Through my own journey in overcoming endometriosis, I discovered the healing power of food as medicine for my body. It was amazing to realize that certain foods contributed to my pain while others would alleviate it, and that ultimately, I had some sense of control over my body.
By selecting the right foods and harnessing their healing benefits, you, too, can discover how to manage your endometriosis better. As an endometriosis expert, I counsel women on the best ways to manage endometriosis, based on my own success. Here are my top three recommended dietary changes:
1. Eat more dark leafy greens.
Dark leafy greens contain an amazing selection of health benefits, including high amounts of folate; fiber; vitamins A, C, K; calcium; and iron. My recommendation is to pack your diet with plenty of kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and mustard greens—you'll be getting a plethora of nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties.
Dark leafy greens can help to alleviate some of the most common symptoms of endometriosis like bloating, pain, hormone imbalances, and digestive struggles.
2. Reduce inflammatory foods.
There are certain foods within the typical Western diet that have been shown to trigger more inflammation and pain for women with endometriosis.
Gluten—found in products made with wheat, rye, and barley—is one such example. My recommendation would be to avoid gluten completely to allow your gut lining to heal, thereby enhancing nutrient absorption and reducing inflammation. You can replace many gluten-derived products with substitutes like quinoa, buckwheat, and millet. I recommend picking organic alternatives to avoid dioxin, a pesticide that has been linked to endometriosis.
The other key food to avoid: sugar. Sugar triggers hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which can contribute to elevated estrogen and uterine cramps and have been associated with the pain experienced with endometriosis. If we avoid sugar, we help avoid prostaglandin release and reduce pain and inflammation. Stick with freshly made foods and choose fewer packaged foods. A wonderful way to curb sugar cravings is to drink a warm chai tea or use sweet fruits or dates as a replacement.
Other foods that have been shown to be inflammatory with endometriosis include dairy, saturated fat, salt, and caffeine.
To reduce inflammation with endometriosis, it's also recommended to include foods rich in magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, glutathione, and vitamin C. Reach for fresh wild fish, fruit, loads of vegetables, and treats that contain real cocoa.
3. Improve your gut flora.
Endometriosis has been recognized as an auto-immune condition by the Endometriosis Association of America and through a number of studies. Since over 70 percent of our immune system resides in our intestinal tract, it's super important to focus on getting plenty of healthy, happy gut flora.
One of the best ways to do that is to include fermented foods in your diet. There are plenty to explore, including sauerkraut, ginger beers, and homemade yogurt with coconut milk.
The key is to support your gut flora with plenty of fiber and gut-happy nutrients and reduce the painkillers and hormone treatments that kill off good gut flora.
Bottom line: Everything you eat will have an effect on how you feel. We can reclaim some of our power by deciding to nourish our bodies with foods that truly support our needs with every mouthful.