March is observed as Endometriosis awareness month. Endometriosis is a painful medical condition in which the tissue (endometrium) that should line inside your uterus starts growing outside your uterus. It commonly involves your fallopian tubes, ovaries, and pelvic walls. Some symptoms of the condition include excruciating pain during intercourse, painful periods, heavy bleeding, and infertility. Many women suffer in silence with the painful symptoms but certain foods and some dietary changes can help decrease the symptoms of endometriosis. In this article, Dt. Roopshree Jaiswal, Consultant Dietitian/Nutritionist, Motherhood Hospitals, Mechanic Nagar, Indore shares eight dietary tips that endometriosis patients should adopt to manage symptoms of the condition.
8 tips for eating right to manage endometriosis symptoms
Since endometriosis causes irritation and inflammation in the body, it is recommended that a person avoids foods that cause inflammation. Here are tips on what to eat with endometriosis.
Green vegetables and whole fruits
Leafy vegetables and whole fruits are excellent sources of fibre. They help lower oestrogen levels which are necessary to manage endometriosis symptoms. Eating green vegetables like spinach, kale, and swiss chard helps the body deal with the constant breakdown of circulating estrogens. Fruits are full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that give energy to the body. They’re full of antioxidants which are known to reduce chronic pelvic pain in women who have endometriosis. Moreover, fruits do not contain added sugar which often triggers inflammation in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly good for those dealing with endometriosis as it helps their bodies fight pain and inflammation. It is also scientifically proven that Omega-3 has the ability to reduce the risk of getting endometriosis. People who eat salmon which is extremely rich in Omega-3 are less likely to develop the disease than their counterparts. Mackerel, sardines, anchovies, or oysters are also rich in fatty acids. Flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts can be used as alternatives if you do not like fish. Fish oil supplements are also a good option as it leads to a reduction of endometrial adhesions.
FODMAP elimination diet
FODMAP refers to fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, which are basically carbohydrates that are difficult to absorb. By following the FODMAP elimination diet, a person reduces their intake of potentially irritating foods and allows the gastrointestinal system to heal. This diet includes eliminating foods such as daily, gluten, processed foods, and added sugars. It is recommended to consult a doctor to help plan the FODMAP diet elimination program. You can also keep a log of all the symptoms you face and identify potentially problematic foods.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
It is observed that women with endometriosis consume more alcohol than women without the condition. Similarly, caffeine intake has been associated with an increased risk of endometriosis. Both alcohol and caffeine are also known to increase levels of oestrogen. While there is no link between alcohol and caffeine intake and endometriosis, doctors recommend women suffering from the condition to limit their alcohol and caffeine intakes.
Avoid processed foods
Processed food refers to any food that has been altered or processed in any way during preparation, including freezing and canning. These foods contain high levels of unhealthy fats and sugar and low levels of fiber and nutrients that promote inflammation. Reducing your intake of processed foods will also help you deal with the symptoms of endometriosis.
Reduce omega-6 intake
Corn, cottonseed, and peanut oil consist of Omega-6, increasing pain, uterine cramping, and inflammation. You will minimise endometriosis-related pain by reducing your intake of chips, cake, fried foods, etc.
Endometriosis causes a lot of discomfort and pain. There are treatments available for pain and infertility due to endometriosis, but self-care and dietary changes can also go a long way. By making specific changes in their diet women will be able to find relief. No specific diet works for everyone, so one must try to find the proper diet for themself.
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