Mar 27, 2013

Diet & ENDO

I found this information on an endometriosis support group today and wanted to share, It essentially sums up my diet since January. I have been meat free for 17 years but the big change was giving up wheat, alcohol and dairy. I can't say that I haven't cheated, especially since I just got back from a vacation, but I have been 90% faithful and I can say that I have seen results! I have seen a major difference in the amount of pelvic pain that I experience throughout the month and my period pain has even improved a bit. It hasn't been a big improvement but I can say that I have been able to shorten the amount of time that I needed pain meds on my period. That is something =)  Something that I find interesting is that I experienced some major breakouts about 6 weeks into this new diet. I wonder if there was a shift in hormones from completely cutting out the dairy? I can't fully explain it but it seems to have calmed down now. (which may be because I was just on vacation... no stress) 

My goal was to prepare my body for surgery, which I have finally submitted to. I want to be in the best possible place for healing and hopefully baby making! =) 

I hope someone out there reading this may find this information helpful. If I can ever be of any help to you in your journey with pelvic pain and endometriosis please contact me. 

Foods to avoid in endometriosis

1. Red Meat– Research shows that the consumption of red meat can increase the risk of endometriosis by more than 80% . This is because red meat contains fats that promote inflammation, and inflammation is one of the driving and maintaining factors of endometriosis. Particularly ham is bad in endometriosis because it contains the food additive sodium nitrate which is highly toxic and can interfere with functioning of your reproductive system by causing DNA damage. Good alternatives for red meat include deep sea fish, lean white meat such as turkey, or pulses (vegetable source of protein).

2. Trans fatty acids – Studies show a 48% increased risk on developing endometriosis if you are on a high trans fatty acid diet. Trans fatty acids are found in cakes, biscuits, muffins, pies, crusts, margarine, shortening, cake/pancake mixes, donuts, French fries, chips, candy, frozen dinners and other processed foods. Women with a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (fish, nuts, seeds) on the other hand, are less likely to develop endometriosis. So if you are looking for a snack, a small handful of unroasted, unsalted nuts and seeds is a far better idea than a biscuit, cake etc. I like to put nut butter on a rice cake and top with vegan chocolate chips when I am craving sweets!

3. Gluten – Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Spelt and semolina are also better avoided. These types of grains are commonly used in muesli, cereals, bread, pasta, biscuits, cakes, pies, pizza etc; but also in instant soups and sauces as binding agent. One recent study found that 75% of women with endometriosis who followed a gluten-free diet for at least 12 months, noticed considerable relief in period pain and abdominal pain not related to periods. Alternative grains that are often better tolerated include millet, corn, rice, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, corn and cornmeal, millet, rice, and sorghum. A gluten free diet is challenging, but there are many places that offer gluten free products; and it is worth the effort. I am finally getting used to it but I do miss my sweet potato and cinnamon crackers!

4. Processed foods – All processed foods come with additives, preservatives and chemical flavours which stimulate the production of prostaglandins (a type of hormone or messenger) that trigger inflammation. The negative health effects of additives are too many to list. If you are interested in more detailed information, “The Chemical Maze” by Bill Statham lists them one by one. This book is also available as an app.

5. Sugar – Sugar causes acidity in your body. Acidity causes inflammation, and creates an environment in which bacteria and viruses thrive. Researchers have found bacterial, viral and possibly parasitic infections may be the initial cause of endometrial tissue development with some resistant bacteria remaining active in the female reproductive system indefinitely. Refined sugar is found in many processed foods. If you are looking for a natural sweetener to use instead, try stevia (without any additives), yacun syrup, agave syrup or xylitol. I use honey in and on everything! I personally think it is the healthiest sweetener.

6. Artificial sweeteners – Artificial sweeteners have been linked with increased oestrogen levels, adverse effect on the immune system, increased inflammation and increased testosterone levels. Natural sweeteners are a better choice if you really want to sweeten your food or drink. I get migraines from aspartame and avoid it like the plague!

7. Caffeine – Caffeine is a stimulant and contributes to acidity in your body. It also interferes with liver functioning, and reduces your ability to detoxify and eliminate excessive estrogens. Caffeine also interferes with the production of progesterone, which counteracts the adverse effects of estrogen. Remember caffeine is not only found in coffee, but also in black and green tea, cola, Red Bull, and cocoa. Herbal teas are what I drink all day. Make sure you choose a good quality herbal tea that has a rich smell and in which you can still see the shape and colour of the leaves, flowers and berries used. My favorite coffee alternative is Teechino, it's delicious!!

8. Alcohol – It has been well known for a long time that alcohol consumption increases the risk on endometriosis. Some studies show that the risk on developing endometriosis is 50% higher in those who consume alcohol. The liver is responsible for eliminating excessive levels of estrogen from your body. Consumption of alcohol puts an excessive burden on the liver. Elimination of alcohol from the body becomes paramount and thereby hinders its capacity of eliminating the estrogen from your body and thus contributes to an estrogen dominant environment in which endometriosis can develop and thrive. On top of that, alcohol creates acidity which in its turn can cause inflammation. This was a hard one for me to give up, (I love my red wine) but I think it made the most difference in how I feel! 

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