3 Foods to avoid for endometriosis (and 3 to eat!)

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I know when I first started on my journey with healing Endometriosis using natural methods, I found it incredibly confusing. There seemed to be a long list of foods that I was told were best to avoid and yet, somehow there didn’t seem to be many that were recommended that I should eat. I was often left standing in the middle of the supermarket, staring at the shelves, wondering what there was left to eat!

There is one major benefit I found with Endometriosis which perhaps seems ironic to some but for me, it allowed me to become a great Guinea Pig for women with Endometriosis. See, for me…. my pain is immediate! My Endometriosis would flare up fairly instantly when I ate something that didn’t agree with me. This offered me a strange advantage: I could nail down exactly what foods triggered pain and then find the opposite foods that could lower it.

So, I bring you my top 3 recommended “Go To Foods” and my top 3 “Stay Clear Foods”. There are obviously others, but to me, these ones gave me the most obvious reactions and benefits.

The most logical place to start is with the foods that create pain as we can avoid those nasty flare-up’s from the beginning.

Foods to avoid for endometriosis

The “Stay Clear Foods”

1. Gluten

Gluten is actually a protein that is found in all grains. The type of gluten we are mostly concerned with is the one found in wheat. See, it is not the same as it used to be! This gluten has been hybridized and processed in a way that is very difficult for our bodies to digest. 70% of the world’s population actually struggle to digest this new form of wheat. It instantly creates an inflammatory reaction within the body but what makes it so harmful is that it limits mineral and vitamin absorption. With women with Endometriosis, it limits those same minerals and vitamins that we so desperately need including the Vitamin B’s, Iron, Selenium, and Iodine.

The strain of wheat is often used in other grains such as barley, rye, and spelt. It is therefore advised to avoid all gluten and not just wheat-based foods.

If this is the first time you are hearing this, you are probably freaking out now. What? I can’t have any bread? I know I believed there was nothing left to eat when bread, pasta and my favorite chocolate chip cookies were no longer an option.

There are fabulous alternatives like quinoa seeds, millet and chia seeds. Truth is, when we start getting creative about what we eat, breads and pasta is just so passé. (Just love that word!)

 

2. Soy Products

Soy is probably one of those confusing foods. Many proclaim that it has incredible sources of protein and that it is a great health food. I have found that for Endometriosis women it is not a recommended food. It is very high in phytoestrogens. These are plant-based hormones and will alter our natural hormone balance. With Endometriosis, we tend to naturally have imbalances when it comes to our hormones. Women with Endometriosis are often estrogen dominant, which basically means we have too many estrogens and not enough progesterones. These hormones work like a seesaw and too much of one or the other is not a good thing.

Soy has been shown to alter the natural hormone balance in women and particularly women with Endometriosis. This means, we should avoid any foods that contain high amounts of soy and even traces of soy. That includes soy milk, soy ice-creams and soy products. We should also be careful of hidden soy ingredients, such as soy lecithin often found in chocolates, protein powders and many packaged foods. Some soy products are however beneficial for women with Endometriosis, particularly those which have been fermented such as tempeh and natto.

The way soy is produced and extracted is also questionable for our general health. Soy is often sourced from genetically modified beans and is extracted using hexane gas.

 

3. Flax seeds

I absolutely loved flax seeds when I first discovered them. They were a great source of Omega 3’s and contain high amounts of protein. Unfortunately, after a few months of eating them and religiously slurping my flax oil, my pain became quite intense. I eliminated all other possible culprits and eventually settled on triple researching flax.

What I discovered was that flax oils can frequently be rancid. This means, that instead of being beneficial to the body they actually become free radicals in the body. Free radicals create damage and will make us age faster too! Definitely, don’t want that to happen.

Flax is also highly estrogenic and once again will create imbalances with our hormones.

