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    Endometriosis Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid

    Updated 05 March 2020 |
    Published 04 December 2019
    Fact Checked
    Andrei Marhol, PhD
    Reviewed by Andrei Marhol, PhD, Flo lead medical advisor, Lithuania
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    Endometriosis is not a rare condition: according to statistics, 1 in 10 women have it. But it does require care, and diet can be a valuable tool for management of endometriosis. Read on to learn more about the endometriosis diet plan and what to eat and what to avoid with the condition.

    Overview of endometriosis

    Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus instead of inside of the uterus, most commonly on the ovaries and the peritoneal cavity but sometimes on the liver, abdominal wall, and the diaphragm. Endometriosis is present in about 6–10 percent of women in the USA. It’s usually associated with pelvic pain and infertility and may increase the risk of ovarian cancer. On average, about 30–40 percent of women with endometriosis may be subfertile.

    Endo diet: what foods to choose

    Following the below-mentioned diet for endometriosis may help reduce your symptoms:

    Increase the consumption of omega-3 fats

    These are healthy fats with anti-inflammatory effects that are present in fatty fish and various other plant and animal food sources. Omega-3 fats act as the primary ingredient of the body’s pain and inflammation relieving molecules. Since endometriosis causes inflammation and pain, increasing the consumption of omega-3 fats in your diet may help reduce these symptoms. Omega-3 fats may also reduce the risk of developing the condition.

    Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains

    A woman following endometriosis diet

    Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are a rich source of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They also provide a high dose of antioxidants that may help combat inflammation. Making these foods part of an endometriosis diet may help both reduce pain and the overall risk of developing the condition.

    Try a low-FODMAP diet

    This diet may help reduce symptoms associated with endometriosis. The FODMAP diet restricts foods that are fermentable, oligo-, di- and monosaccharides and polyols. The bacteria in the gut ferment FODMAPs, causing gas, which can cause discomfort and pain in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Following low-FODMAP guidelines as your endometriosis diet may help in reducing symptoms of the condition if you have endometriosis along with IBS.

    Try a gluten-free diet

    There is evidence that eating a diet free of gluten may benefit people with endometriosis. In clinical studies, it has been found that people who ate a gluten-free diet as part of their endometriosis diet plan had a significant reduction in their pelvic pain.

    Include soy in your diet

    Though according to some evidence soy may cause a negative influence on endometriosis, certain other studies indicate that it may reduce its risk or severity.

    Include curcumin in your diet

    Making curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, part of your endometriosis diet may reduce the severity of the condition because it suppresses the growth of the endometrial cells. 

    Foods to avoid with endometriosis

    Avoid the following foods to reduce the symptoms of endometriosis:

    Avoid artificial trans fats

    Artificial trans fats, present in certain processed foods such as donuts, fries, pastries, and crackers, increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. According to some evidence, eating foods with a high amount of trans fats increases the risk of occurrence of endometriosis, so it’s best to avoid them as part of an endometriosis diet.

    Reduce the consumption of red meat

    Consuming more than two servings of red meat per day, particularly the processed varieties, has been found to increase the risk of endometriosis in women in certain studies. Eating another source of protein in place of red meat may help improve the inflammation that is one of the characteristics of endometriosis. While making your endometriosis diet plan, make sure to incorporate other sources of protein into your meals.

    Limit alcohol and caffeine

    Some research studies suggest that alcohol and caffeine may increase your risk of endometriosis. Furthermore, high caffeine intake may also increase your levels of estrogen. While the evidence isn’t conclusive, it’s preferable to reduce the intake of both alcohol and caffeine if you have endometriosis.

    Limit your intake of processed foods

    Processed foods contain high amounts of unhealthy sugar and fats and are low in fiber and essential nutrients. They may promote the occurrence of inflammation and pain. Omega-6 fats — present in plant oils including corn, peanut, and cottonseed oil — may increase pain, inflammation, and uterine cramping. On the contrary, omega-3 fats present in walnuts, flax, and fish may help in reducing these symptoms. Removing processed food items such as chips, pastries, candy, fried foods, and crackers from your endo diet may help minimize the pain related to endometriosis.

    What else to try to manage endometriosis

    Apart from an endometriosis treatment diet, the best management approach is to consult your physician and follow a specific treatment plan.

    Physical therapy may help reduce pain and improve the quality of life for people with endometriosis. Doing physical exercise regularly has a protective effect against inflammatory diseases because it increases the levels of anti-inflammatory compounds in the body. Eight weeks of exercise can be very effective for reducing postural abnormalities and pain related to endometriosis.

    The takeaway about endometriosis diets

    Endometriosis has no cure, and medical or surgical treatments are the most beneficial and effective methods to manage the condition. But making certain dietary changes may help manage and reduce the symptoms related to endometriosis for some. A dietitian can help you find the right endometriosis diet plan. A specific plan that is tailored according to your requirements will yield the best results.

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