The endometriosis diet explained by maternal and foetal health dietitian Georgia Pandelios

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By Georgia Pandelios, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Owner at Nutrition Prescription.

With March being Endometriosis Awareness Month, it’s only fitting to discuss this condition and its management in relation to diet.

What is endometriosis?

Simply put, endometriosis is a gynaecological hormone-dependant chronic inflammatory condition. The condition leads to the growth of uterine cells outside of the uterus and it affects around 5-10% of Australian women.

General symptoms include pelvic plain, painful periods and infertility. Blood test results of women with endometriosis often show high levels of inflammatory markers, however the exact cause of endometriosis is not known.

READ MORE: Georgia Pandelios on preventing childhood allergies in pregnancy and beyond.

Is there a diet for endometriosis?

Although a curative diet for endometriosis is not known, dietetic changes are encouraged in managing the symptoms of endometriosis as some foods can influence inflammation, oestrogen levels and menstrual regularity. This is where all the research is pointing to at the moment.

Endometriosis can cause pelvic plain, painful periods and infertility.

The 4 pillars to optimising your diet for endometriosis:

1. Follow an anti-inflammatory eating pattern:

Similar to Mediterranean dietary principles, eating plenty of vegetables that are rich in antioxidants and fibre can help improve the severity of endometriosis symptoms such as pain and oxidative stress by neutralising molecules that increase oxidative damage and inflammation in the body.

READ MORE: Georgia Pandelios shares why the Mediterranean diet is the king of all diets.

2. Eat enough fibre:

Excess oestrogen circulating in the system has been likened to a pro-inflammatory effect and the severity of endometriosis symptoms. Making sure to get enough fibre in your diet may help with excreting the excess oestrogen through bowel motions. Basically, the less often bowels are evacuated, the less often excess oestrogen is removed.

3. Check your fats:

It’s important to get familiar with the different types of fats in your diet. Omega 3 for example is a healthy fat found in oily fish (e.g. salmon and tuna) and some algae. It is anti-inflammatory and can reduce the risk of endometriosis, some studies even found it reduces the survival of those wondering endometrial cells.

Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory.

READ MORE: Fat facts: Cholesterol friendly diet explained by dietitian, Georgia Pandelios.

On the other hand, trans-fats from fried foods, margarine, baked goods (e.g. pastries, cakes, biscuits) and some vegetable oils are associated with increased inflammation and risk of endometriosis. Animal fats, specifically palmitic acid found in meat is also associated with increased risk for endometriosis. Consider limiting your red meat portion size and frequency.

4. Consider supplementation:

Vitamins C, E and D, and fish oil supplements may also improve the severity of endometriosis and the associated pain symptoms. It is important, for your own safety, that you discuss suitability and an appropriate dosage with your treating doctor or dietitian before commencing any new supplements.

READ MORE: Can a healthy diet boost your immune system? Dietitian Georgia Pandelios dishes up.

Food for thought:

Although studies have found that intake of fruit can worsen symptoms of endometriosis, it is most likely due to the high level of pesticide residue and dioxins found on the skin of fruits. Choosing organic fruits and vegetables are encouraged as a suitable alternative.

Do you need to go gluten free or low FODMAP?

For those of you that have endometriosis and regular gastro-intestinal upset or pain, it may offer some relief of symptoms to undergo a supervised elimination diet of gluten and/or high FODMAP foods. Keep a food and symptom diary and discuss closely with your doctor or dietitian.

Georgia recommends eating organic fruit.

READ MORE: Dietitian, Georgia Pandelios, shares her top eight tips for shedding those COVID curves

Unfortunately, a definitive diet that prevents endometriosis from occurring, progressing or returning after surgical intervention, has not been determined yet.

If you need help in improving your endometriosis symptoms through diet, contact me at Nutrition Prescription. You can book through www.nutritionprescription.com.au or email info@nutritionprescription.com.au.

We are skilled in women’s heath nutrition. The Nutrition Prescription accredited practising dietitians offer nutrition consultations that are specially designed for the whole family – from infants to adults and elderly, through to highly specialised fertility-preconception, paediatric, sports nutrition and food reaction services. We can assist with all your nutrition needs, including complex and chronic conditions – in English, Greek and Portuguese.

Follow Nutrition Prescription on Instagram & Facebook

Disclaimer: The information in this article is generalised and is not intended to replace medical or dietetic advice, nor directly manage any medical conditions. For personalised advice, please speak with your doctor or contact us via info@nutritionprescription.com.au to make an appointment with one of our Dietitians.

READ MORE: Dietitian, Georgia Pandelios, shares her top tips on meal planning like a pro.

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