Up to 15% of American women may have endometriosis, an often-painful condition that affects the reproductive system. Endometrial tissue, typically found in the lining of the uterus, grows outside instead, in areas of the body such as the ovaries, bowel, fallopian tubes, and elsewhere in the pelvis. While some women experience painful symptoms quickly, others only learn they have the condition after there has been a significant progression of the illness.

The cause of endometriosis is not yet known, and there is no cure for the illness, although there are multiple effective treatments that can minimize pain and other damaging side effects. Women with endometriosis may experience heavy bleeding during menstruation, painful intercourse and periods, potential infertility. While aggressive treatment is important to reduce the risks of complications, women can also bolster their fight against the condition by following key diet guidelines.

RELATED: Exercise Reduces the Pain from periods

Good Endometriosis Diet

An endometriosis-aware diet aims to minimize foods that boost estrogen levels or certain types of prostaglandins, which can contribute to endometriosis flare-ups, pain, and other complications from the disorder. Consuming the right foods can help to soothe symptoms and reduce inflammation.

Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fats are healthy fats, often found in fatty fish. These oils can help to reduce inflammation and pain. They are differentiated from omega-6 fats, often found in plant oils. Women with endometriosis may benefit from a high ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats in their diets. Foods rich in omega-3 fats include salmon, sardines, oysters, mackerel, and anchovies. Flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are also healthy sources of omega-3 fats, especially for women following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Dietary Fiber

Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits can also be an important part of a healthful endometriosis diet. High fiber intake may lower estrogen levels, an important goal for women with endometriosis. It’s not just fiber, though: many high-fiber foods also boost antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and colorful foods like berries, spinach, beets, and oranges can be great contributions to a healthy diet.

Iron-rich Foods

This disorder is often linked to heavy menstrual bleeding, which can lead to iron deficiency. Iron-rich foods like broccoli, beans, nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens can help to boost iron resources and guard against deficiencies.

Bad Endometriosis Diet

On the other hand, there are also some key foods to avoid to boost health and resiliency when dealing with this condition.

RELATED: What is Endometriosis?

Soy Products

Soy is high in phytoestrogens, which can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Excess estrogen can exacerbate symptoms, so avoiding further hormone disruption is important. Take care of your diet by avoiding soy milk, soy lecithin, and other soy products.

Red Meat and Processed Foods

High red-meat diets, especially when they contain highly processed red meats, may be linked to higher inflammation and even higher blood estrogen levels. While the link between red meat and endometriosis is unclear, other protein sources provide much more beneficial outcomes for women with the condition.

Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeine is often found in tea, coffee, and soft drinks. Caffeine is a phytoestrogen, linked to higher estrogen levels, and it is also linked to abdominal cramps. Coffee can even inhibit iron absorption, a particular concern for women who may be particularly susceptible to iron deficiency. Alcohol has also been linked to higher estrogen levels and endometriosis risk, and excess consumption can add stress to the liver. Good liver function is important to remove high estrogen levels from the body.

There are a number of medical and surgical treatment options that can help to treat the symptoms of endometriosis and reduce the risk of complications. An individualized treatment plan can respond to each woman’s needs for the best possible results. To make an appointment for a consultation about diagnosis and treatment, contact the offices of Dr. Tahery at (310)446-4440 or use our secure online form.