Diet for Endometriosis

Diet for Endometriosis

Endometriosis is where tissue behaving similarly to the lining of the womb, is found outside of the womb. The cells react each month just like the cells in the womb do – they build up, then break down and bleed, but this blood cannot escape the body, hence inflammation, internal bleeding and pain occurring. The cells in the womb leave as a period during menstruation.

15 per cent of women, who are of reproductive age, are thought to be affected by this chronic health condition. [91]


Symptoms of endometriosis differ greatly from person to person. The severity of pain also varies, and despite common misconception, has no relation to the amount of tissue that is grown. Symptom severity is more dependent on where the tissue is located, meaning a small amount may be more painful than a large amount.

Common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Dysmenorrhea: painful period cramps
  • Menorrhagia: heavy period bleeding
  • Pain during and after sex
  • Bleeding while not on your period
  • Possible infertility: around 30 to 50 per cent of women with endometriosis are infertile [90]

Rarer symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Discomfort when passing urine
  • Bleeding from your anus, or blood in your stool


The cause of endometriosis is currently unknown, and although scientists have presented theories on the reason behind it, none have been proven.

The main risk factor for endometriosis is genetics, with sisters and daughters of women with endometriosis being more likely to develop endometriosis. Researchers also believe that exposure to toxins may influence the development of endometriosis, although evidence for this has been inconclusive.


Treatment for endometriosis differs based on how far the disease has progressed. Drugs can be prescribed, aimed at stopping normal hormonal cycles, in order to keep abnormal tissue from spreading. In cases where symptoms are severe and debilitating, a hysterectomy is recommended. However, in certain cases this can be an ineffective treatment model.

Should you suffer from endometriosis, changes in your diet may help to reduce the pain. Simple dietary changes, and the use of supplements, can decrease inflammation and help improve symptom management.

As the aim of this diet is to decrease inflammation, it is based quite heavily on the ancient Mediterranean diet. It focuses on eating plenty of fish, an abundance of fruit and vegetables, and cutting out red meats and processed foods.

Foods to include

  • Fruits: berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, acai berries and tomatoes) and other fruits such as cherries and oranges are high in antioxidants, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Seeds and nuts: these contain large quantities of omega-3, which fights inflammation, have a high fibre content, and are rich in vitamin E as well as other vitamins and dietary elements which aid healthy functioning. Options include Brazil nuts, pecans, flax seeds, walnuts, cashews, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds and almonds.
  • Cruciferous vegetables: these contain large quantities of vitamin E, which plays a pivotal role in shielding the body from the pro-inflammatory substance cytokines. Cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and similar green leafy vegetables are good inclusions to your diet.
  • Whole grains: these have been shown to reduce levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammation marker found in the blood. Brown rice, bread and pasta also contain more fibre than their white equivalents. [16]

Endometriosis and Diet Books

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