Read Part 1 in this series here – The Symptoms and Causes of Endometriosis
Read Part 2 in the series here – The Immune and Digestive Systems with Endometriosis
This final part in the Endometriosis series discusses how to manage endometriosis through diet and lifestyle modifications, primarily by reducing inflammation and inflammatory processes. This enables the gut to start healing and our body systems to function more efficiently. Bearing in mind that here is no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to diet and lifestyle, and what works for one individual may not work for another. For this reason it is best to work with a professional trained in nutritional medicine who can provide a tailored approach.
Treating endometriosis as an inflammatory disease . Reducing inflammation will:
- Reduce production of local oestrogens
- Reduce immune system dysregulation
- Promote healthy digestive and excretory function
- Support liver for clearance of (xeno)oestrogens and dioxins (environmental toxicants)
- Regulate blood sugar levels
Consume Anti-inflammatory Foods:
- Bitter green veggies (kale, sorrel, radicchio, etc), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, etc), liver supporting vegetables (beetroot, carrots, onions, garlic, etc), leafy greens (spinach, silver beet, lettuces of different types) and vegetables in general. Increasing vegetable consumption will promote digestion, help liver function and reduce inflammation (5-10 cups per day)
- Include broccoli sprouts (approx. 3 heaped tbs) each day to help liver function and reduce production of inflammatory oestrogens
- Oily, small fish consumption (2-3 serves per week) for anti-inflammatory properties, ie sardines, mackerel, herring, trout. Wild caught is preferable
- Use good fats such as olive oil, avocado (fruit and oil) rather than highly processed and inflammatory vegetable and seed oils
- Anti-inflammatory and liver supporting herbs and spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, parsley, coriander – add to each meal
- 7-10 cups of vegetables per day (to crowd out excess consumption of meat, grains, processed foods, etc, increase consumption of antioxidants and aid oestrogen and toxicant clearance)
- Maximum 2 pieces of fruit per day – focus on veg rather than fruits to keep sugar consumption to a moderate level, although fruit does also contain beneficial fibre, polyphenols, etc
Avoid Pro-inflammatory Foods:
- Reduce / cut out dairy, often pro inflammatory. Factory farmed products are a source of agricultural chemicals (“dioxins”), which is associated with a higher prevalence of endometriosis
- Cut out processed foods, added sugar, trans fats, excessive animal fats – due to inflammatory properties
- Reduce consumption of factory farmed meats (rather than grass fed and finished) due to the presence of agricultural chemicals
- Keep nuts and seeds to a maximum of 1 handful per day (20 almonds, eg) to minimise pro-inflammatory omega 6
- Avoid alcohol and minimise caffeine (less than 2 cups coffee per day) – both are associated with increased risk of endometriosis and associated infertility
- Avoid legumes due to the lectins they contain, which increase intestinal permeability thus promoting autoimmunity and immune dysregulation
- Cut out gluten containing foods and grains due to inflammatory, gut damaging properties
- Cut out grains due to negative effect on blood sugar regulation
- Replace all the above with extra servings of anti-inflammatory, fresh veggies!
Supplements to consider with your practitioner (you may need to take none, or some):
Before going out and buying any of the following, please do so under the guidance of a trained naturopath or nutritionist. They will be able to direct you specifically on what, if any, will help your case, as well as having access to the best quality (more bang for your buck) supplements.
- Omega 3s – reduce pain and inflammation – 600mg EPA and 300mg DHA
- Vitamin E – reduces adhesion and inflammation – (take under supervision, not pre- or post-op)
- Curcumin – reduces inflammation, suppresses local oestrogen production, reduces size and activity of lesions – 1 high dose cap with food (fat and black pepper for absorption)
- Probiotics – lactobacilli to reduce inflammatory gram negative bacteria
- Vit B complex – support liver function
- Zinc – immune function and healing
- Selenium – fatty acid metabolism
- Magnesium and calcium – hormone metabolism and inflammation modulation
Lifestyle and Complementary Therapy Adjuncts:
- Exercise – 5 hrs / week associated with 50% reduction in risk of recurrence of endometriosis
- Acupuncture – to help manage symptoms, regulate hormones, liver support, encourage blood flow
- Reduce exposure to exogenous toxins / xenoestrogens where possible, ie cleaning products, self care products, pesticides on foods, etc
- Reduce stress – induces hormone dysregulation
- Get enough sleep to wake up refreshed – for hormone regulation
- Medicinal herbs (via a herbal practitioner) – for hormone regulation, liver support, immune modulation, and pain management
- Heavy metal chelation guided by an experienced professional if indicated – heavy metals overload the liver and impair oestrogen clearance, they also increase systemic inflammation and adversely effects on hormones
- Mayan massage – a type of abdominal massage that I’ve heard good reports on. I’m trying it myself soon so will post an update
I haven’t mentioned medical interventions, such as laparoscopies, here as I’m not a medical professional. However, I did have a laparoscopy and lesion removal myself in 2013 around the same time that I started the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) and have, so far, had no recurrence of symptoms.
If you’d like to work with me to manage your endometriosis symptoms please email me at email@example.com. We can also schedule in a free chat on the phone beforehand, to discuss how we can work together.
Please ensure you let your naturopath / nutritionist know of any medications you are on or treatment you are receiving. This will need to be taken into account when formulating your personal diet and lifestyle plan. Please also advise your GP / specialist if you are also under the care of a naturopath or nutritionist and what supplements you may be taking.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and this information does not take the place of individualised advice from a GP or other medical professional.