4 diet tips to help you fight endometriosis

4 diet tips to help you fight endometriosis

Endometriosis is a challenging condition to deal with. Chronic pain has a physical and emotional toll on your well-being.

One in 10 women are affected by endometriosis and many do not have a diagnosis for 7-12 years, as endometriosis’ symptoms are similar to other gynecological conditions. Many women with endometriosis remain undiagnosed.

Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to help with the pain of endometriosis and improve your quality of life. Simple changes in you diet can make you feel better.

Eating the right foods may provide some protection against endometriosis. The role of diet in endometriosis has been investigated in recent years due to the influence of diet on some of the processes linked to the disease, such as inflammation, prostaglandin metabolism, and estrogen activity.

Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less red meat

Add more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Stocking your refrigerator with pre-washed and cut fruit and vegetables can help you eat more of both.

Cut down red meat. Research has shown a link between endometriosis and diets that are low in fruits and vegetables and high in red meat.

Some experts think the high amount of fat in meat like beef encourages your body to produce chemicals called prostaglandins, which may lead to more estrogen production. This extra estrogen could be what causes excess endometrial tissue to grow.

A higher intake of fresh fruit and green vegetables reduced the relative risk of endometriosis by 40 percent, while a high consumption of beef, other red meat, and ham increased relative risk by around 80 to 100 percent.

Boost omega-3 fatty acids intake

Eat more foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, mackerel, flaxseeds

and walnuts. A study showed that women who ate the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids were 22% less likely to develop endometriosis compared to women who ate the least amount.

Reduce trans fats

Eat less trans fats. Research has shown that women who ate the most trans fats had a 48% higher risk of developing endometriosis than those who ate the least, so the type of fat you eat matters.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Drinking caffeinated coffee and soda seems to increase your chances of developing endometriosis, although researchers aren’t sure why. If you find that caffeine worsens your symptoms, switch to decaf.

Women who drink a lot of alcohol may be more likely to get endometriosis. Drinking might also make your symptoms worse. Alcohol raises estrogen levels, which could lead to more painful symptoms.

Diet rich in phytoestrogens may reduce risk of endometriosis

Diet rich in phytoestrogens may reduce risk of endometriosis

Higher consumption of phytoestrogens (plant-derived estrogens found in soy and other foods that are similar to the female hormone estrogen) is associated with a reduced risk of endometriosis, an Iranian case-control study suggests.

Phytoestrogens are naturally-occurring plant compounds that share a similar chemical structure and function to the estrogens found in the human body.

Foods rich in phytoestrogens include soy, fruits, vegetables, spinach, sprouts, beans, cabbages, and grains.

The effect of diet on hormonal activity, inflammatory markers, and the immune system means that the food choices women make might play a key role in the development of endometriosis. Further, endometriosis has been shown to be related to prolonged exposure to the hormone estrogen in the absence of progesterone.

The main classes of phytoestrogens include isoflavones, coumestans, lignans, and flavonoids. Isoflavones, produced almost exclusively by the members of the bean family, are found in soy. Coumestans may have anticancer effects, while lignans have antitumor and antioxidant effects in mammals. Flavonoids, which also have antioxidant effects, are plant pigments that help give fruits and vegetables their color.

In women with endometriosis, phytoestrogens have an anti-estrogenic effect, meaning they can counter the activity of estrogen. Lignan and isoflavones can be converted in the gut into hormone-like structures.

By binding to estrogen receptors, phytoestrogens can stimulate the production of sex hormone-binding globulin, reducing the ability of the natural free estrogen to interact with estrogen receptors. Further, phytoestrogens can reduce inflammation through many mechanisms, including decreasing the production of inflammatory molecules.

In this study, the researchers assessed the link between phytoestrogen intake and endometriosis risk. The team studied 78 women with endometriosis and 78 with a normal pelvis, all infertile, recruited at the Arash Hospital, in Tehran, Iran. The two groups were matched for multiple parameters, including age, body mass index (BMI), education, marital status, occupation, and income.

The participants’ diets were recorded using a 147-item validated food frequency questionnaire, between May 2016 and February 2017. The type of phytoestrogen in each dietary item was then analyzed using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The results showed that a higher intake of phytoestrogens was associated with a reduced risk of endometriosis. A greater intake of total isoflavones (specifically the sub-groups formononetin and glycitein) was associated with a decreased endometriosis risk, as was an increased intake of coumestrol. Similar results were found with a higher intake of lignan, specifically the sub-groups secoisolariciresinol, lariciresinol, and matairesinol.

Among food groups, only isoflavin, lignan, coumestrol, and phytoestrogen in dairy products, and coumestral in fruits were related to a reduced endometriosis risk.

“The phytoestrogen content in diet is dependent on environmental and genetic factors for example variety, harvest, food processing, cooking and growth locations,” the researchers noted. “Up to now, Iranian dietary phytoestrogen has not been measured.”

The researchers said that the results, overall, suggest that the impact of phytoestrogens on the level of hormones, and immune and inflammatory markers, is likely to “play an important role in the control and prevention of many diseases.”

“Due to the inflammatory nature of endometriosis and the effect of hormones on the progression of the disease, the role of phytoestrogens consumption in the progression and regression of the disease should be assessed in future works,” they concluded.

The study was published in the International Journal of Fertility & Sterility.

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