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Endometriosis Diet: Foods to Eat & Avoid

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Prioritize eating whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats to manage symptoms linked to endometriosis.  
  • Limit foods that may cause inflammation or trigger endometriosis flare-ups, such as red meat, soy, processed foods, sugar, and excessive caffeine or alcohol. Some people also benefit from avoiding or limiting gluten or dairy.
  • Seek personalized guidance from a registered dietitian to develop an endometriosis eating plan that helps you feel your best.

Research suggests that foods can significantly impact symptoms of endometriosis.

While there’s no officially recognized diet for endometriosis, studies suggest that certain foods may increase inflammation or estrogen in your body while, in contrast, other foods may help bring balance and lessen your symptoms. 

Read on to discover how diet may impact endometriosis, foods to include, and foods to limit or avoid.

Take advantage of the sample meal ideas and get started towards better managing your endometriosis symptoms.  

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Does Diet Impact Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation and unbalanced hormones. Tissues grow outside the uterus, which can contribute to pelvic pain and make it harder to get pregnant. 

The types of food and beverages you consume may significantly impact your symptoms by influencing your inflammation and hormone levels.

For example, foods rich in anti-inflammatory properties, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fatty fish, may help reduce inflammation, and relieve pain and discomfort. 

Additionally, incorporating foods into your diet that help balance estrogen levels, such as high-fiber foods, may help reduce endometriosis growth.  

Some foods also contain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium that may help promote overall health and ease endometriosis symptoms.

On the other hand, eating foods that increase inflammation, such as processed foods, trans fats, and red meat, may worsen inflammation and increase the hormone imbalance, potentially worsening your symptoms. 

Foods To Include In An Endometriosis Diet

While there’s no specific “endometriosis diet,” the following foods may help reduce overall inflammation and circulating estrogen and boost essential vitamins and minerals.

Fruits And Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables offer several healthy benefits for endometriosis. 

For one, they are full of fiber, which may help reduce estrogen levels.

A 2020 systematic review of research found that fiber has several effects on the gut microbiome (beneficial bacteria and viruses in your gut) and circulating hormones that can help reduce estrogen levels. 

Eating fiber also promotes regular bowel movements and a healthy microbiome. Constipation and a poor microbiome are common among people with endometriosis.

Consuming a diet full of fruits and vegetables also has the potential to reduce your overall inflammation and boost your vitamin C levels. 

Below is a short list of fruits and vegetables you can choose from, but there's no limit on what fruits and vegetables you can eat for endometriosis. 

  • Apples.
  • Avocados.
  • Bananas.
  • Berries.
  • Citrus fruits.
  • Dates.
  • Grapes.
  • Melons.
  • Asparagus.
  • Beets.
  • Bell peppers.
  • Cabbage.
  • Carrots.
  • Celery.
  • Cucumbers.
  • Leafy greens.
  • Green beans.
  • Peas.
  • Radishes.
  • Squash.
  • Tomatoes.

Whole Grains

Whole grains have multiple ways they may help reduce endometriosis symptoms.

They’re an important part of a balanced diet, and similar to fruits and vegetables, whole grains are also packed with fiber that may help reduce overall inflammation, prevent constipation, and balance estrogen levels

Whole grains are also a good source of B vitamins, which studies show may help reduce incidences of endometriosis. 

Another benefit of whole grains is their high levels of magnesium

Studies suggest that people with endometriosis have low levels of magnesium.

Magnesium is an important mineral for helping smooth muscles relax, such as the smooth muscles of the uterus that cause cramping.

Eating a magnesium-rich diet may reduce discomfort associated with endometriosis uterine cramping. 

Whole grains include:

  • Whole wheat bread.
  • Quinoa.
  • Oatmeal.
  • Brown rice.
  • Whole cornmeal.
  • Barley.
  • Whole wheat pasta.

It’s important to note that some people with endometriosis may have a sensitivity to gluten and feel better when they avoid grains containing gluten.

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Proteins

Protein is an essential part of a balanced diet and can be a good source of vitamin D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, each of which may help reduce inflammation and endometriosis discomfort.

Good sources of protein include: 

  • Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and cod.
  • Shellfish such as shrimp, lobster, crab, and oysters.
  • Liver.
  • Egg yolk.
  • Cheese.
  • Poultry.
  • Beans.
  • Nuts, such as walnuts.
  • Dairy products.
  • Chia seeds.
  • Flax seeds.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, such as monounsaturated fats and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, are an important part of reducing inflammation associated with endometriosis. 

A review of research demonstrates the potential benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in:

  • Reducing signs of inflammation.
  • Reducing the growth of extra blood cells in endometriosis tissues.
  • Inhibiting endometrial cell growth.

A 2020 clinical trial revealed that individuals who took 1000 milligrams of fish oil supplements daily experienced a notable decrease in endometriosis pain.

Foods that contain healthy fats include:

  • Fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, trout, sea bass).
  • Chia seeds and flaxseeds (including flaxseed oil).
  • Olive, canola, avocado, and soybean oil.
  • English or black walnuts.
  • Kidney beans.
  • Avocados.

Foods To Avoid Or Limit For Endometriosis

Certain foods may cause increased inflammation or estrogen levels.

