Healthy Food

NUTRITION FOR ENDOMETIOSIS

 

Dietary and lifestyle changes may help to improve endometriosis symptoms and some people find that eating certain foods tend to trigger or relieve their symptoms.

 

The experience of endometriosis symptoms is different for each person, as well as each person being unique in their food preferences, lifestyle, medical history and treatment and therefore there is no universal diet for endometriosis.

 

However, a person with endometriosis might consider reducing foods that either causes inflammation or raises oestrogen levels, both of which may contribute to endometriosis or its symptoms. However, more research is needed to establish the link between endometriosis and diet.

Check out our Nutrition for Endometriosis factsheet here and our Vitamins and Minerals for Endometriosis factsheet here.

 

Food Diaries

The best way to determine which dietary changes may help you is to keep a food and symptom journal, recording everything that you eat throughout the day as well as any symptoms you experience. A clear pattern may not emerge right away so it’s best to keep a food journal for 4-6 weeks.

You may find from your food diary that some of your symptoms may be triggered by certain foods and eliminating these from your daily food intake may be helpful in reducing your symptoms of endometriosis.

 

After eliminating foods for a month it may be possible to slowly re-introduce specific foods to see how your body tolerates them. Elimination of foods can be difficult for some people, because it involves avoiding a high number of food types, including:

  • dairy

  • gluten

  • processed foods

  • added sugars

 

It is recommended to continue your food diary to monitor your symptoms after removing certain foods to determine if your symptoms improve, stay the same or worsen after reintroducing something.

Food that may positively affect endometriosis

To fight inflammation and pain caused by endometriosis, consume a nutrient-dense, well-balanced diet that’s primarily plant-based and full of vitamins and minerals. Ensure that the following foods are in your diet:

  • fibrous foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains

  • iron-rich foods, such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, beans, fortified grains, nuts, and seeds

  • foods rich in essential fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, herring, trout, walnuts, chia, and flax seeds

  • antioxidant-rich foods found in colourful fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, berries, dark chocolate, spinach, and beets – aim for a rainbow of colours

Plant-based proteins, lean meats, and healthful fats may also help. Healthful fats are available in many foods, including:

  • salmon

  • other fatty fish

  • tree nuts such as walnuts and almonds (note not peanuts as these are legumes)

  • avocado

  • olive oil

  • olives

Foods that may negatively affect endometriosis

Foods that can influence hormone regulation, particularly estrogen balance, can negatively affect those with endometriosis. In addition, some foods may promote inflammation in the body leading to further pain or progression of endometriosis. These foods include:

  • alcohol

  • caffeine

  • gluten

  • processed / manufactured foods which may contain inflammatory omega-6 and artificial preservatives and flavourings

  • saturated and trans fat

Gluten-Free

Gluten is a protein found primarily in the grains; wheat, barley, rye, and oats and is also found in beer, bottled condiments, sausages and is present as a thickening in many shop-bought sauces.

 

Many people have reported some type of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity with symptoms such as flatulence, bloating, and disturbed bowel function, similar to some of the endometriosis bowel symptoms.

 

Gluten is not an essential nutrient so if you remove gluten from your diet and you feel better for it and have reduced symptoms then this is a good outcome.

Preparation is crucial for success with being gluten-free. Planning out each meal, as well as shopping and preparing it ahead of time, can make it much easier to stay on track.

FODMAP

FODMAP aims to allow the gastrointestinal system to heal by eliminating certain carbohydrates which are potentially irritating. FODMAP is a short-term dietary modification rather than a long-term lifestyle change.  

 

A doctor or dietitian can help plan the FODMAP elimination program. They can help to track symptoms and identify potentially problematic foods. They can also make sure that it is appropriate for specific medical or health situations.

Preparation is crucial for success with FODMAP. Planning out each meal, as well as shopping and preparing it ahead of time, can make it much easier to stay on track.