The Endo Diet Explained

The Endo Diet Explained

The Endo Diet Explained

Chloe Hodder

Founder, Green Body Mojo

 

Since endometriosis is an inflammatory disease, an anti-inflammatory diet is a pretty good place to start.

Beyond what it says on the tin, an anti-inflammatory diet can help to:  

  • Strengthen the immune system; key, since endometriosis is rooted in immune dysfunction.
  • Support the liver; notably to remove excess oestrogen.
  • Restore gut health; the foundation of a happy, healthy body.

An anti-inflammatory diet played a major role in giving my body the opportunity to heal fully from chronic fatigue and help me get my endometriosis under control.

The Belly of the Beast

The pain forged by endometriosis can feel as if your body is punishing you.

That’s not the intention; your body actually trying to communicate with you.

…Much like my springer spaniel when he’s bounding around the house with my favourite jacket between his teeth – he just wants attention. 

When you’re curled up in a fetal position, feeling as if you’re going to pass out from the pain, sure, pain can seem like the problem. Believe I understand.

…But when we take painkillers or synthetic hormones, these tune out the pain and mask the true problem.

We may not be able to hear it so well anymore, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone away.

Every drug has a side-effect, and being free from pain is the utmost priority, for me, I regarded these as short-term relief rather than a long-term solution.

NSAIDS: The Painful Truth Behind Painkillers (Infographic)

Pain is a messenger, and so stopped relying on painkillers and started to listen. 

The more I developed an understanding of my body, the more I could help it. 

I learned that there are three main factors that influence endometriosis: 

  1. Immune dysfunction 
  2. Chronic inflammation 
  3. Hormone imbalance

…All of which we can do something about, through:

  • An anti-inflammatory diet
  • Relaxation: turning on the PSN (parasympathetic nervous system) so that your body is in a state of rest and rejuvenation. 
  • Pain-relief techniques
  • Herbal remedies to restore order
  • Movement to connect to your body and improve flow

In this post, we’ll focus on diet and chronic inflammation.

 

Does your diet fuel or fatigue you?

 

 

Food can either fuel us or fatigue us.

Think of your cells as rechargeable batteries. They have the potential to replenish over and over again.

As we get older, our recharge rate gradually lessens. While the ageing process is perfectly natural, it isn’t the only factor that affects our ability to renew cells.

Chronic inflammation increases the rate of ‘wear and tear’ on cells, putting the body under extra strain and depleting resources.

So if you feel like life’s a treadmill and you can’t keep up the pace, it’s no wonder!

Chronic inflammation is the result of a number of different factors, namely diet, activity levels, stress levels and exposure to toxins.

At least two-three times a day we have an opportunity to fuel ourselves.

Our choices of food either increase our charge or decrease it.

The more you can keep charged up by choosing anti-inflammatory foods, the more resources you have to put towards healing.

So is this a diet-diet?

Giant corporations, mainstream media and die-hards have taken the word “diet” and attached a boatload of emotional baggage to it.

The use of the word “diet” here simply means the following: The kinds of foods habitually eaten.

This is not about counting calories, measly portion sizes or joining a food-cult.

The Endo Diet is a celebration of real food; foods that give the body what it needs to be strong, balanced and full of energy.

 

Foods I love:

  • Vegetables (especially cruciferous)
  • Berries & fruits (fruits to a lesser degree)
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Pseudo-grains (buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa & wild rice)
  • Beans & legumes
  • Sea vegetables
  • Fermented foods
  • Sprouted seeds
  • Herbs and spices such as garlic and ginger

These foods come under the heading of “whole foods”; foods in their complete state, as nature intended.

What’s the big deal about whole foods?

The simplest way to describe the benefits of whole foods is with the saying, “There’s no I in team”.

While whole foods are well known for their complex array of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and other health-promoting properties, it’s not just what they contain that important, but how these properties work together.

For example, if not careful, vitamins and minerals that are taken in isolation (through supplements) can upset the body’s delicate symbiosis, leading to a deficiency elsewhere.

Further still, the less well-known enzymes, amino acids and trace minerals are often left out. 

There is so much we don’t know, but what we can trust in is that nature has provided us with everything we need to thrive.

