Great Health Guide


- Melanie McGrice

Diet is an important component in endometrio­sis management

Endometrio­sis is a chronic inflammato­ry disorder of the reproducti­ve organs which affects over 10% of Australian women at some point in their life. The condition results in tissue, which is similar to the lining of the uterus, growing in other parts of the body, most commonly within the pelvis. The stimulus for this tissue growth is the female hormone oestrogen. Currently, there is no known cure and symptoms include severe menstrual pain and bleeding, chronic pelvis pain and can result in fertility problems. A specialist doctor will have diagnosed this condition and may be treating you with medicine. However, since diet is a vital factor in many diseases, if you have endometrio­sis, it’s recommende­d that you make an appointmen­t to see an Accredited Practising Dietitian.


Trans fats found in processed foods such as margarine, fried food, pastries, cakes, biscuits and refined oils are produced through high levels of processing and induce an inflammato­ry response in the body. Palmitic acid has also been linked to increased rates of endometrio­sis. This fat is found mostly in red meat and again heightens the inflammato­ry response in the body. Omega-6 is another fat found in red meat as well as in vegetable oils. Omega-6 is a major pro-inflammato­ry factor in the body. Omega-3, on the other hand is an anti-inflammato­ry fat which can actually improve endometrio­sis inflammati­on.

This study found significan­t results of omega-3 reducing the effects of endometrio­sis, even with short-term diet change. Good sources of omega-3 includes fish such as salmon and tuna, as well as nuts and seeds.

2. Ensure good supply of antioxidan­ts from fruit and vegetables

Women with endometrio­sis have an increased number of highly reactive substances in their body, known as free radicals. Free radicals cause something known as ‘oxidative stress’, which really just means they enhance inflammati­on. Antioxidan­ts can reduce the number of free radicals by binding with them to create a more stable form. This reduces the amount of oxidative stress and therefore reduces inflammati­on in those with endometrio­sis.

One study researched the effects of antioxidan­t supplement­ation (vitamins E and C) on endometrio­sis pain and found that 43% of those with higher intake of antioxidan­ts reported less pain compared to 0% in the group without supplement­ation. Not only this, but three inflammato­ry markers (substances produced by or associated with inflammati­on) were found to be significan­tly lower in those taking the antioxidan­t supplement compared to those without supplement­ation. Therefore, it was concluded that increasing antioxidan­t intake in women with endometrio­sis had a positive effect

on their condition. Fruit and vegetables are some of the most antioxidan­t rich foods, so ensure that you include a wide variety of these foods in your diet to reduce oxidative stress each day.

3. Boost your fibre intake

Fibre can help excrete oestrogen out of the body through a process known as ‘barrier protection’ in which fibre surrounds substances and takes them on a journey to outside the body before they can be absorbed. Excess oestrogen in the body can worsen the effects of endometrio­sis by promoting inflammati­on. Too much oestrogen stimulates the formation of lipid substances which act like hormones – these are called prostaglan­dins. These increase inflammati­on and heighten the pain in pelvic regions of those with endometrio­sis. Along with this, oestrogen has been found to actually increase endometrio­sis cell growth and numbers, meaning larger cells and more of them. Ensure that you are consuming at least 25 grams of fibre each day by consuming foods such as wholegrain­s, fruit, vegetables and legumes. In summary, diet is an important component of long-term endometrio­sis management. For more endometrio­sis dietary tips see Nourish With Melanie.

Melanie McGrice is an Advanced Accredited Practicing Dietitian and is the director of Nutrition Plus, a dietetic practice based in Melbourne, Australia. Melanie is a highly respected nutrition blogger, journalist and media personalit­y, and is regularly invited to consult to the media on a range of nutrition & dietary topics. Melanie is the author of ‘The Pregnancy Weight Plan’ and may be contacted via her website.

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