Thursday, October 29, 2009

Diet for Fibroids, Endometriosis and PCOS

I wanted to talk a little this week about particular fertility conditions and diet.

FYI: Even if you’re on a fertility diet, it’s always a good idea to check in with a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doctor). Knowing your particular medical diagnosis or circumstances gives you greater power in making treatment options for yourself.

The Fertile Kitchen™ diet, which is all organic and basically no sugar, wheat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, trans fats, processed foods – to list a few features – benefits your health in general and optimizes your fertility regardless of fertility diagnosis. Even if you have blocked tubes and can thereby only get pregnant via IVF, such a diet will still give your body the best chance for success.  As long as you can produce eggs or carry them, nutrition will make a difference! With this in mind, here are some particular dietary recommendations for the following conditions:

It is relevant to note that fibroid growth is stimulated by estrogen. Dr. Christine Northrup has some great information on holistically treating fibroids on her website, which I recommend you check out. Here is an excerpt related to diet:

“Since the uterus is estrogen–sensitive, any dietary or alternative approach that counteracts estrogen dominance often works for fibroids. …Eating a diet high in protein and healthy fats and low in high-glycemic carbohydrates such as sugar and starch can help. "White" foods like sugar and starch increase insulin, which changes the way estrogen is metabolized, creating compounds that are more likely to cause cellular inflammation and fibroid symptoms, including enhanced growth of existing fibroids.”

Again, here is an excerpt from Dr. Northrup’s wonderful website:

“Anything that improves immune system functioning and increases the flow of energy in the body is apt to help [with endometriosis]. ...A whole foods, eicosanoid–balancing diet high in fiber that avoids trans fats can provide dramatic relief from symptoms of endometriosis. Many women have had remarkable pain relief from simply stopping consumption of dairy foods, eggs and red meats. Also avoid caffeine. Be sure to eat one to two servings daily of cruciferous vegetables, such as kale, collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, cabbage, and turnips (or take a supplement containing Indole-3-Carbinol, the active ingredient in these vegetables). Additionally, a diet rich in phytohormones, such as those found in soy foods, helps endometriosis by blocking estrogen receptors from excess stimulation.

PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome)
This is basically a metabolic disorder, or, as this website put it: “a condition in which the ovaries secrete abnormally high amounts of androgens (male hormones) that often cause problems with ovulation.”

A balanced diet is important. You also want to avoid foods that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, and esp. doing so on a regular basis, which can lead to insulin resistance. The foods to avoid are processed sugar and refined carbs. An excerpt from

“High intakes of carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates (i.e., sweets, white bread, white rice, etc.) will quickly turn to sugar and cause elevated levels of insulin. Since high levels of insulin can cause a multitude of problems for women with PCOS, a better diet would be a low glycemic index diet. This is a diet that includes foods or combinations of foods that do not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.”

So eat carbohydrates in combination with protein or healthy fats as opposed to by themselves.

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