The Endo Diet Explained
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.
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:
- Immune dysfunction
- Chronic inflammation
- 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 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.
- 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
- Cereal grains
- Rancid oils
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.
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.
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.
Diet is the kingpin in the production of prostaglandins – reduce inflammatory prostaglandins and you can reduce pain.
Prostaglandins & Menstrual Pain (coming soon)
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.
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