Treating Endometriosis Through Nutrition
Research presented to a major conference on reproduction in 2007 found that nutritional treatment could reduce pain by 50 percent and also greatly increase the chance of pregnancy in women with endometriosis. As a rule conventional doctors are skeptical of a dietary approach to disease since most evidence is anecdotal. However, these particular findings were presented at the annual conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The presenter was Dian Shepperson Mills MA, a British nutritionist who pioneered a dietary program to treat endometriosis.
Dian Mills is director of the Endometriosis and Fertility Clinic in London and Sussex, England; chair of the Nutrition Special Interest Group at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and author of Endometriosis: A key to Healing and Fertility through Nutrition.
Nutritional Changes to Treat Endometriosis
Ms. Mills suggests that: "Women with endometriosis should avoid fatty foods, such as red meat and [high fat] dairy foods that may be high in PCBs and dioxins, to reduce their exposure to these estrogenic pesticides." She goes on to recommend that it is best to eat organic food whenever possible. Barring organic, she says that peeling the fruits and vegetables is next-best. There is some research that suggests a link between dioxins and estrogen levels.
There is also some evidence of oxidative stress (including free-radicals) and endometriosis. A lack of antioxidants may also contribute to endometriosis and proper absorption of key anti-oxidant vitamins and nutrients like selenium and vitamins A, C, and E potentially keep the cell-damaging substances under control.
The basic centerpiece of Ms. Mills' diet for endometriosis includes:
· Buying the freshest food available and eat it while it is still fresh.
· Avoid highly processed foods (they are full of additives)
· Eat raw vegetables and fruit every day
· Eat organically grown foods to avoid pesticide contamination
· Eat a wide variety of different fresh foods
· Eat 75 grams of quality protein from healthy sources: meat, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy
· Eat nuts, seeds, legume; two portions of red or orange vegetables; two leafy greens; and two fruits, including berries (high in antioxidants)
Adequate B Vitamins and Iron from Nutritional Sources to Treat Endometriosis
It is important for women with endometriosis to have adequate B vitamins in order to help the liver break estradiol down to estriol. Estriol is the form of estrogen that binds to fiber and can be excreted from the body. By eating foods that are high in vitamin B (leafy greens) the body can manage the constant breakdown of circulating estrogens - a primary issue in endometriosis. Iron is also very important, especially in light of the fact that women with endometriosis often experience heavy blood loss. Heme iron is available in animal protein and non-heme iron can be obtained through plant sources.
Nutritional Value of Fish, Fruit, Vegetables, and Pure Water
Avoiding trans fats and saturated fats is important as well. Omega fatty acids can be obtained through eating a tablespoon of cold-pressed vegetable oil in the foods that are eaten. Good sources of omega fatty acids are cold water fish like salmon and halibut, tree nuts, seeds, and extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil. Fiber to keep the colon healthy should come from one or several of the following sources:
· nuts, seeds
· whole grains: rye, oats, rice, corn, millet, and buckwheat
Drinking plenty of pure, filtered water and avoiding caffeine, refined sugars, sweeteners, soda and alcohol are particularly useful in treating endometriosis. Supplementation, used judiciously, is another benefit. However, the supplements should be free from yeast, gluten, wheat, dairy, and sugars.
Treating Endometriosis through Nutrition by Eliminating Wheat and Gluten
One connection Ms. Mills made that has proven to be a golden key in the nutritional treatment of endometriosis is the elimination of gluten from the diet. It seems that eating a wheat-free, gluten-free diet has been instrumental for many of the 20,000 women who have been helped using this method of nutrition. The best way to find out if eliminating gluten is going to address the pain and discomfort in the body is to stay away entirely from any foods that contain wheat or gluten for a period of at least one month. The way a woman feels after that period should be enough to let her know how gluten and wheat affect her endometriosis.
Combined with other protocols, eating a diet that is designed to keep the body healthy and help it heal itself is one of the best ways to get onto the road to recovery from endometriosis.