The first week in this month was the week for creating awareness about endometriosis, and it was quite an enlightening week for me, especially where the subject was concerned.
Even though I knew one of the Sister Sister twins, Tia and Tamera Mowry, deals with the condition, I was pleasantly surprised when Nicole passed along some information about how she keeps the condition under control and has even gone on to become a mom to a 5 year old boy, all the while dealing with the condition. Her method was obviously a natural treatment for endometriosis, outside of surgery and pills, which have become standard approach. I was intrigued, and wanted to learn more about it. So, I did.
With this condition, tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. In spite of the fact that they grow outside of the womb, the ebb and flow of estrogen throughout a woman’s cycle works on this external endometrial tissue, just as it does on the uterine lining, inciting growth when estrogen levels are high.
This is fine for the endometrial tissue within the uterus, but not for the endometrial tissue in the pelvic or abdominal cavity or any other parts of the body, other than the uterus. It can cause severe pain, unusual bleeding and damage to other organs, including the bowel and bladder, and even lead to infertility. The pain can be so severe, that some women spend a day or more a month in bed, or in the hospital.
In the case of Tia Mowry-Hardict (she’s the twin sister without the mole), she was first diagnosed with endometriosis in 2006, after she began to experience severe abdominal pain.
Mowry underwent laparoscopic surgery. Then just two years later, she was doubling over in pain once again. She underwent a second surgery. She started taking birth control pills, in addition to pain relief pills to manage her symptoms.
However, it was just a life of pills and more pills for her. According to the 38 year old, she was frustrated that there wasn’t a more permanent solution.
She also knew she wanted to have a baby, and that her condition could make it difficult. That was when she became desperate and wanted to try some other ways to “heal” her condition.
When her doctor suggested overhauling her diet, Mowry was in. She felt hopeful, but admitted that it was a really hard route for her, because she was stuck on meals that were not really good for her at all.
For the diet overhaul, she had to eliminate dairy, processed meats, packaged snacks, and refined sugar. And instead, began to fill her plate with plants (think leafy greens, fruits, nuts, and seeds), fermented foods, and high-quality protein (including beans, organic animal products, and organic, grass-fed meat). Mowry also added sea vegetables, like kelp and nori; and for her sweet tooth, she moved on to what she called “safer sweets,” date sugar, and honey.
Her new diet drastically reduced her pain, Mowry says. (She also stopped getting migraines, and her eczema cleared up.) “I started to feel deeply, thrillingly alive. For the first time in my life, I understood the concept of profound ‘wellness.’”
Again, this relief came as a result of Tia overhauling her diet.
Although, few studies on endometriosis and lifestyle focus on whether certain diets or levels of activity are connected to endometriosis, they are not focused on whether diets and activities improve endometriosis-related symptoms.
So, while there is not enough scientific backing, Tia’s story and the approach of some medical practitioners show that making lifestyle changes, like overhauling your diet, could go a long way in relieving symptoms.
Another champion of a change in diet in helping with symptoms of endometriosis is Jessica, who had made changes to her diet as a last ditch attempt before deciding to go under the knife for a hysterectomy.
And that was all she needed to do too see some significant changes, as she puts it, “I switched to a whole-food, plant-based diet with a focus on reducing inflammatory foods. My chronic pain, fatigue, urinary problems, nausea, and painful bowel issues went away, and I became a much happier (and nicer) person. And I was able to skip the hysterectomy.
While diet change worked for me, I can’t guarantee that it’ll work for everyone. My hope is that by sharing my story (and an alternative that none of my doctors ever told me about), that I can help people out there who feel like they’ve run out of options. And whether you have endometriosis or not, simply reducing inflammatory foods and adding more plants to your diet can help your overall health and wellness.”
If you will note, both Tia and Jessica have basically turned vegan, but you need not become one, which can be a herculean task in this our meat-loving clime. You just need to reduce your intake of those food items or, better still, look for less ‘chemicalised’ versions of the food items, which may be a case of looking for a needle in a hay sack, but you can still give it a try.
The food items that worsen the symptoms of endometriosis have been termed inflammatory foods. Some of these foods include:
- Processed and packaged foods
- Gluten, white bread, and wheat
- Dairy products
- Meat (especially red and processed meats)
- Fried foods
And you can build your endo-friendly diet around the tips below:
- Build your meals around a vegetable course, not a meat course. Instead of pork chops with spinach on the side, sauté a huge amount of spinach and dice a bit of pork into it for the protein.
- Eat Iron-rich foods. With endometriosis you may experience heavy bleeding, so replacing lost iron is important.
- Magnesium-rich foods also help soothe the uterus and reduce pain. These include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, black beans, avocado, almonds, bananas, chard and spinach.
Making these changes can be a gradual process, so it doesn’t get overwhelming. But making these changes will go a long way in improving the lifestyle quality of women suffering from endometriosis.
After all, it is said that by two or three witness, a case shall be established. I hope I have made my case with Tia and Jessica’s examples.
Even though it is not a one-size fits all scenario, eating healthy cannot harm anyone.
Mama, you are stronger than the pain!
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