This past weekend I had the honor to attend a “Let’s Talk Endometriosis” Workshop held in honor of Endometriosis Awareness Month. I heard the stories of some unbelievably strong women, and their significant others, who live with endometriosis and pelvic pain every day.
Endometriosis is a disease that affects 1 in 10 women. It can have a full range of symptoms from no symptoms to debilitating and horrifically painful symptoms. It wasn’t until 4 years ago, when my daughter was diagnosed with endometriosis, that I started to understand the depth and severity of this illness and just how many women it impacted. Unfortunately this is a disease that has gone largely ignored by the medical community and thus takes an average 10 years to diagnose. It has taken my daughter years to put together an amazing group of compassionate and dedicated doctors and practitioners and now she finally has light at the end of the tunnel. It is, however, still going to be long road to wellness.
One thing that we have worked on is diet. In the beginning she actually had doctors tell her not to go on any special diet, that diet made no difference. This we, and so many others, know is not the case! Through much research combined with food elimination protocols and optimizing dietary intake and balance, we have continued to modify her diet and find what works for her. She will continue to be on her Plate Journey as she navigates through her journey to wellness. Everyone with this disease may have a specific diet protocol that works for them but I wanted to share some of the foods that most commonly impact the symptoms of endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a disease of inflammation. Thus embarking on an anti-inflammatory diet is key. 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats should be the focus. I would encourage any woman with the diagnosis of endometriosis to work with a nutritionist and do an elimination diet. An elimination diet is one where a group of “suspect” foods are eliminated from the diet for a period of time – anywhere from 4 to 8+ weeks – to see if the elimination of these foods has an impact on symptoms. At the end of this elimination protocol, foods are very slowly reintroduced to identify the specific foods that induce symptoms and identify any underlying food sensitivities.
The first two foods I would encourage everyone with this disease to look at are dairy and gluten. Dairy contains hormones. Even organic dairy contains the cow’s natural hormones, including estrogen. Dairy can be inflammatory and have a profound impact on any condition that involves estrogen. Significantly reduce it or avoid it and always, always buy organic to avoid any added hormones. Gluten can also be highly inflammatory especially in the presence of an inflammatory condition. I have women with estrogen-related diseases find a significant amount of relief with just the elimination of these two foods categories.
Red meat is another food that can impact pain. Red meat, like dairy, can be inflammatory and thus increase symptoms and pain. Like dairy, if you do find you can tolerate red meat, reduce consumption and buy organic, grass fed meats which have a healthier fat profile especially omega 3 fatty acids. Soy, especially highly processed soy, may also be an issue for many. If consuming soy, keep to a minimum and also buy organic and fermented soy products.
So what to eat. Aside from an anti-inflammatory diet focus on natural and organic, nonGMO, and whole foods. Clean eating is a must! Eating more cruciferous vegetables will also be beneficial. These include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, arugula, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens and kale. Cruciferous vegetables contain indole 3 carbinol, I3C, which can assist the body in absorbing excess estrogen as part of the natural detoxification processes of the liver. Moving towards a plant-based diet, or a more plant-focused diet, and including vegan and vegetarian meals often can have a profound effect on health. As endometriosis can also affect the gastrointestinal tract, as well as a host of body systems, an optimal diet is critical in the treatment of this disease.
Find your best diet to assist in managing symptoms, increasing energy levels, and support your healing journey.
www.drseckin.com and book: Recognizing and Treating Endometriosis: The Doctor Will See You Now, by Dr. Tamer Seckin