Approximately 10% of women suffer from endometriosis at some stage in their lives.  This reproductive disorder, similar to others, can lead to severe distress and lifestyle disadvantages for those suffering from it, especially when one is trying to conceive.  

What is Endometriosis?....

Endometriosis is a female reproductive disease where the tissue, which usually lines the uterus grows outside the uterus.  Normally, we want the endometrial tissue cells to grow, as that means we are producing enough oestrogen for us to get our period, which keeps us fertile, but what we don’t want is this tissue growing outside the uterus.  

This growth leads to extreme pain in the pelvic and abdominal area, bleeding and damage to other organs, such as the bowel and the bladder, frustration and depression.   Some of the symptoms that may present may be similar to those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, such as abdominal pain, discomfort after eating certain foods and bloating.  

Most of all, endometriosis may impact fertility.  That does not mean women with endometriosis cannot fall pregnant, however they may face challenges doing so.

What can we do to help manage this disease naturally?

A clear relationship between diet and endometriosis has not be found, however, various studies have identified that diet may have a role in influencing the steroid hormone levels, such as oestrogen and progesterone.   

  1. Regular exercise is important to help regulate oestrogen levels.  Try to include less strenuous forms of exercise, such as yoga and walking to help balance the hormones.  

  2. Increase intake of good oils, such as omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and dark leafy greens. The increase of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet will assist with the production of helpful prostaglandins, and combats an overproduction from consuming saturated and animal fats. Quick note...Prostaglandins are lipids that are made at the site of infection or damaged tissue.

  3. Get some sleep! Studies suggest that sleep deprivation can result in inflammation, hormonal changes and metabolic imbalance, leading to increased levels of pain.

  4. Make sure you have enough magnesium. Magnesium is a macro-mineral that is needed by the body in significant amounts.  Magnesium allows for chemical reactions to occur in the body through permitting the proper function of enzymes.  Magnesium has been shown to relax smooth muscle in the body.  Dairy-Food, Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D Intake and Endometriosis: A prospective cohort study, findings observed there was a decrease in the risk of endometriosis with an increase of dietary magnesium intake.  Foods containing magnesium: spinach, almonds, black beans, and pumpkin seeds.  Eat these with soluble fibre containing foods and protein for optimal absorption.

  5. Try to avoid pesticides, chemicals and plastic containers.  Some chemicals, such as organochlorines, have been shown to bind to estrogen receptors and mimic hormones which affect the endocrine pathway and alter hormonal function. Try storing your left overs and veggies in glass containers or BPA free containers.  Drink water out of glass or stainless steel bottles.  Make sure you thoroughly wash your fruit and veggies before consuming them to remove the pesticide residue.   Also, try cleaning with natural cleaning products, such as vinegar and baking soda.

  6. Some studies have suggested that frequent intake of red meat and processed meats, such as salami and beef jerky have been associated with endometriosis.  The study showed that the risk of endometriosis increased in the women who consumed at least seven servings of red meat per week and the risk lowered in those women that consumed at least 14 serves of green vegetables and fruit per week.  Eat fruit and veggies!

  7. Get Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that has been linked to healthy immunity and healthy bones.  Studies have shown that women who suffer from endometriosis show signs of changes in their immunity. Vitamin D may suppress the pro-inflammatory processes which occur in those that suffer from endometriosis.

Quick checklist

  • Get out into the sun and go for a walk regularly.

  • Eat good serves of fruit and veggies daily.

  • Eat foods rich in magnesium including dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli), spinach  nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados and banana.

  • Eat foods containing vitamin D, that’s your oily fish (salmon, tuna), egg yolks, dairy alternative milks, and mushrooms (make sure these are eaten with good fats for maximum absorption).

  • Eat less red meat.

  • Avoid processed meats.

  • Eat foods high in fibre including whole grains, potatoes, bran, rolled oats, beans and legumes, and nuts.