The Endo Diet Explained

The benefits of whole foods:

  • Contain antioxidants that help fight free radical damage.
  • Provide an array of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to nourish you on a cellular level.
  • Are a form of complex carbohydrates that provide slow release energy and don’t cause blood sugar highs and lows.
  • A source of fibre to help you feel full as well as aiding digestion and providing fuel for the good bacteria in the colon.
  • Come in a wide variety of options to keep things interesting.
  • Tasty
  • Colourful
  • Help foster a connection to the earth.

 Foods I leave out:

  • Heavily processed foods and all those containing additives
  • Animal products (with the exception of pure, cert. organic honey)
  • Drinks that contain alcohol, caffeine, artificial ingredients or fruit juice (the sugar in fruit is best consumed with its fibre)
  • Refined sugar
  • Wheat/gluten
  • Cereal grains
  • Rancid oils
  • Soy

These foods are regarded as inflammatory; they can cause disruption to hormone levels, increase prostaglandins (more on that below), feed the bad bacteria and contribute to fatigue and chronic inflammation.

The effect of inflammatory foods in endometriosis:

The aptly named SAD (Standard American Diet) of processed, fried and refined foods is indicative of many modern diets and a major contributor to the rising levels of inflammatory disease.

The Standard American Diet is Even Sadder
Than We Thought… 

.

 

  • 63% of America’s calories come from refined and processed foods (e.g. soft drinks, packaged snacks like potato chips, packaged desserts, etc.)
  • 25% of America’s calories come from animal-based foods
  • 12% of America’s calories come from plant-based foods

Unfortunately, half of the plant-based calories (6%) come from french fries. That means only 6% of America’s calories are coming from health-promoting fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

 

Forks Over Knifes

Yikes.

While you may not lead a McLifestyle, there’s no getting away from the fact that our foods are being tampered with. 

Rates of chronic and inflammatory diseases have taken a sharp rise over the last 100 years¹, which directly correlates with the modernisation of our lifestyles ² and a move from good, honest food into ‘Phood’ (processed foods).

The result of which leaves many of us “overfed and undernourished” and in a state of chronic inflammation.

An inflammatory diet can exacerbate the symptoms of endometriosis for a number of reasons.

1. Being ‘inflamed’ is inherently uncomfortable.

Inflammation is initiated upon tissue injury and sets off a cascade of biochemical reactions that prime the nervous system for pain sensing.

.

 

 

Moreover, long-term inflammation reinforces adaptive changes in the nervous system that can cause the sensation of pain to become exaggerated or inappropriate.

.

 

Life Extension

2. Being in pain opens the door to more pain.

After not having to resort to NSAIDS for four cycles, I was suddenly hit with a painful one. Having trapped a nerve in my neck, my diet had taken a decline, plus I was extremely stressed out at the time. My medical herbalist told me, “The more pain there is, the more pain you will have.”

An inflammatory diet puts the body under consistent stress, and the more stressed you are, the more sensitive and receptive you can be to pain.

Being in a state of stress doesn’t just take an emotional toll, it affects your physiology too; the way you carry your body, muscles tense and knotted, and with shallow breathing…

Stress can escalate the endometrial pain.

Diet is not the one answer to de-stressing your body, but it is a major influencer. 

Natural Methods for Preventing Pain Escalation in Endometriosis (coming soon)

3. Increased levels of inflammatory prostaglandins correlate to the amount of menstrual pain experienced.

Shortly before a period begins, the endometrial cells that form the lining of the uterus make large amounts of prostaglandins. When these cells break down during menstruation, the prostaglandins are released. They constrict the blood vessels in the uterus and make its muscle layer contract, causing painful cramps. Some of the prostaglandins also enter the bloodstream, causing headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

 

Researchers have measured the amount of prostaglandins produced by the endometrial cells and found that it is higher in women with menstrual pain¹ than for women who have little or no pain. 

 

pcrm.org

Diet is the kingpin in the production of prostaglandins – reduce inflammatory prostaglandins and you can reduce pain.

Prostaglandins & Menstrual Pain (coming soon)

What’s Next?

Start today by looking at your current diet – are you eating more foods that fall in “love it” or “leave it” list?

Let me know more about your diet, either in the comments section below or on the Facebook group, and I will help you to make yummy substitutions!

The FAQ post will be posted this week so stay tuned for that. 

Subscribe below to be notified of posts as and when they are published 🙂

 

 

~ Further reading ~

Words Your GP Didn’t Let You Finish #endometriosisawareness

Words Your GP Didn’t Let You Finish #endometriosisawareness

Words Your GP Didn't Let You Finish

#endometriosisawareness

Chloe Hodder

Founder, Green Body Mojo

If you have endometriosis or dysmenorrhea (painful periods), you’re probably a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to pain.

