Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition in which tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other parts of the body such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and bowel. This tissue acts like uterine tissue and sheds during menstruation but cannot be excreted by the body. This results in pain, scar tissue and adhesion formation. Heavy, painful periods are a hallmark symptom of endometriosis alongside severe abdominal pain, endometrial cysts, bloating, painful intercourse, and infertility.
Endometrioses is actually a very common condition and is estimated to affect 1 in 10 women. Unfortunately, diagnosis can be tricky and may take years.
It’s not entirely clear what causes endometriosis, but it’s thought to be multifactorial in nature with its roots in many different things such as genetics and environmental exposures. Currently there is no cure for endometriosis. Treatments commonly offered include hormonal contraception, and surgery. Endometriosis is a condition which can respond really well to lifestyle and dietary alterations as an addition to its management.
Include Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Inflammation is a key driving factor in endometriosis. Increasing anti-inflammatory foods and reducing pro-inflammatory foods is therefore key in its management. This involves including healthy fats such as oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil while reducing saturated fats such from highly processed foods. Red meat can be high in saturated fats; however, it is also high in iron. Iron is needed to prevent anaemia caused by heavy periods in women with endometriosis. Choose red meat with a low percentage of fat, such as 5% mince to optimise iron intake and reduce saturated fat intake.
Go Gluten Free?
Sensitivity to gluten has been reported in non-coeliac patients with endometriosis. A study examining the effects of a gluten free diet on pelvic pain in 207 women with endometriosis reported significant improvements in pain in 75% of participants after 12 months, along with improved quality of life. Many gluten free products may still be highly processed and low in nutritional value, so minimising heavily processed gluten free alternatives is also advised.
Fibre is Your Friend
Endometriosis is driven by excess oestrogen. Diets high in fibre increase oestrogen excretion. Aim for high fibre foods such as oats, vegetables, fruit and brown versions of rice, pasta and b