These days, we understand so much more than we did in the past about how diet affects the body. A good, healthy diet is known to be an essential step towards fighting off any illness. If you suffer from endometriosis, the chances are that eating the right foods will strengthen your body and mind, help you cope better with your symptoms, and give whatever medical treatment you are receiving a better chance of success. Some nutritionists even believe that eating healthily and getting enough exercise can prevent a woman from developing endometriosis in the first place.
So What Should I Eat?
Drugs that are administered to treat endometriosis attempt to reduce the amount of the hormone oestrogen in the body of the patient. This is because oestrogen feeds the growth of endometrial tissue in parts of the body where it is not supposed to be. You should therefore eat foods which help to reduce your oestrogen levels and balance your hormones. Painkillers are often prescribed to reduce the symptoms of inflammation and pain that accompany endometriosis. You can boost the effectiveness of the medication by eating foods which do the same thing. Digestion problems such as diarrhoea and constipation aggravate endometriosis, therefore you should consume the right things to help you regulate your digestive system. Lastly, a lack of the right nutrients and vitamins is thought perhaps to cause endometriosis and exacerbate its symptoms. You need to make sure that you are getting all the nutrition and vitamins your body needs.
Foods which contain natural plant sterols, also known as phytooestrogens, block the body's oestrogen receptors. This can prevent the excess oestrogen found in endometriosis patients from being processed by the body in a harmful way. Phytooestrogen-rich foods include:
Peas, beans, and pulses
Red and purple berries
Nuts and seeds
Celery and carrots
One or two servings per day of the following vegetables are also thought to help reduce the body's oestrogen levels:
Mustard greens, broccoli, cabbage and turnips.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids, such as Omega 3, found in oily fish, shellfish, certain oils (such as flaxseed oils), pumpkin seeds, leafy vegetables, and walnuts, are thought to help regulate the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormones which can either aggravate or soothe cramps in endometriosis sufferers. If you get the fat in your diet from the foods listed above, you will hopefully experience a reduction in painful symptoms. However, if you consume a lot of saturated fats, you could be helping to make your cramps worse. Oily fish include, for example, salmon, mackerel, and fresh tuna.
Foods For Digestion
High-fibre foods help to regulate the digestion system and prevent constipation and diarrhoea, which can make endometriosis even more unpleasant. Nutritionists recommend eating 25 g of high-fibre foods per day. These foods include beans, pulses, peas, fresh vegetables and fruit, oatmeal, rye and wheat.
Wheat consumption is a controversial topic among some nutritionists concerned with endometriosis. Some think that patients who have difficulty digesting the gluten in wheat may find that the gluten damages the walls of their small intestine. This leaves a smaller area through which the body can absorb the nutrients, minerals and vitamins it needs. A lack of vitamins C and E, for example, could worsen the pain of endometriosis because these vitamins help to alleviate swelling and inflammation. A lack of nutrients is even thought to cause endometriosis. Vitamin C can be sourced from citrus fruits. And the mineral calcium can be found in diary products.
What Not To Eat
Just as there are foods which you should actively seek to include in your diet, there are also foods to avoid or reduce. These include:
Any food to which you have an allergy (see a nutritionist if you suspect you may have a food allergy).
Alcohol, caffeine, refined foods and sugar, as well as saturated fats found in butter, other diary products, animal and organ meat. These foods are thought to worsen cramps and inflammation. Indeed, some women find that following a vegetarian or vegan diet alleviates their endometriosis. Having said that, it may be unsafe to avoid such foods altogether, as they contain nutrients and minerals which are also good for the body. Speak to your doctor before cutting any food group out of your diet completely.
There is a variety of herbs and diet supplements available to back up the endometriosis diet. Indeed, if you are making big changes to your diet or you are about to cut out certain food groups altogether, taking a diet supplement may be absolutely essential. You should always discuss any changes to your diet with your doctor, in detail, particularly if you are already receiving medical treatment for your endometriosis.
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