The Best Diet & Supplements for EndometriosisJan 20, 2020
Diet is the most important natural approach for managing endometriosis.
Because we don't know for sure what causes endometriosis, we do know that inflammation, estrogen and poor gut health can all provoke it and make your symptoms worse - and all of these are affected by what you eat!
This means if you want to truly reduce your symptoms, you have to know the best diet and supplements for endometriosis.
In this article
We’ll cover the best diet recommendations for women suffering from endometriosis including which foods to avoid and which foods to eat more of.
Then we’ll look at the specific supplements you can consider using to calm down your immune system, support your gut and reduce your symptoms.
Of course, these are general recommendations based on the research. Endometriosis is a complex condition and each woman will experience it differently!
Working one on one with a professional to get personalised recommendation is the fastest way to get results. However, the suggestions below will make a really big difference if you aren’t able to do that.
Why your diet matters so much
Gut health plays a big role in the progression of endometriosis due to the following:
- Inflammatory diets
- Leaky gut
- The link between our gut and immune system.
And if the “bacterial contamination hypothesis” that I discuss in this article is in fact what causes endometriosis, then having a healthy gastrointestinal tract is critical.
Before we move onto the diet recommendations, I want you to know that what you have eaten in the past or what you eat now didn’t cause your endometriosis.
This isn’t considered a ‘lifestyle disease’ and it’s not your fault you have it.
However, diet is a great way that you can start to take back your control around this condition.
Because although the food didn’t cause it, it absolutely will make it worse if you’re eating foods that cause inflammation, intestinal permeability (leak gut) and/or hormone imbalances.
Foods to avoid if you have endometriosis
Before you read the list, know that your body might not react to all of the foods listed here. You’ll need to experiment and pay close attention to your symptoms.
There is a similarity in the DNA variations seen in both endometriosis and celiac disease. For this reason, Reproductive immunologist Dr. Jeffrey Braverman recommends removing gluten.
The other problem with gluten is that it causes a leaky gut, due to the way it's digested. And this is true for everyone, not just celiacs.
The A1 casein protein found in cows dairy is structurally very similar to gluten proteins. This means some women have cross-reactivity in the body.
The other problem with cows dairy is that when it's digested, some women form an inflammatory opiate called casomorphin.
This causes inflammation and disrupts the immune system which provokes endometriosis.
Refined sugar is highly inflammatory, contains no nutritional value and contributes to bacterial imbalance in the gut.
Eggs can be a highly nutritious food but they are also one of the most reactive foods in the western diet.
If your body reacts poorly to eggs, this is going to increase inflammation and contribute to poor gut health so it’s important to figure out if they are a problem for you or not.
In her book Period Repair Manual, Dr Briden estimates that eggs are a problem for 1 in 3 clients, so it's worth taking them out to see for yourself.
A 2017 study concluded that a low FODMAP diet was beneficial for women with both endometriosis and IBS. The study showed that results can be seen in as little as 4 weeks.
However, I don’t advise following a low FODMAP diet long term as because as I mention below, fibre is really important and should never be eliminated long term.
If you find relief with a low FODMAP diet, you'll need to look into small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Pelvic pain is found to be higher in women who regularly eat soy.
Further to that, women who were regularly fed soy formula as infants have an increased risk of endometriosis.
High histamine foods
This matters because histamine stimulates your ovaries to make more estrogen. And high estrogen increases histamine production.
So there is a vicious cycle of histamine → estrogen → histamine → estrogen.
This website lists food that is high and low in histamines.
For many reasons I strongly suggest you ditch the vino.
Firstly, drinking alcohol will increase your estrogen levels. And as you know, endometriosis is an estrogen-mediated condition. So the more alcohol you drink, the worse your endo will get.
Secondly, alcohol is highly inflammatory and endometriosis is a systemic inflammatory condition. So drinking something that is known to cause inflammation is not a good idea!
Foods that help reduce endometriosis symptoms
I explained here how prostaglandins are what cause period pain and how not having enough dietary Omega 3’s can make period pain worse.
Unfortunately, women with endometriosis often produce an excess of the prostaglandin PGE2, which causes inflammation, pain and uterine contractions.
To reduce PGE2 and reduce pain, including fatty fish like wild salmon, sardine and mackerel at least 3 times per week.
Vegetables are so great for your health! They lower inflammation, boost immunity, enhance detoxification and improve your gut health.
Women with endometriosis should eat a wide variety of different types and colours, including leafy greens, root, cruciferous and brightly coloured vegetables. The more variety the better!
Gelatin is a wonderful way to help heal the lining of your gut & lower inflammation.
You can also try collagen, which is a hydrolysed version that mixes easily into liquids. But, don't use bone broth without testing your histamine tolerance first!
If you increase your vegetable intake as I mentioned above, this will really help with fiber but you can also add some chia seeds or freshly ground flax seeds to up your intake.
Fiber is fantastic for both gut health and removing excess estrogen from your body.
The best supplements for Endometriosis
The purpose of the supplements below is to reduce inflammation and help normalise the functions of your immune system.
It's really important that you follow the dietary advice above as well.
Turmeric for endometriosis
Turmeric is a very well researched anti-inflammatory. It can also help prevent the growth of endometrial cells by reducing the production of estrogen.
One of the best-studied polyphenols in turmeric is called curcumin and the research shows that it not only reduces inflammation but it also increases the levels of antioxidants in the body.
Unfortunately, the bioavailability of curcumin is low so it’s often combined with piperine to make it more available for the body to use.
The downfall of this is that piperine greatly increases intestinal permeability, so I don’t recommend this kind of supplement for women with endometriosis.
The other way to increase bioavailability is to combine curcumin with lipids. The two options are:
- BCM-95®, a patented combination of curcumin and essential oils. At the time of writing this article, Ethical Nutrients Curcumin Plus was using this form of curcumin (always read the ingredients label)
- Meriva®, a patented combination of curcumin and soy lecithin. Purchase online here or here.
Omega 3 fatty acids
As mentioned above when I discussed fatty fish, omega 3’s are a really powerful way to reduce inflammation and the pain associated with menstrual cycles.
You can find my specific recommendations here.
An imbalanced gut microbiome is strongly related to bacterial imbalance in the vaginal canal, which is one suspected cause of endometriosis.
Taking a probiotic is a great way to start rebalancing the bacteria in your gut.
But it’s also extremely important that you are eating the right foods so that these beneficial bacteria can thrive once they're in your gut.
Zinc is great for immune modulation, lowering inflammation and nourishing the ovaries (which means better ovulation and more progesterone to counteract estrogen!).
It’s also been proposed that zinc deficiency plays a role in the development of endometriosis.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)
Research shows that NAC is a very promising supplement for endometriosis, including for those women who are trying to conceive.
The researchers of this study concluded that NAC offers better results for endometriosis than hormonal treatments–without the side effects!
Every woman is different
It's important to point out that there isn't one single diet that will work for everyone.
You'll need to work with your body to identify exactly what does and doesn’t work for you. And that will take some time, but it will be so very worth it!
If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed and would like some personal guidance, click here.
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