March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and here at Grace Private we’re shining a spotlight on this life-changing condition. To help you gain a better understanding of how to manage the symptoms of endometriosis, we spoke with Grace’s resident dietitian, Sharnie Dwyer and asked her a few important questions about what impact diet can have on endometriosis and its symptoms.
Sharnie is a certified Monash University FODMAP dietitian and qualified in optimising dietary intake for management of endometriosis, PCOS and other gastrointestinal conditions.
Sharnie, along with other Grace specialists, takes a holistic approach to care for the women of the Gold Coast and surrounds from our boutique consulting rooms located on site at the Gold Coast Private Hospital.
The answer is yes. As a dietitian I can help you modify your diet to manage and minimise endometriosis symptoms. But, before I go on, let me share more details about this condition.
Endometriosis is a condition that causes inflammation, smooth muscle contraction and nerve sensitisation that can lead to pain and gut dysfunction. If you have endometriosis the tissue similar to that which normally lines the uterus grows in other parts of the body, usually in the pelvic cavity.
During a period, the tissue outside the uterus also bleeds. This bleeding causes inflammation, scar tissue, cysts and adhesions. Over time the scar tissue increases and can immobilise or fuse organs and possibly cause damage to the fallopian tubes. One important thing I want every woman to remember is that each individual will experience endometriosis symptoms differently, but the severity of your symptoms doesn’t correlate with the severity of your condition.
That’s why it’s so important to be supported by a team of specialists, so you can manage each component of your individual condition. Your gynaecologist, GP, a dietitian and a pelvic health physiotherapist are pivotal in managing all aspects of your endometriosis.
Unfortunately, right now there isn’t a cure for endometriosis. In more severe cases, some women may need to take medication or have a laparoscopy. Alternatively, if it’s suitable you can try herbal remedies, acupuncture, exercise, changes in diet and reducing stress to relieve symptoms of endometriosis.
If your condition requires further investigation, our gynaecologists at Grace Private specialise in minimally invasive surgery with minimal scarring so you can still wear your bikini post surgery.
As a dietitian I can help you modify your diet and manage the symptoms of endometriosis.
There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to managing endometriosis symptoms. I believe every woman deserves to be treated as an individual and I provide personalised care, advice and guidance to help you deal with the specific symptoms of endometriosis you experience.
During your visit I will assess all your dietary components through a nutrition assessment, biochemical analysis (blood tests) and learn more about the symptoms you experience. This gives me a good understanding of your current diet and condition.
Endometriosis is hormone dependent and relies upon oestrogen. So, it’s important to know that when diet and metabolic function are altered, it can play a huge role in hormone production, metabolism and can influence the growth of endometrial cells.
Certain dietary factors have been known to influence endometriosis and promote inflammation that causes nerve sensitivity and increased pain. Diet has also been shown to impact gut dysfunction and IBS related symptoms associated with endometriosis.
There is some evidence that FODMAP diets can help manage endometriosis, however, I don’t recommend completely eliminating components of your diet, as this often results in key nutrients being sacrificed and then you risk becoming deficient in other areas.
Instead, I will help you modify your diet to reduce the severity of your symptoms and recommend foods that provide the most benefits.
Excessive consumption of the following foods can lead to increased inflammation, pain and gastrointestinal upset:
Following strict diets is challenging, however you can modify your diet to manage symptoms of endometriosis. As a dietitian I believe eating right is essential, for both endometriosis and your overall health. It can play a huge role in managing your condition and help you reduce the severity of some symptoms.
If you have endometriosis you should be eating a diet high in:
Antioxidants work to help protect us from the free radicals. Foods which are rich in antioxidants may reduce inflammation. I always recommend my endo patients to eat a diet rich in antioxidants.
Some antioxidant-rich foods include blueberries, strawberries, goji berries, raspberries, kale, artichoke, grapes, garlic, onions, dark chocolate, pecans, red cabbage, beans, beetroot and spinach.
Omega-3 fats are so important. They have anti-inflammatory properties and are great for reducing inflammation that comes with endometriosis.
Omega-3 fats can be found in oily fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts and soybeans. Other food which contains smaller quantities of omega-3 fats include eggs, meats, dairy products, hemp seeds and vegetables like spinach and brussel sprouts.
Dietary fibre doesn’t only aid in maintaining a healthy digestive system, it also helps flush excess oestrogen from the body. It binds to the oestrogens and inhibits their reabsorption. Try to eat low GI fruits and vegetables and wholegrains to up your dietary fibre intake.
I’m passionate about helping every woman live their best life and during your consultation I will share valuable advice and guidance to help you manage the symptoms you experience with endometriosis.
You can book an appointment with me as soon as you are diagnosed (no referral needed) and I will be by your side to help you manage your diet and ensure you’re eating right throughout your endo journey.