These can include:

  • Red meat: Red meats may increase inflammation and worsen symptoms. Consider limiting it to a couple of servings a week.
  • Soy: Studies suggest people with endometriosis may have fewer symptoms when they avoid soy products (edamame, soy milk, tofu, miso, soy sauce, and some meat alternatives).
  • Dairy: Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and butter may worsen endometriosis symptoms. However, research is mixed on this, and some people benefit from dairy.
  • Gluten: In one study, people with endometriosis who avoided gluten had fewer symptoms. Gluten is found in many grain products such as bread, pasta, pastries, cakes, crackers, and other foods.
  • Processed foods: Processed foods are packed with sugar, trans and saturated fats, and additives that may contribute to inflammation. 
  • Sugar: It’s best to avoid or limit added sugar as it can lead to changes in the body that increase inflammation
  • Coffee: Coffee may cause irritation for some people with endometriosis. However, the research is mixed. 
  • Alcohol: Alcohol may play a role in increasing symptoms of endometriosis and inflammation. It’s best to limit alcohol intake to one or two drinks a week.

Sample Meal Plan For An Endometriosis Diet 

Below are several meal ideas that may help with symptoms of endometriosis.

Breakfast

  • Overnight oats with almond butter and banana: Combine oats, almond milk, almond butter, and sliced bananas in a jar. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Smoothie bowl with mixed berries and chia seeds: Blend frozen berries, greek yogurt, spinach, and almond milk until smooth. Pour into a bowl and top with granola, chia seeds, slivered almonds, and fresh berries.
  • Egg and veggie breakfast muffins: Whisk eggs with diced vegetables (onions, bell peppers, spinach) and pour into muffin tins. Bake until set.

Lunch 

  • Turkey and avocado wrap with hummus: Fill a whole wheat wrap with sliced turkey breast, mixed greens, mashed avocado, and some hummus.
  • Lentil soup with spinach and tomatoes: Simmer lentils with diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, garlic, and spices. Add fresh spinach leaves towards the end of cooking for a hearty and nutritious soup. 
  • Quinoa and chickpea salad with lemon-tahini dressing: Toss cooked quinoa, chickpeas, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and mixed greens with some fresh lemon juice and tahini.

Snack

  • Apple slices with almond butter.
  • Veggie sticks with hummus or guacamole.
  • Greek yogurt parfait with granola, honey, and berries.

Dinner 

  • Baked salmon with roasted vegetables: Marinate salmon filets in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs. Bake until flaky and serve with a side of roasted vegetables like brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and asparagus tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Vegetable stir-fry with chicken: Sauté chicken with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce until cooked through. Add in a colorful array of stir-fry vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, snap peas, and carrots. Serve over brown rice or quinoa.
  • Stuffed bell peppers with quinoa and black beans: Halve bell peppers and remove seeds. Fill with a mixture of cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, onions, and spices. Bake until peppers are tender and serve with a side of avocado slices and a dollop of Greek yogurt or salsa. 

Other Tips For Improving Endometriosis With Diet

In addition to eating well-balanced meals that reduce inflammation and estrogen, here are some additional tips for improving your endometriosis:

  • Get professional guidance: Consult with a registered dietitian who specializes in endometriosis to develop an individualized diet plan.
  • Experiment with elimination diets: Consider trying an elimination diet to identify foods triggering or exacerbating your endometriosis symptoms. Some common trigger foods include gluten, dairy, and soy, although sensitivities vary.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support your overall health and hydration, as this helps your body function at its best.
  • Try supplements: If you are still experiencing frequent or severe endometriosis symptoms, consider taking a supplement such as quercetin, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), probiotics, resveratrol, and alpha-lipoic acid after consulting with your healthcare provider

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Takeaway

Endometriosis is a condition associated with heightened levels of inflammation and estrogen. 

Planning your meals and snacks around consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats may help reduce some endometriosis symptoms and reduce inflammation. 

Also, learning to avoid or limit foods that trigger symptoms or enhance inflammation, such as processed foods, meat, soy, and sugar, may help you feel more comfortable and healthy overall. 

How A Dietitian Can Help

A dietitian can play a significant role in helping you discover which foods may be impacting your inflammation and hormone balance and give personalized guidance on how to adjust your diet. 

They can also offer practical strategies and support to help address emotional and behavioral aspects of eating, such as mindful eating practices and stress management. 

As you progress, a dietitian can monitor your response to the dietary changes and make necessary adjustments to your meal plan to optimize your outcomes. 

Find a dietitian who accepts insurance through Nourish. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can someone with endometriosis eat eggs?

Eggs can be a great source of protein for individuals with endometriosis and typically don’t cause problems.

However, sensitivities can vary from person to person, and it’s important to listen to your body and pay attention to how foods, including eggs, affect your symptoms.

Can certain foods cause endometriosis to flare up?

While research on this topic is still growing, there’s some evidence to suggest that certain foods may contribute to inflammation and exacerbated symptoms.

Foods to avoid or limit may include processed foods, refined sugars, red meat, and soy. Some people also benefit from limiting dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol.

What triggers endometriosis flare-ups?

Various factors, including hormone changes, stress, inflammation, and dietary choices may trigger endometriosis flare-ups. 

Identifying triggers in your diet may help you reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups.

References

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