The word “pain” is a Pandora’s Box. Those four letters encapsulate so very much.

Inuit’s captured our imagination with their reported “Hundred Words for Snow”, but we too have different words for it – ask any skier or mountaineer. 

Yet pain is just, well, pain.

This is one of the pivotal problems we encounter when visiting the GP – it’s hard to get across your degree of pain. Their Scale of 1-10 is entirely subjective and you end up being demoted from “9 – my limbs are accounted for” to “a bit of a tummy ache”.

…This is not exclusive to male GP’s (though that line was a corker after I had been curled up in fetal position on the bathroom floor, shaking, vomiting, wet through from sweat and close to passing out). Sadly, I’ve known some uterus-bearing GP’s to be more dismissive, those who “have period pain too and just get on with it”. 

GP’s are under pressure, I appreciate that, but the pain of endometriosis can be extreme and that is not to be ignored.

Painkillers can be used as a stop-gap, as it is hard-impossible to function when you’re in pain, but I don’t believe in using them long term without first exhausting all other options.

Further reading: NSAIDS – The Painful Truth Behind Painkillers

The long and short of it?

Pain(ful periods) need to be investigated.

Recent research shows that there is now an average of 7.5 years between women first seeing a doctor about their symptoms and receiving a firm diagnosis.

endometriosis-uk.org

My diagnosis took over a decade.

…Yet, my symptoms of an acute attack were extreme.

  • Vomiting
  • Feverish (hot and drenched in sweat)
  • Prolonged period (mind the pun) of faintness.
  • Becoming unconscious on a number of occasions (and, again, prolonged unconsciousness, not just momentary).
  • Barely able to move.

…And then there was the pain.

  • The deep-seated pain that felt as if it were radiating out of my very my bones, like a constant low-level hum.
  • The sharp stabbing pain that felt like a frenzied attack.
  • The heavy pain that pulled me down to the ground, literally.
  • The toxic pain that felt as if my body was waging war on itself.
  • …And then there was the cramping pain that felt like my insides were twisting into knots. 

I could usually pre-empt an acute attack by the ominous, uneasy feeling that would build, call me Nostradamus, and would have to get myself to a bathroom ASAP to lay on the floor until it passed. The worst of which would burn through in 45 mins – 1.5hrs. 

But during those 2700 – 5400 seconds… All layered up, this became a monstrous pain that felt as if I wouldn’t survive it.

Afterwards, I would feel completely numb as if my body was in shock. It probably was.

This sounds all very melodramatic to anyone that has never experienced their uterus-gone-wild, but this is coming from someone who is pretty darn stoical and thinker-oriented (as opposed to Feely-McFeelerson). 

One time I went to deliver the village postscript to a certain house and their dog ran out and attacked my leg, and I was like, I’ll just leave this in the porch, shall I?

…Then hobbled into the porch with the dog still attached to my leg.

I’m not someone who likes to make a fuss. But I will here because I know I’m not the only one with this experience. 

So for anyone who has ever visited a GP and been patronised over their “bit of tummy ache” or cut off mid-sentence and told to “just take ibuprofen”, I’d like to offer you the space to say what your GP didn’t let you finish. 

…Because if you went to your GP with those symptoms, and left out the part about being on your period, you’d be sent straight to a hospital for tests. 

I was able to eliminate nearly all of my pain through a natural approach – but only after I dealt with it as “endometriosis” rather than “just period pain”.

This pain is not normal and raising awareness will help others to get a quicker diagnosis. So share this post with anyone you know who is quietly suffering and share your experience to help bring about awareness.

~ Further reading ~

Heavy Flow No Mo’ ~ Drink This For a Lighter, Shorter Period!

Heavy Flow No Mo’ ~ Drink This For a Lighter, Shorter Period!

Heavy Flow No Mo'~ Drink This for a Lighter, Shorter Period!

Chloe Hodder

Founder, Green Body Mojo

Heavy Flow No Mo' ~ Drink This For a Lighter, Shorter Period!eavy flow getting you down? 

Whether you have endometriosis or just unruly periods, this wonderful natural remedy can help harmonise your cycle.

Not only are your periods painful, to say the very least, they’re heavy and oh so long.

