Endometriosis involves painful menstrual cramping. Though the condition is estrogen sensitive, the cramping is primarily due to the synthesis of prostaglandin in the body. Prostaglandins are fatty acids that occur naturally and are taken in through dietary sources. The body can also produce numerous types of prostaglandins through its own complex mechanisms.
Not all prostalglandins are created equal. ”Bad” prostalglandins increase uterine contractions; “good” prostalglandins have an opposite, soothing effect on the uterine. The goal of following an endometriosis diet is to increase levels of “good” prostalglandins and decrease levels of “bad” prostalglandins.
A cornerstone of this diet is to alter the types of dietary fat a woman with endometriosis consumes. Correctly modifying the type of fat consumed can relax the uterine, due to increasing the quantity of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids. The top three recommended dietary fat sources for the endometriosis diet are:
Proponents of this diet suggest decreasing consumption of fatty acids from animal sources, butter and other saturated fats. However, meat from one hundred percent grass fed beef actually has a beneficial ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 and is rich in conjugated linoleic acid, which is powerfully anti-inflammatory and aids in healthy weight loss. Coconut oil, also, improves metabolism and has numerous demonstrated health effects, despite being highly saturated. This is due to its unique composition, primarily being one of medium-chain triglycerides.
A high intake of dietary fiber is suggested. It can aid in digestion and potentially decrease the levels of circulating estrogen.
If grains are consumed, it is advised to avoid wheat, rye, barley and spelt. They contain gluten, which is highly inflammatory for some individuals. Consume brown rice, millet and quinoa instead.
Beans and peas contain a lot of fiber.
Fruits and vegetables contain many nutrients and are rich in fiber.
Oatmeal is a safe grain choice for most people.
Several foods have been shown to possess compounds which actually modulate excess estrogen levels:
- 4.Mustard greens
Following is a list of foods which, according to the originators of this diet, one should reduce or avoid:
- Wheat, barley, rye and spelt. All these grains contain gluten, which can be inflammatory to many people, even those without diagnosed celiac disease. They also contribute to a sluggish metabolism.
- Red meats (see, however, the above note about the beneficial omega fatty acid ratio found in healthy, pastured red meat. Also, boiled meat or meat cooked at lower temperatures is less inflammatory.)
- Concentrated and refined carbs, such as white flour, bread, cookies, brownies and pastries wreak havoc with metabolism and are inflammatory.
- Honey, sugar and other concentrated sweeteners are addictive, immune depressing, cause weight gain and are pro-inflammatory.
- Caffeine can burn out the adrenal glands, increase levels of estrogen and increase abdominal cramping.
- Alcohol can decrease stored levels of B-Vitamins in the liver.
- Dairy products are inflammatory for many people (though some argue that “raw” (unpasteurized and non-homogenized) dairy is healthy.)
- Fried foods, processed and refined fats and margarine all provoke inflammatory prostaglandins.
- Soy products may have an estrogenic effect, in addition to being difficult for many to digest. If soy must be consumed, avoid soy-isolate protein powder, any non-organic soy, use it in small quantities and try to consume fermented soy (such as tempeh and miso).
- Artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and preservatives can cause immune, nerve and inflammation problems.
As this article has outlined, choosing whole foods, avoiding those that cause inflammation, eating clean sources of protein, plenty of fiber and fresh fruits and vegetables can have a positive, anti-inflammatory action, which directly benefits painful uterine cramping. In essence, healthy eating is the basis of a successful endometriosis diet.