Facts & Myths About Endometriosis And Diet
When dealing with endometriosis, there is no one size fits all approach to diet.
The evidence available is limited, and it is essential to take an individualized approach because symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.
Aims of Diet and Endometriosis
- Reduce inflammation
- Optimise the microbiome
- Identify any food intolerances
- Reduce IBS – like symptoms
Balancing Good Food and Symptoms
The extent to which you need to adjust your diet depends on the severity of your symptoms, genetic factors and any other existing conditions, history of restrictive eating, or eating disorders. It is crucial to weigh up the risks and benefits when considering dietary changes.
Gluten and Endometriosis
Some studies have shown a potential link between Coeliac disease and endometriosis. Going gluten -free, combined with medical therapy, has been associated with significant improvements in chronic pelvic pain for some individuals with endometriosis.
A low FODMAP diet, which reduces certain poorly absorbed carbohydrates, may be helpful for people with endometriosis due to increased visceral hypersensitivity. This means they are more sensitive to discomfort when digesting fermentable carbohydrates in the colon.
However, it is essential to understand the underlying issues that may cause a reaction to specific foods, such as gut bacteria conditions or intestinal permeability. In such cases, temporary restrictions of certain foods may be necessary while addressing the underlying issues.
Foods to Limit
- Gluten-containing foods (if you have Coeliac disease or non-Coeliac gluten sensitivity)
- Alcohol (limit to 6 or fewer standard drinks per week, not in one sitting)
- Saturated fats (eg. fried foods, baked goods, large amounts of coconut oil)
- Sugar (due to its inflammatory effects)
- Caffeine (consider switching to green tea or dandelion tea)
Foods to Include
- Broccoli and cruciferous vegetables (support liver detoxification of hormones)
- Fibre-rich foods (to reduce IBS-like symptoms and ensure daily bowel clearance)
- Foods rich in polyphenols (colourful fruits and vegetables) for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and gut microbiome supporting effects
- Easily digestible foods such as slow-cooked meats and stews, especially during episodes of pain or fatigue
- Omega-3 rich foods (eg oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocado) for their anti-inflammatory properties
Simple Changes To Reduce Symptoms
- Eat plenty of fibre with two servings of vegetables per meal (1 serve = 1/2 cup cooked or one cup raw)
- Consider supplementing with a high-quality, high dose magnesium
- Ensure regular bowel movements
- Incorporate fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles to support beneficial microbiome species
- Limit alcohol intake to 6 or fewer glasses per week to reduce the load on the liver
- Consider working with a Naturopath to discuss your options and develop an individualized treatment plan.
Remember, finding the right diet for endometriosis may require trial and error, so listen to your body and work closely with your chosen healthcare professional to tailor a plan that suits your specific needs.
Margaret Scott (BHSc Naturopathy)
Margaret is a degree qualified naturopath with a focus on women’s hormonal health throughout the lifespan.
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