If you have endometriosis, you can already recite its lengthy list of pretty terrible symptoms. And the standard options for managing those symptoms — medications, hormone therapy, hormonal birth control, estrogen blockers, surgery — aren’t always great. But there is evidence that a so-called “endometriosis diet” can help. By prioritizing specific nutrients, and avoiding foods that aggravate the condition, you can reduce the inflammation and pain endometriosis causes. Here’s what to know about the best nutrients to help endometriosis, and whether prenatal vitamins are a clever option.
- Exact causes of endometriosis aren’t yet known, but there is evidence that its inflammatory reaction can be managed with nutrition and lifestyle changes.
- Avoiding trans fat, red meat, high FODMAPs foods, gluten, alcohol, and caffeine can improve endometriosis symptoms.
- Eating a balanced diet rich in mostly plant-based foods is a good way to get key nutrients that can also help with endometriosis symptoms.
- There is evidence that supplementing with specific nutrients, including vitamins D, E, C, and B6, can help manage endometriosis.
- For women in their childbearing years, a high-quality prenatal vitamin like Beli for Women is a good way to shore up nutritional gaps and get a steady stream of key nutrients.
- While endometriosis can complicate things, it doesn’t mean pregnancy is impossible.
Nutrition and Endometriosis
While the exact causes of endometriosis remain a mystery, we do know the effect — a chronic inflammatory reaction within the pelvis, and sometimes in other parts of the body.
And while there is not yet a cure for this chronic condition, nutrients that fight inflammation can reduce the severity of symptoms it causes.
First things first is knowing what to avoid. In a nutshell, it’s all the stuff that you’d generally steer clear of in pursuit of a healthy, nutritious diet:
- Trans fats. This is the fat found in fast foods, or anything fried or processed. Women who partake in foods high in trans fats are more likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis.
- Red meat. Research links a diet high in red meat with a greater chance of developing endometriosis.
- High-FODMAP foods. FODMAP is short for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, which are basically sugars that are hard to absorb in the gut, triggering all kinds of issues. There is evidence that symptoms of endometriosis and irritable bowel syndrome both improve with low FODMAP diets.
- Gluten. Some research finds that a gluten-free diet significantly reduces the pain associated with endometriosis.
- Alcohol and caffeine. Because they raises estrogen levels, alcohol and caffeine are best avoided if you have or you’re at risk of having endometriosis.
Instead, the idea is to fill your plate with balanced, nutrient-dense foods that are mostly plant based and therefore brimming with vitamins and minerals.
Key Nutrients to Prioritize
Eating for nutrition means shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. It means lots of dark leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, brightly-colored fruits, avocado, eggs, olives, whole grains, salmon, nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate (yay!). These foods deliver specific nutrients — think iron, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants. But since every diet is lacking somewhere, supplementing is rarely a mistake. Various studies have found that specific nutrients can decrease symptoms like pelvic pain and inflammation.
- Vitamin D. Deficiencies in vitamin D have been strongly associated with both the development of endometriosis and symptom severity. That aligns with other research that links low vitamin D levels with other chronic pain conditions.
- Vitamin E. Oxidative stress is a culprit in the development of endometriosis and its symptoms, and research shows that women with the condition have lower levels of antioxidants. Vitamin E is a key antioxidant and can help reduce the damage of scavenging free radicals.
- Vitamin C. Another antioxidant, vitamin C can increase progesterone levels, reducing unpleasant symptoms like migraines, PMS, and mood. Note that supplementing with vitamin C can also raise estrogen levels, so it’s a good idea to work with a doctor to check hormone levels so you can be sure of the appropriate dose.
- Vitamin B6. This is a hormone regulator that can also reduce estrogen levels. It’s actually recommended for alleviating premenstrual symptoms as well, like sore breasts.
A Word on Endometriosis and Fertility
Endometriosis can make things trickier, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant or have children. The key appears to be getting an early diagnosis and taking steps to manage it well. And whether you have endometriosis or not, a high-quality prenatal vitamin is non-negotiable if you’re even vaguely entertaining the idea of pregnancy in the best few years. Luckily, we’ve got just the recommendation!
Beli for Women is a high-quality, bioavailable prenatal vitamin designed to support your fertility. It’s one of the only prenatals on the market meeting current recommendations for key nutrients in all the right amounts, including vitamin E, folate, choline, iodine, and magnesium, and incidentally, it has all the best nutrients for managing endometriosis, too. It’s designed for simplicity, efficacy, safety, quality, and purity. In other words, a daily serving gives you one less thing to worry about.
If you haven’t yet tried nutrition and lifestyle changes to manage symptoms of endometriosis, there’s a lot of evidence that it’s worth doing just that. Supplementing with a high-quality prenatal, particularly if you’re in your reproductive years, is also a good way to shore up nutritional gaps. Exercise, yoga, acupuncture and massage — all of which reduce estrogen levels and boost endorphins levels — are worth exploring too.