There is no conclusive evidence that dairy is bad for endometriosis. Dairy products often contain a high percentage of saturated fat and many types of hormones, which may aggravate endometriosis. On the other hand, a large study in the U.S. found that a higher intake of dairy products was associated with lower risk for endometriosis.
If you are not lactose-intolerant, you may benefit from eating low-fat, organic dairy products as they contain nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, trace minerals and vitamins. Vitamin D in particular is found to reduce inflammation, which can ease endometriosis symptoms.
Dairy product tolerance varies for each individual, and different dairy products have different effects on the digestive system. For example, some people find it difficult to digest milk but have no problem with yogurt or cheese. An elimination diet (in consultation with your doctor) may help you determine whether or not dairy helps or worsens your endometriosis symptoms.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, most commonly on the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue surrounding the uterus. It can also grow on the bladder, bowel, vagina and cervix. While the cause of endometriosis is unclear, the condition is hormone-dependent and may be aggravated by certain foods.
The endometrium is the innermost layer of the uterus, which builds up with new tissue and blood vessels every month during the menstrual cycle in preparation for pregnancy. If conception doesn’t take place, the endometrium is shed during menstruation.
In people with endometriosis, the endometrial tissue that is outside the uterus also goes through the same process of building up and breaking down during the menstrual cycle, but there is no way for the broken down tissue and blood to flow out of the body. This internal bleeding can result in the following symptoms:
Can I reverse endometriosis naturally?
Naturopathic treatment is a holistic approach that addresses symptoms of the body, mind and the spirit. While some women may benefit from naturopathy, there is no definitive cure for endometriosis. Conventional treatments for endometriosis include medications and/or surgery. Before starting any kind of treatment, you should first consult with your doctor.
Naturopathic treatment for endometriosis aims to:
- Stimulate the body’s innate ability to reduce inflammation and heal
- Balance the hormones which influence endometriosis
- Improve the liver’s ability to break down toxins
This type of treatment includes dietary modifications, botanical medicines and supplements. It may also include acupuncture, a treatment in which thin needles are inserted into your skin at specific points; this is believed to stimulate the central nervous system.
Naturopaths usually advise endometriosis patients to go on anti-inflammatory diets, which typically involve higher consumption of fruits and vegetables and reducing intake of processed foods, red meats and trans-fats.
Botanical medicines that may provide relief from endometriosis symptoms include:
- Vitex (chaste tree), used to treat hormonal imbalance
- Motherwort to relieve pain and menstrual cramps
- Rosemary, an anti-inflammatory herb
- Curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound in turmeric
- Flax seeds for their anti-inflammatory properties
- Pycnogenol, a product extracted from the bark of pine tree, for pain relief
Supplements used in naturopathic treatment to reduce pain, inflammation and excessive bleeding include:
- Diindolylmethane (DIM), a substance found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage
- Beta-carotene a substance found in orange/yellow vegetables and fruits like carrots and apricots
- Essential fatty acids such as omega-3
- N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) which is thought to reduce cyst size
What foods are bad for endometriosis?
Inflammatory foods are generally believed to aggravate endometriosis symptoms, but each individual is different. An elimination diet may be an effective way to identify which foods worsens your symptoms. You should then be able to re-introduce foods that don’t affect you. It’s also important to remember that with many foods and beverages, moderation is key.
Many women report endometriosis symptom relief from reducing or eliminating the following from their diets:
What foods help heal endometriosis?
Foods cannot cure or heal endometriosis, and there is no perfect universal diet for endometriosis. For women who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in addition to endometriosis, a low FODMAP diet (Fermentable Oligo, Di, Mono-saccharides and Polyols) may be beneficial.
The following foods, which generally promote good health, may also help lessen endometriosis symptoms:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Fatty fish and lean meat
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Low fat dairy
- Green tea
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