Month in, month out…

No wonder you feel drained; mentally, physically and emotionally. Not only do you have to prepare for them each month, like an endurance event, you then have to recover from them.

…And by the time you’re regaining your strength, oh here we go again.

I had a window of about a week where I felt strong. As a climber, I could really notice the difference throughout the month.

Climbing during (if possible) or straight after my period… I was like a wet noodle, but even a wet noodle could stick it better than I could.

That window prior to my period though… I was on it, pulling up on those crimps like they were jugs.

I reached the point where I could not let this monthly toll dictate my life anymore.

So, as ever, I turned to research and experiments…

My Favourite Herbal Remedy for a Shorter, Lighter (and less painful) Period

Heavy Flow No Mo' ~ Drink This For a Lighter, Shorter Period!

What I discovered was one particular herbal remedy that had a rather astounding effect.

…and that herbal remedy was raspberry leaf tea.

Raspberry leaf tea has long been used as a ‘women’s herb’ thanks to its ability to tone the uterine and pelvic muscles.

A toned uterus is more effective in contracting during labour, leading to a faster and easier birth. 

Think of it this way – any toned muscle performs better than an untoned muscle.

Not only that, raspberry leaves also work as a relaxant. 

You see where I’m going with this…

As endometriosis pain is often compared to that of labour contractions, raspberry leaf tea harmonises the muscular action of the uterus while also relaxing it, leading to fewer spasms in the first place. This is how it can ease the pain. 

In short, a relaxed uterus is a happy uterus!

While there are different types of pain that forge what we all know and love as endometriosis, toning the uterus may at least relieve this type of pain.

Alternatively, if endometriosis has been ruled out and yet you still have unexplained period pain, toning and relaxing that uterus is a good place to start. See this post here for one reason you may be experiencing painful periods (coming soon).

Raspberry leaves are also a source of magnesium (the Wonder Women of muscle relaxants) and iron (which you need to replenish during bleeding), along with a host of vitamins and minerals including B complex.

…And as if raspberry leaves didn’t do enough already, they also help to detoxify the body of excess hormones, just what you need for rebalancing your cycle!

My Before & After Results

 

The first time I used raspberry leaf tea, my period shrank from 7-8 days to three. 

The flow was much lighter too and with zero bleeding at nighttime. 

While I found that I didn’t need to drink raspberry tea religiously to get these results (at least a few days prior to my period and during it), I have added it to my daily morning routine (within a special endometriosis tea mix) to tone, nourish, relax and cleanse.

Fresh, Dried or Blends?

I purchase dried raspberry leaves rather than raspberry leaf tea bags. You may find a good brand of tea, though I prefer loose raspberry leaf for the following reasons:

  • Herbs bought from a herbalist are generally more potent.
  • The quantity of raspberry leaf in tea bags may not be very high. You can experiment with different quantities of leaf much easier – as opposed to stuffing multiple tea bags into your mug.
  • Dried raspberry leaves are cheaper than tea blends.
  • A packaged tea can contain undesirable ingredients such as caffeine (not what you want when trying to relax) and bleach from the tea bags (yikes).
  • You can make up your own concoctions by adding other herbs and spices to your infuser.

If you have a source of fresh raspberry leaves, you can certainly use those. Ideally, pick leaves daily during the growing season, otherwise, fresh leaves can be stored for up to 5 days. To prepare for out of season, you can pick as many leaves as you can and dry them yourself. 

How To Use Rasberry Leaf Tea

Ingredients:

  • Fresh or dried raspberry leaves
  • Optional: A tea blend, such as the one my medical herbalist recommended for endometriosis, or a caffeine-free herbal tea you like the flavour of such as rooibos. Otherwise, drink as is (delicate and sweet flavoured) or enhance with honey, lemon juice or other herbs or spices like fresh ginger root.

Equipment:

  • A tea maker or infuser

Directions: 

  1. Take a good couple pinches of dried raspberry leaf and drop into your tea maker or infuser. If using fresh leaves, you will need to clean them and then tear, cut or grind the leaves to help release the properties.
  2. Add in extra flavour or herbs as you like.
  3. Pour the hot water in.
  4. Let this steep for at least 5 minutes. Ideally, a few minutes longer if still hot. (The hot water draws out the properties, so it needs to sit.)
  5. Enjoy

So there we have it, raspberry leaves, mother nature’s mercy.

