Although specific dietary guidelines will be unique to YOU (and should be provided by your doctor, nutritionist, coach etc), there are general rules that apply to all of us. Since my diagnosis with Endometriosis in 2014, I’ve spent every flareup, every cycle, every “setback” and every success taking notes on how to better manage and IMPROVE my condition. Nutrition has been a huge part of that healing process so today we’re looking at ways to improve gut health, minimize inflammation and naturally support balanced hormones through diet.
HOW TO EAT -
While there is no specific “Endometriosis Diet” - there are a few questions you should ask yourself when planning your meals.
#1 - How Nutrient Dense Are My Meals? Ever heard the saying “eat the rainbow?” The variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemical in plants help fight inflammation, free radicals, balance hormones and more. So, incorporate as many different fruits and vegetables into your diet as possible. Nutrient dense smoothies and fresh juices are easy ways to get more plants in. Swapping out white breads and pastas for healthier options like Ezekiel bread and lentil/chickpea pastas will also help you up your micronutrient and fiber intakes.
#2 - Am I Eating Enough Healthy Fats? What’s considered “enough” is of course specific to the individual, however many of us tend to eat in the lower-fat range due to societies “fats make us fat” mindset. What many people don’t realize is that the RIGHT fats can be very healing for your metabolism, your gut, and your hormones! As a general rule - aim to incorporate healthy fats in each meal throughout the day. Hormone healthy fats include coconut, grass fed butter, ghee, raw cacao, olive oil (as dressing) and avocado. If your body digests them well - nuts and seeds can also be great.
#3 - How Is My Gut Health? Not only is over 70% of your immune system is found in the intestinal tract, but estrogen is recycled through the gut and 90% of your serotonin is found there. That means to feel your best, physically and mentally, your gut health has to functioning properly. To optimize gut health - be sure to incorporate as many REAL ingredients as possible AND keep your meals simple. That means you should be able to list what you ate today (all ingredients) without having to look them up. Additionally, your meals should be centered on foods that digest easily for YOUR body, not just what’s trendy. Smoothies and fresh juices, cooked vegetables (as oppose to big salads) and moderate portions are usually easiest on digestion. Also be sure to incorporate plenty of fiber, water and probiotic rich foods.
*It is important to note that food is not the only factor that plays into digestion. See non-food factors that could also be affecting your digestion.
WHAT TO AVOID
Processed Sugar - “Added sugars” are found in processed foods in the form of sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, fructose etc. These sugars spike insulin levels, triggering an inflammatory response in the body. Replace processed sugars (table sugar & artificial sweeteners) with natural sweeteners such as raw honey, dates, natural maple syrup.
Refined Carbohydrates - If it comes in a package, put it down. Refined carbohydrates (carbs that have been stripped of their nutrients) are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, spiking insulin levels and triggering inflammation. Swap out white flour, white bread, white rice, pastries and cereals for plant based carbs such as fruits, vegetables, gluten free oats and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and beans.
Alcohol - Alcohol can increase cortisol levels and again, trigger inflammation. Additionally - with its effect on the liver, it can slow the liver’s very important role in flushing excess hormones.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids - While our body requires a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, excess omega-6 is bad for Endo and over-all inflammation. Swap out vegetable oils such as corn oil, sunflower oil, canola oil etc for healthier oils like coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil.
ENDO RELIEF -
Ginger - Gut Health. Ginger is great for bloating, unsettled stomachs, “backed up” digestion and nausea. Try ginger tea, fresh juices with ginger or my favorite - a potent ginger shot.
Turmeric - Natural Anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is famous for fighting inflammation and is said to be great for circulation as well (think how “slow” we feel during flareups and menstruation). You can cook with it, add to juices/shots or even buy in pill form.
Raw Garlic & Cranberry - Natural Antibiotics. Our immune systems tend to crash during Endo flareups and menstruation. During this time, whatever low-grade infections we are fighting (i.e. yeast infections & UTI’s, which we are prone too with Endometriosis and due to some birth controls) can come back strong. Consistently taking raw garlic (again as a juice/shot or in pill form) and drinking cranberry juice (no sugar added) regularly can help keep your immune system and pH where they should be.
HEALTHY SUPPLEMENTATION -
Dr. Jess’s “Hormone Master” Supplement - If you are seeking something to feel more balanced and energized, the Hormone Master is a great option. This supplement carries a blend of herbs designed to block “bad estrogen.” Read up on it HERE.
Personalized Supplements - Aside from hormone-specific supplements, there are many supplements we can take (if not already getting through food) to FEEL better and aid the healing process. Magnesium for example plays a major role in flushing excess estrogen and it happens to be one of the first things to deplete when we’re stressed. Zinc is important for immune health. Anti-oxidants help fight off inflammation, infection etc. What I need may not be what YOU need, which is why I recommend IDLife. IDLife offers a free health assessment (backed by a team of doctors) that customizes vitamins/supplements to you based on your diet, health conditions, medications etc. After you complete the assessment, a list of supplements will be provided as well as explanations as to WHY they pertain to YOU. I highly recommend! The free health assessment can be taken HERE.
As always - you should consult your doctor first to see what steps work for you.