* There are many foods, oils and supplements which are estrogenic in nature. Most plants are naturally estrogenic and it is impossible to avoid all of them. Soy and Flax that have very high levels of plant estrogens, which is why they have made it on my list of “Stay Clear Foods”. You can read more about plant-based hormones through my website.

Okay, so we have gotten the nasty stuff out-of-the-way! Lets focus on all the good stuff we can add back into our bodies.

 

The “Go To Foods”

1. Brazil Nuts

I have always enjoyed nuts and when I discovered the amazing healing properties and minerals found in Brazil Nuts, I was very excited. There is a mineral which is found in high volumes within Brazil Nuts called Selenium. It is a mineral which is frequently deficient in those that suffer from Endometriosis. It is so well-recognized that farmers will feed their cows selenium to prevent them from getting Endometriosis!

By eating just two Brazil Nuts a day, we will get sufficient quantities of Selenium to meet our daily needs.

2. Those Leafy Greens

They keep coming up, don’t they? Well, these guys are crucial from so many aspects. They help detoxify our bodies, they ensure our digestion has got adequate roughage and they provide us with heaps of good Vitamins and minerals. The one we are really interested in is folates. This is the natural form of Folic Acid we have been encouraged to take. Folates are found naturally in dark leafy greens and provides the building blocks for red blood cells and provide heaps of healing for Endometriosis.

You can get dark leafy greens into your body is simple ways like juicing and blending combinations together. There are also forms of dark leafy greens which provide even more benefits than the usual salads. Try Moringa leaf, Dandelion leaves and Beetroot leaves in your next salad for a wider variety of nutritional benefits.

3. Chia Seeds

This tiny little black seed provides a fabulous source of Omega 3 and healing for our bodies. This source of Omega 3 provides healing for Endometriosis as it balances out the Omega 3 to 6 ratio. Most of us have an imbalance of too much Omega 6 fats in the body. This imbalance creates an inflammatory reaction and with Endometriosis this is really noticeable!

The Chia Seed is also loaded with minerals and vitamins and includes some great anti-oxidants like Quercetin and Myricetin.

Chia Seeds also provide a great remedy for digestive troubles. Many women with Endometriosis also experience symptoms of IBS. Chia Seeds provide a mucus layer for the intestinal wall and help heal Leaky Gut Syndrome – a condition very common with women with Endometriosis.

My favorite way to eat Chia Seeds is in a pudding recipe. It tastes delicious and you can add a whole bunch of superfoods to the mix. I enjoy having Chia as a desert and even breakfast. It certainly keeps me regular and has reduced any inflammation.

 

Endometriosis has given me an amazing gift as I was able to heal my body, simply by learning to listen and recognize what triggered pain and what provided healing. Nature has provided us with so many amazing tools to heal.

These are just some of my favorites.

What foods, herbs and tools have you found that have helped your Endometriosis?

Melissa
Having discovered the cause of her endless pain at the tender age of 19, Melissa has dedicated her life to finding a way to just live a "normal" life with Endometriosis. She explored all the recommended options including hormonal treatments and after 7 operations decided that there must be a better way for her body. Melissa now lives completely pain and symptom-free with Endometriosis. She would like to Empower more women about what they CAN DO for their Endometriosis to feel better. You can sign up for her free introductory course to become Endo Empowered by visiting her website. www.endoempowered.com
Melissa
Melissa
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25 Comments

  1. Hélène

    Flaxseeds, that u grind just b4 u mix them with water and slurp down with a straw. The lignans in flax bind to the estrogen. But it is goitrogenic, so not too much if ur thryoid’s whacking out. No more than 2 or 3T per day.
    I dont know if u mentioned it in the soy section, but fermented soy is fine–miso, tempeh, natto. the rest of it, yes, stay the heck away from–everyone!

  2. cheryl

    Are you saying flax and flax oil is bad or just the oil?

