Let’s jump into it!
Endometriosis is more common than many realize, with about 1 in 10 women affected, and its prevalence is only increasing. This post dives deep into everything about Endometriosis, including what it is, why and how it presents, and perhaps most importantly, how you can utilize diet and lifestyle practices to aid in symptom management.
WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the tissue in the uterus grows outside of the uterus. Typically, this tissue growth occurs in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or tissue lining the pelvis. Those who have Endometriosis can experience extreme discomfort and pain during menstrual periods, given that this excess misplaced growth of tissue acts similarly to that of the uterus and will bleed during this time resulting in the blood becoming trapped in the body.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Commonly recognized symptoms of Endometriosis are localized to the pelvic area, specifically during menstruation. However, given Endometriosis stems from a hormonal imbalance, symptoms are often systemic.
Signs and Symptoms of Endometriosis:
- Abdominal, pelvic, and lower back pain during menstruation
- Heavy bleeding during menstruation
- Irregular bleeding/spotting in between cycles
- Pain with sexual intercourse
- Pain with bowel movements or urination
- Chronic Fatigue
- Chronic bloating
- Mood Imbalances (Irritability, Anxiety, Depression)
Note that the severity of symptoms depends on the severity of Endometriosis and hormonal imbalance where some people may experience relatively minor symptoms while others feel like their symptoms get in the way of performing everyday activities – in either case reaching out to a health professional is highly recommended.
The reason for the development of Endometriosis is a bit unclear. However, we do know there is a genetic component. Additionally, we understand that Endometriosis stems from hormonal imbalances and inflammation. Hormonal imbalances and chronic inflammation are often a result of diet, lifestyle, environmental toxins, birth control, and more. Therefore, our focus when working with Endometriosis is to deep dive into one’s diet, lifestyle, and environment for effective symptom management.
DIET AND ENDOMETRIOSIS
While there is no recognized cure for Endometriosis, diet can be pivotal in decreasing symptoms, balancing hormones, and decreasing inflammation. When combined with specific supplements, and lifestyle changes, it may even result in the remission of Endometriosis.
To balance hormones and decrease inflammation, we like to focus on foods rich in healthy fat (hello omega 3’s), fiber, high-quality protein, and vitamins and minerals. In contrast, we suggest limiting dairy, gluten, inflammatory oils (canola, vegetable, safflower, rapeseed, etc.), added sugar, corn, and any other food sensitivities/allergies as they often contribute to inflammation.
Foods to focus on with Endometriosis:
- Cruciferous Veggies (broccoli, arugula, cauliflower, Brussels, bok choy) – Aids in detoxification which helps balance hormones
- Chia and Flax Seeds – Rich in omega 3’s which work to reduce inflammation and are also full of fiber aiding in motility (key for hormone balance – especially estrogen)
- Dark Leafy Greens: Contains folate, fiber, Vitamins A, C, K, calcium, potassium, and iron which all help to reduce bloating, pain, hormonal imbalances, and digestive distress
- Wild-Caught Salmon – Good source Vitamin D and Omega 3’s both of which decrease inflammation
- Root vegetables (beets, carrots, sweet potato, turnips, squash) – You need carbohydrates to balance hormones, but the key here is also maintaining blood sugar balance which root vegetables are great at considering their fiber content!
- High-quality protein – Wild-caught fish, pasture-raised eggs, organic chicken, and turkey (hint: try and limit processed meats and nitrites)
- Beans and legumes for fiber?
- Berries – Rich in resveratrol, which is anti-inflammatory and a good source of fiber
- Healthy Fats – (avocado/oil, Extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, wild-caught fish) – Great source of omega 3’s
- Turmeric and ginger – Whether you get this in food or supplement form, they are great at decreasing inflammation
OUR FAVORITE SUPPLEMENTS FOR HORMONE BALANCE
While food is the primary tool to aid in balancing hormones and reducing inflammation, supplements/herbs can be a great addition. The supplements/herbs we recommend will often vary on a case-by-case basis depending on the specific hormone imbalances determined by a hormone test.
Supplements to help balance hormones:
- Vitex Angus (Chasteberry)
- Black cohosh
- Dandelion root
- DIM (diindolylmethane)
- Magnesium and B vitamins
- Evening Primrose Oil
Supplements to help reduce inflammation:
- Turmeric (curcumin active ingredient)
- Omega 3’s
- Vitamin C and D3
- Pre and probiotics – If the gut is not happy, neither will the rest of your body; supporting the gut will help decrease inflammation
We recommend working with a health professional like us to determine the right supplements and dosages for you!
LIFESTYLE TIPS TO HELP MANAGE ENDOMETRIOSIS
It may be no surprise that lifestyle impacts both hormone balance and levels of inflammation. So the best thing we can do is reduce stress on our bodies! Stress comes in many different forms: physical stress, mental stress, or stress brought on by exposure to environmental toxins.
Our top lifestyle tips to help manage Endometriosis:
- Make quality sleep a priority
- Engage in stress-management techniques daily (yoga, mediation, walking in nature, etc.)
- Swap out toxic household products for non-toxic alternatives
- Get outside in nature as much as possible (bonus if it involves moving your body in a way that feels good)
- Listen to your body! Our needs change every day, so listen and respect what your body is telling you (this is especially true if you are in pain and need to slow down as a result)!
- Engage in light exercise – Now is not the time to push your body to its maximum. Instead, engage in lighter movement like yoga, pilates, and walking!
- Try acupuncture – Some people with Endometriosis feel a significant reduction in symptoms!
- Try Epsom salt baths – Rich source of magnesium that helps relax and soothe muscle and eases cramping
- Support detoxification and drainage pathways – think hydration, dry brushing, lymphatic massage, sauna, and movement
The Bottom Line
While the exact cause of endometriosis is unknown, it is characterized by hormonal imbalances and inflammation, which goes hand in hand with our decreasing diet quality and increasing stress levels. Therefore making a conscious effort to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, prioritize stress management, and clean up your environment is essential in managing Endometriosis.