I hope this helps you too. Let me know how you get on with your raspberry leaf tea!

~ Further reading ~

Super Seed Breakfast Bowl

Super Seed Breakfast Bowl

Breakfast

Super Seed Breakfast Bowl

My daily breakfast bowl – it’s sort of like yoghurt with granola, but on superfood ‘steroids’ and easier on the jaw. Recommended by my medical herbalist to reduce excess oestrogen, I added my favourite energy-enhancing, stress-relieving and hormone-balancing superfoods (optional).

Recipe

Super-Seed
Breakfast Bowl

Portion: 1

Ingredients: 

  • 250ml dairy-free yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp seeds (I use sunflower and sesame)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Handful of berries
  • Small handful of almonds
  • 1/2 banana 

Optional:

  • 1-2 teaspoons of psyllium hulls or slippery elm powder*
  • DIY Granola or toppings such as coconut flakes
  • Superfoods of choice such as bee pollen or goji berries.

Instructions:

  1. Ideally, soak the almonds overnight – but don’t let that stop you from having this today.
    .
  2. You can blend some berries with the yoghurt if you’d like (I use frozen berries for blending and fresh for topping), though I enjoy plain yoghurt as it’s good for getting your taste buds attuned to less sugar. Pour your yoghurt into a bowl.
    .
  3. Coarsely grind the seeds, almonds (and psyllium hulls if you’re using them) and then add the ground mixture on top of the yoghurt. (You can use the grinding blade from your blender or coffee grinder.)
    .
  4. Sprinkle any powder you are using (such as slippery elm and or superfood powders) over the ground seed mixture. 

    Serving suggestion: Top with fresh fruit or berries and any superfoods such as bee pollen and goji berries and consume with a turmeric/curcumin supplement.

Turmeric, or specifically curcumin extract, is renowned for its anti-inflammatory effects on the body. As turmeric is fat-soluble, optimise absorption by taking your turmeric or curcumin supplement with fat. This breakfast bowl contains healthy fats in the forms of yoghurt, nuts and seeds.

Health Notes

Digestive Goodness

If heavier foods make you feel fatigued, this is a lightweight option that is easy on the digestive system – in fact, don’t be surprised if it wakes up a sleepy digestive system (chia seeds I’m looking at you).

 

Deconstructed Smoothie

If you’re not keen on chugging a seed and superfood mash-up in smoothies, and I don’t blame you, this is an ideal alternative. Ground seed mix is much nicer to eat with yoghurt and the roughly chopped almonds add just enough crunch. 

Hormone Balancing Seeds

Both sunflower and sesame seeds promote the production of progesterone, which can help to balance the hormone levels – particularly key since endometriosis is linked to an oestrogen dominance.

Ground seeds become rancid quickly
so make fresh daily.

Bee Pollen

Similarly to maca, though perhaps less well known, bee pollen is used as an all-around energy aid and stress-reliever.

It is considered one of nature’s most complete foods as it possesses nearly all the nutrients we require. 

Bee pollen is a source of protein and also contains vitamins (inc. B-complex), minerals, co-enzymes and amino acids.

First-time users are recommended to start with 1 single piece of bee pollen under their tongue to check for any intolerance, before increasing the amount taken the next day.

I purchase my bee pollen from LiveMoor.co.uk, a natural living store that’s just down the road from me on
the edge of Dartmoor.

Contraindications:

Do not use if you are allergic to pollen
or are pregnant.

 

Slippery Elm Powder

A popular ingredient in herbal remedies, slippery elm is touted for its wonderful soothing, strengthening and healing qualities. Plus, the name just makes me laugh every time I hear it, always a good thing!

Contraindications:

If you are on medication, taking slippery elm in tandem can decrease the effectiveness of your medication. 

WebMD recommends taking slippery elm at least one hour after you take your medication to prevent this interaction. 

 

Maca Powder

An adaptogen, maca helps the body to cope with stress and restore overall balance. It’s often suggested for those with adrenal fatigue as it supports the endocrine system and boosts

energy and stamina. 

Contraindications:

Due to maca’s hormone balancing properties, hormone-sensitive conditions can be affected. It’s wise to consult with a medical herbalist or naturopath in this instance.

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Green Body Mojo and its publications are strictly informational and not intended as medical advice, nor a substitution for medical advice. For medical advice, diagnosis and treatment please consult your physician or other qualified health providers. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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