  3. Melissa

    Great question Cheryl 🙂 The lignans in Flax are what make them estrogenic. They are called plant estrogens or phytoestrogens. Our environment unfortunately contains too many estrogens, which are more powerful than our own estrogens – the harmful ones in our environement are called Xenoestrogens. Plastics, the contraceptive pill and pesticides are some examples of Xenoestrogens. They throw out the natural balance within our bodies as we get too many of them. In the past we might have been okay to consume highly estrogenic plant estrogens like flaxseeds/ flax oils. If you suffer from Endometriosis, which is generally attributed with high Estrogen, it is best to avoid adding anymore estrogens – whether they are plant based or from the environment 🙂

    Fermented soy products are much better for sure! I love my Miso soup and the fermentation process also helps with good digestion 🙂 Thanks for sharing Helene 🙂

  4. Tara

    Hello,
    I am trying to get pregnant using IUI and my doctor says that b/c of my endometriosis, he wants me to take fertility drugs. I do not want to put drugs into my body. Any suggestions? I love the food and enviornmental advice

    • Melissa

      Hi Tara,
      You can find a heap of information on my blog about how to use foods to heal your body and prepare your body for pregnancy 🙂 check it out: http://www.cureendometriosis.com

  5. Kelly Cook

    Do you have scientific support for your claim that all grais have gluten? I think that’s incorrect, but if not, I’d like to see the research. Thanks! 🙂

    • Melissa

      Hi Kelly,
      It is very confusing 🙂 The marketing indicates that only Wheat, Barley, Spelt and Rye contain Gluten, but in fact all grains contain some kind of protein/ Gluten. The one that causes the problems for most people is found in these grains. There is a great YouTube Video which explains it far better than I can in a short comment 🙂 Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv5RwxYW8yA
      Hope that helps 🙂

      • Kelly Cook

        His statements are technically incorrect. All grains do NOT have gluten, it is only found in wheat. What it seems he is trying to convey is that the gluten protein contains a peptide similar to peptides found in rye, oats and barley and that those peptides can cause similar reactions for gluten sensitive people. That is not the same as saying all grains have gluten. If they did, celiac patients would not be able to eat rice flour, corn flour, etc, but they can.

  6. Elizabeth

    Hi,
    I was wondering if you find that all gluten-containing grains are problematic, or just modern wheat? I have endo and I have found that I can’t digest wheat without pain, but I do fine with spelt, barley, and rye in moderation. I also have found that oats just kill me–almost as bad as wheat, even though they are not technically a gluten-containing grain. Thanks!

    • Melissa

      Hi Elizabeth,
      All grains contain some kind of Gluten. You might just be sensitive to the ones found in Wheat and Oats. It is also important to check what kind of Oats you are getting as some might contain traces of Wheat Gluten – if produced in a factory with it. I also found the the Instant/Quick Oats create more problems as they release too quickly into the bloodstream. Have you tried Steelcut whole oats hun?

      • Elizabeth

        I actually find that the more processed the oats are, the fewer problems I have with them. I’m toying with the idea of soaking or fermenting organic oats and then cooking them, to see if that helps my digestion. Every person’s sensitivities are unique, I suppose.

        • Melissa

          For sure 🙂 That sounds like a brilliant idea 🙂 Fermenting will do wonders for your digestion too!

  7. Sid

    One does not need that much flax anyway..we need more of the omega 6 cold pressed and organic in a ratio of 2 to 1 in favor of the 6

  8. Carrie

    I have been reading the book “the Violet Protocol” by Zoe Brown. What an eye opener. She talks about many things stated here but also suggests to avoid tap water, carrots, apples, beans etc. it’s my saving grace yet though one question. I have low levels of estrogen and progesterone yet had laparoscopy to remove stage 3 endometriosis a year and a half ago. Odd. Good luck everyone stay on course to feeling better

    • Melissa

      Hi Carrie,
      I read that book too and was a little disappointed with the falseness of their marketing. You will discover they have the same content over several different sites. It made me question the value of it to be honest. I have implemented many of the recommendations but it is good to research other things too 🙂
      Not all women with Endometriosis seem to have hormone imbalances or what is called Estrogen Dominance. It all comes back to the liver though so focus on healing that and you will feel better. Also, the hormones of estrogen and progesterone act like a sea-saw, so as long as they are equal they are fine. The level of them is not as relevant as the balance between them 🙂
      Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Sharon K

    I grind about one teaspoon of flaxseed in my smoothie four times a week for my high cholesterol. I have endometreosis and failed thyroid. Is it possible the seeds are making my hormone levels and cycle pains worse?

