Strengthen your immune system, guard against inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases, counter the effects of oxidative stress… Anti-inflammatory diets have already demonstrated their many benefits. Recently, it would also have become an avenue to explore to relieve endometriosis.
What is the link between diet and endometriosis?
As a reminder, this disease which affects 1.5 to 2.5 million women in France is characterized by the abnormal proliferation of endometrial cells outside the uterus. Cells which will then cause lesions on the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, but also on other organs such as the intestine, the stomach, the bladder and the kidneys. These lesions most often cause intense pain in the pelvic region, digestive disorders, migraines, sometimes causing real psychological distress and affecting mental health.
Today, medicine is not yet able to determine the origin of this disease. “The studies are quite contradictory. Psychological or hereditary causes are currently being explored, but even the nature of the lesions is not certain,” explains Jennifer Aubert, dietitian specializing in endometriosis.
Food would also be a possible cause. Nowadays, the latter is rich in fatty and processed products. We now know that these foods promote many diseases, including inflammatory diseases. At the moment, it has not been proven that the foods consumed cause endometriosis, but what is certain is that adopting new eating habits could alleviate the symptoms. In this area, the anti-inflammatory diet seems to prove itself.
Anti-inflammatory food, késako?
By definition, this diet excludes inflammatory products and encourages the consumption of anti-inflammatory foods.
First, we try to eliminate industrial and processed preparations, and all products with a high glycemic index such as breakfast cereals or white bread. Also avoid red meats, cold cuts, fat sources of omega-6 (butter, cream, coconut oil, sunflower oil, etc.), alcohol and sugar. Jennifer Aubert also warns against fructose. “We often hear that rather than using sugar, it is better to sweeten with honey or agave syrup. It’s not necessarily a better alternative, since they both contain fructose. However, we know that this carbohydrate naturally present in fruits can promote inflammation, if consumed in excess. Better to opt for brown sugar, coconut, or possibly vanilla and cinnamon to flavor your preparations. »
In this category, we find fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, oilseeds, white meats, fatty fish and eggs. The anti-inflammatory diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet by giving pride of place to raw products and omega-3s. Also include starches “with a low and medium glycemic index for starches like rice and potato.”
Another important point, the expert advises “to consume good quality food, organic if possible, and from short circuits. »
What about gluten, lactose and soy?
If it can be beneficial to eliminate the first two, the dietician wishes to specify that it is not obligatory. “If you search the Internet, you would have to delete almost everything. But in fact, few of my patients have removed gluten and lactose, and usually it is because they are allergic or intolerant to them. As a doctor, I made the choice to leave as many doors open as possible so as not to fall into a restrictive diet. If I suspect that gluten and lactose are causing major digestive upset, then I suggest eliminating it for a while to see if there is an improvement. Then, it is gradually reintroduced to assess the only tolerance, which is not necessarily zero. »
As for soy, accused of containing large amounts of estrogen, the dietician specifies that it “does not contain estrogens, but phytoestrogens. The studies on this subject are still contradictory, but a priori, they would be rather beneficial. On the other hand, industrial soy products, such as meat substitutes, are as harmful as the meat itself, since it is processed. »
The anti-inflammatory diet consists of banning the most processed products and those likely to cause inflammation and focusing on foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3s. “The more color on the plate, the better, because it means you have a wide variety of nutrients. »
As for cooking, avoid aggressive cooking on the barbecue and at high temperatures. Conversely, it is necessary to privilege “soft cooking, low temperatures with steam or in foil. To give flavor, the trick will be to use spices. Especially since some like turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties. However, be careful with dietary supplements. They sometimes contain additives, which does not make them any different from processed products,” emphasizes the professional.
Are there any contraindications for this type of diet?
Good news, eating anti-inflammatory is suitable for everyone, including pregnant women. “Finally, it is above all a question of a healthy and balanced diet, based on the quality of the ingredients and not of a restrictive diet”, indicates the doctor. “It’s better to avoid gaps at the beginning, but it’s not forbidden. The whole thing is to remain sufficiently regular”.
It must be understood that this anti-inflammatory diet is not miraculous. If the latter is beneficial on a daily basis, it does not cure the disease. The specialist used to say “to each woman her own endometriosis”, meaning that what works for one, may not work for another. “Above all, don’t take everything you read or hear as gospel. Not only is each case unique, but other factors must be taken into account. Our environment, stress or lack of sleep, sometimes work against us. »
In most cases, it has nevertheless been proven that consuming anti-inflammatory foods limits the expansion of the lesions and considerably reduces the digestive disorders caused by endometriosis. The latter, which can range from bloating, to the alternation between diarrhea and constipation, through violent stomach aches, considerably handicapping women with the disease. In some patients, the use of this type of diet completely eliminated the pain and reduced the attacks, regardless of the intensity of the endometriosis. On the benefits observed, Jennifer is very optimistic: “for the moment, all my patients have seen a significant improvement, sometimes after a few days. ” Although it may seem difficult to set up or maintain over time, the dietician assures us that most of her patients have seen such an improvement in their comfort of life, “that they would not go back for anything in the world, especially after years of medical wandering. Hence the importance of surrounding yourself with endometriosis professionals in your approach. »
A speech and encouraging results that could give hope to many women.
The Endometriosis House