phytoestrogens, a plant hormone that mimics the estrogen hormone naturally found in our bodies. Phytoestrogens attach themselves to estrogen receptors in the body, which inhibits our own estrogen from doing its job.

If you already have high estrogen levels, it is no bad thing that the phytoestrogens in soy products prevent it from increasing. Especially since high estrogen levels are said to play a role in endometriosis.  However, if you have low levels of estrogen in your body, then phytoestrogens will bind itself to your estrogen receptors and take over, meaning that the estrogenic effect in your body will actually increase, making endometriosis worse.

It is difficult to understand and know what to do here for an endometriosis diet. I guess this is where having a food journal for your endometriosis diet will help you out, you can keep a note of how soy affects you, whether good or bad. Remember, soy is found in more products than you know – it is used to fill out meat burgers, etc – so always check first.


Caffeine

Caffeine can be found in soda and tea too

We are always being told to limit our caffeine intake, but there’s a good reason for it; this should especially be true for people with existing conditions like high blood pressure, acid reflux and endometriosis. The problem with caffeine is that like soy, caffeine is a dietary source of phytoestrogens, which studies have shown can raise the level of estrogen in the body. This is something you want to avoid if you are suffering from an estrogen-sensitive condition like endometriosis.

Caffeine has also been linked to adrenal fatigue. Adrenal glands are two walnut-sized endocrine glands that sit on the top of your kidneys.

The adrenal glands main function is to produce the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that your body use when responding to danger or a stressful situation.

It has been suggested that drinking high levels of caffeine may overwork your adrenal glands, eventually leading to adrenal fatigue. When your adrenal glands are overworked, it creates a hormone imbalance, as your body will use progesterone as a way to produce cortisol, leading way for estrogen dominance.

It will be difficult to eliminate caffeine from your diet as it is an addictive substance, and stopping it all at once can lead to some pretty serious side effects. The best way is to slowly reduce the amount of caffeine you take, until you have eradicated it completely.


Alcohol

Endometriosis Diet

Alcohol is best consumed in moderation

As you know, excessive alcohol consumption is very bad for the liver, which is why it is a major risk factor for liver disease. The liver acts as a filter for the body and one of its jobs is to remove toxins.

It also has the important role of removing excess hormones, like estrogen, from the body. Therefore, drinking an excessive amount of alcohol limits the function of the liver, preventing it from doing its job. This can lead to an excess amount of estrogen in the body as the liver no longer has the full ability to filter it out; this is no good for endometriosis.

Additionally, drinking copious amounts of alcohol has been linked to poor vitamin B12 absorption. A deficiency in vitamin B12 is said to increase the chance of developing abnormal cell growth, like endometrial cells. It is often why women with endometriosis are recommended vitamin B12; it is said to reduce symptoms associated with the condition.


Final Thoughts…

It is not surprising if you feel overwhelmed after about this endometriosis diet and not what to eat, it seems like a lot to give up. You don’t have to give up everything at once, I think it will be near impossible to achieve. Just begin by choosing one thing at a time and assessing the situation.


What do you think?