Welcome to the second blog post of Endometriosis Awareness Month! If you missed my last post about supporting yourself post diagnosis, check it out here. Support for endometriosis can be confusing and conflicting, an under-studied area that can be difficult to support due to the chronic, long-term nature of the disease.
That being said, the importance of nutrition support and complimentary medicine approaches is becoming more mainstream as we begin to better understand the nature of the disease. Inflammation and excess oestrogen tend to be the focus of nutritional approaches, Nutritional approaches tend to focus on anti-inflammatory support and oestrogen detoxification as inflammation and oestrogen tend to be elevated with endometriosis.
Let’s explore some of the nutrients that may help support these areas:
Supporting our gut bugs is key to the normal functioning of our overall wellbeing, but they also play a vital role in oestrogen modulation. As we know that oestrogen dominance is often present in endometriosis, making sure we feed and fuel our gut bugs with fibrous foods may aid the regulation of oestrogen.
Examples: Sweet Potato, Black Beans, Flaxseeds, Apples
Zinc is an often under-appreciated nutrient with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, as well as supporting cellular function to help further support the gut. Inflammation support is necessary in endometriosis, and increasing zinc content, levels of which tend to be reduced in those living with endometriosis, may help to reduce inflammatory that may worsen pain symptoms.
Examples: Tofu, Eggs, Oysters, Beef
Magnesium, like most nutrients, also plays multiple roles in supporting the body’s function. Whether it’s supporting muscle relaxation which may support cramps, or acting as a cofactor to modulate Vitamin D concentration which may support inflammation, magnesium may aid a range of endometriosis symptoms – it is also necessary for the formation of GABA, the relaxant neurotransmitter, and may aid anxiety!
Examples: Pumpkin Seeds, Cashews, Brown Rice, Edamame
4. Omega 3
One of the most well known anti-inflammatory nutrients out there: omega 3 (and for good reason!). Omega 3’s immune-supportive properties are appealing when supporting endometriosis as inflammation is often heightened from excess oestrogen, endometriosis growths and heightened pain and stress – plus many more reasons. Including omega 3 sources into the diet may support a reduction of pain symptoms and improve overall immune and brain function.
Examples: Salmon, Walnuts, Hemp Seeds, Olive Oil
5. Vitamin D
As noted above, Vitamin D also plays a large role in immune and hormonal regulation, supporting inflammation reduction in the process. Studies have indicated that there may be a correlation between insufficient levels of Vitamin D and heightened pain in endometriosis, though more extensive research is required. Most of our Vitamin D intake comes from the sun, meaning that those of us from the UK are likely lacking for most of the year. A supplement may be indicated to support sufficient levels.
Examples: The Sun, Eggs, Mushrooms, Oily Fish
This introductory guide is not extensive and each person has unique and individual needs. A ‘food first’ approach is always important, but if you’re thinking about supplementing or would like to learn more, get in touch with me! We can explore what works for you and your Endo and create a plan to help you feel good again.
Halpern, G., Schor, E., & Kopelman, A. (2015). Nutritional aspects related to endometriosis. Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira, 61, 519-523.
Harris, H. R., Chavarro, J. E., Malspeis, S., Willett, W. C., & Missmer, S. A. (2013). Dairy-food, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D intake and endometriosis: a prospective cohort study. American journal of epidemiology, 177(5), 420-430.
Helbig, M., Vesper, A. S., Beyer, I., & Fehm, T. (2021). Does Nutrition Affect Endometriosis?. Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde, 81(02), 191-199.
Huijs, E., & Nap, A. (2020). The effects of nutrients on symptoms in women with endometriosis: a systematic review. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 41(2), 317-328.
Osuchowska-Grochowska, I., Blicharska, E., Gogacz, M., Nogalska, A., Winkler, I., Szopa, A., … & Grochowski, C. (2021). Brief Review of Endometriosis and the Role of Trace Elements. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(20), 11098.