    • Melissa

      It certainly could be Sharon. I would however look strongly at your liver function and improving that. You may also want to look at supplementing with iodine – though check with a practitioner on that one 🙂
      I just eat more seaweeds in my diet and have found that really helps both my endo and my thyroid help.

  10. Crystal

    I was dignosed with endo for the first time a year after using flax in my smoothies; alost 5 yeas ago. I’m almost 100% that the flax caused it or contributed to the endo. Now when women rave about the benefits of flax I cringe knowing what flax did to me. I later lost a baby from the endometriosis. I know avoid most store bought granola or protien bars even cereals because many contain flax seed.

    That was 2 years ago and now we are ttc again this time with more knowledge and the right foods hopefully it’s and sucess. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    • Donielle Baker

      Crystal, Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so very sorry for your loss. <3

  11. Katie

    I just bought flax oil today, took a spoonful then read this! No more! My endo is large and on both ovaries. I believe it is from liver stagnation. What do you suggest for healing the liver? I am active, vegatarian, late 30s, reduced alcohol but like 4-5 non alcoholic beers a week and trying Bowen Therapy. Thanks for your thoughts in advance.

  12. caitlin youngman

    I believe I have endro. I have been having only green smoothies for last two weeks and got the pain levels down and then today added some flax seed meal and the intense aching was back. I have not had the test and won’t because my body wouldn’t handle it but all these little things seem to be giving me the answer .

  13. nezima

    Hi
    Am an endo patient. It all started by irregular menstrual periods way back 2001. I continued skipping my cycle for either four months then receives a heavy flow lasting sometimes two good week’s. So I continued with this condition not until by 2008 I developed an abdominal sharp pain which was a result of menstrual flow later did I know it’s was the symptoms of the endometriosis. I went thru this pain not until a reasonable clot mixer of blood with some substances fell of me which I later found out it was the endo bowel .I got treated by a gynecologist but my treatment wasn’t up to date cause I think he wasn’t an expert thou.

    I continued with my condition thou on medication through out. By 2009 the situation worsened too much bleeding which I was referred to do D&C . Which I did. And by then I was still a student at a university and my doctor advised me conceive within a year to improve on my rectify my illness .so by 2011 I God willingly conceived through the help of fertility medication . I gave birth through a c section in 2012 August . After then I stayed for a year after giving birth. Later I started menstruating my normal menstrual which could last for a week then stops . Suddenly within six months I started another heavy flow which has gone back to the previous state. I kept on medication till now .I have taken pills to rectify my cycle all in vein . I am told to do hormone profile which am going to do next week. Please I need your advice. Could it be the endometriosis in me has spread all over my womb? Should I just do surgery remove my uterus? Am just tired staying everyday in blood? Kindly advice me. Thanks looking forward to your rely
    God bless you.

    • Donielle Baker

      It’s common for endo to kind of go into “remission” during and after pregnancy only to begin growing again and come back some time later. I’d check out Melissa’s site (www.endoempowered.com) as well as all of her articles here on NFW – http://naturalfertilityandwellness.com/author/melissa/

  14. Danielle

    Hi, I just came across this article yesterday and I find it very helpful. My endometriosis pain is managed by birthcontrol and a wholesome diet. But I’m wondering if avoiding this foods is just for pain management or if avoiding them will help with fertility aswell?