When I go to the doctor for any kind of bug or infection, sure, he’ll write a prescription if needed, but nine out of 10 times, I can expect a tidbit of instruction that has to do with my diet. Plenty of fluids for
everything, broth for a cold, cranberry juice for a UTI — these are all perfect examples of how the food you eat is not only fuel, but medicine for your body, as well. Even the most serious chronic disorders have meal plans to soothe symptoms. For example, there are foods that help with endometriosis flare-ups, as well as general nutrition facts for those suffering to keep in mind when figuring out meals for the week.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself here. If you're not familiar with what endometriosis is, exactly, menstrual-tracking app and women's health resource, Clue, defines it as "a common disorder" that affects about
one in every 10 women. According to Clue's website, during endometriosis, endometrial tissue, which normally grows and sheds inside the uterus, forms " on and around organs in the pelvic cavity," and many women won't have symptoms at all, but for those who do, they might experience things like excessive bleeding, cramping, and even infertility.
So where does food come in, you ask? Well, according to
Dr. Jane Frederick, MD, FACOG, the question of whether or not food has a direct impact on endometriosis symptoms is still being debated. However, she tells Elite Daily, research shows that sticking to a diet that's low in fat, and avoiding high-citrus fruits can both have positive effects on estrogen levels and digestion. With that in mind, the following foods are some of the best to stock your fridge with when you're struggling with endometriosis pain.
Is it just me, or are beets one of those foods people either love or hate? Personally, I love the taste of this bright red veggie, and if you struggle with endometriosis, you'll love its iron content.
Iron is important for people with endometriosis because of the amount of bleeding they endure during their periods. Nutritionist and author
Dian Shepperson Mills, MA, director of the Endometriosis and Fertility Clinic in the UK, told Everyday Health that " replacing lost iron is important," so things like beetroot, which is high in no-heme iron (aka iron from plant sources) are great to add into your diet.
One of the worst symptoms of endometriosis is the
cramps that come along with excessive bleeding. Women Fitness reports that an easy way to help soothe that discomfort is by eating plenty of fruits, as they're packed with natural sugars and fiber to make digestion a total breeze, and the more you go, the less stuff is going to be backed up and bring you pain.
Ergo, fruits like fresh berries (think blueberries and raspberries, anything that's in season), and even apples, are easy on the stomach and good for your gut. Add them to smoothies, over oatmeal, or eat them by the handful.
The Center for Endometriosis Care reports the results of a 2013 study from the
IOSR Journal of Nursing and Health Sciences, which found that 75 percent of endometriosis patients "had reduced pain while following a gluten-free diet," most likely due to the fact that wheat products are hard for the body to properly break down and metabolize.
For breakfast, give
gluten-free oats a try, topping the hot cereal with berries, cinnamon, and a drizzle of almond milk for creamy texture.
Pretty much anyone can benefit from adding more veggies into their diet, but for those struggling with endometriosis pain, greens are especially vital to dial down the effects of inflammation.
In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Dr. Frederick explains that vegetables (specifically ones that are very high in fiber, vitamins, and iron) like broccoli, kale, and other leafy goods can help get rid of excess estrogen in the body, as well as
keep your intestinal track healthy.
I know it sounds like a record on repeat, but try to incorporate as many fresh, green foods into your daily menu as you can, whether they're side dishes or the main course. Your body will thank you for it!
Keeping your hormones leveled is crucial when you're struggling with endometriosis, and consuming foods that are rich in omega 3s can help regulate hormone production. Assuming you aren't really interested in consuming oily fish and wild rice all day, consider adding chia seeds into your diet.
Chia seeds (my go-to brand is
Carrington Farms, to point you in the right direction), according to wellness physician Dr. Josh Axe, can "reduce inflammation, relieve joint and muscle pain, and regulate hormone production."
The best thing about chia seeds, IMO, is that they're super versatile. Add them to your favorite smoothie, make a batch of
chia seed pudding for an easy breakfast throughout the week, or even drop a spoonful into your water to sip and chew throughout the day.
The worst thing you can do when thinking about food as medicine, is to
only eat foods you've self-categorized as the healthiest options. Food is fuel, yes, but it's also meant to be enjoyed. That means women suffering from endometriosis can have their treats, and feel good, too.
Enter dark chocolate: nature-made candy that's loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to help
ward off inflammation caused by endometriosis. The richer the taste, the better for you, and if you're looking for recommendations, I'd highly advise snacking on an Alter Eco's Dark Blackout bar, or hoarding Moon Cycle Bakery's delicious chocolate cups sweetened with ginger and honey for dessert.
Dr. Frederick tells Elite Daily that women with endometriosis "should have a diet low in fat" because, on the flip side, she explains, eating a lot of foods that are
high in fat can spike your estrogen levels. The issue with that, according to the Women's Health Network, is that estrogen stimulates cell growth in estrogen receptors, and those struggling with endometriosis have these receptors outside the uterus. So, the more those receptors grow, the more pain and bleeding someone with endometriosis might endure.
Fish is typically high in omega-3 fatty acids and
low in saturated fats, making it a great food to add to your diet. Add oily fish like salmon and herring to your grocery list for sources of lean protein at lunch and dinner that will offer you nutritional benefits sans flare-ups.
Walnuts are high in calories, but they're also swarming with fiber, anti-inflammatory properties, and omega 3s, so consider it a trade-off.
According to NDTV Food,
walnuts are packed with fiber, anti-inflammatory properties, and omega 3s, which are all key for helping with endometriosis pain. A serving of walnuts calls for about one to two nuts per day, which is easy enough to sneak into your diet if you chop 'em into little pieces and sprinkle the bits into your morning oats, or even on top of yogurt for dessert.