One of the commonest health issues facing women of child-bearing age is uterine fibroids.
If you don’t know, they are exactly what they sound like – pesky fibrous growths that develop in the womb.
Fibroids are not usually dangerous. It’s exceedingly rare for them to turn cancerous. Because they can be small (pea-sized) they can even be pretty well behaved and not cause any problems at all, to the point where you might not even know you have one. However they can also grow to be grapefruit sized, and wreak quite a bit of havoc.
From excessive blood loss when menstruating, to constipation, fertility issues, pelvic pain, bloating, pain during sex, increased urinary frequency, and backache, they can sure make their presence felt.
Caused by an excess of estrogen, the good news is, there’s a lot we can do, diet wise, to improve and even eradicate them.
While I have not personally suffered from fibroids, I did have several fibro adenomas in my breasts years ago. These are smaller fibrous lumps, but have the same causes as fibroids. They are fibroids of the breast, if you will. After a couple of years of eating a whole food, plant-based diet, I realised these fibro adenomas that I’d had for ages, were all gone.
Be sure to consult your medical practitioner if you think you have fibroids; and if you are diagnosed, be sure to get their advice on all your options for treating them.
As a vegetarian and vegan nutritional therapist, my advice is usually centred on how to nourish and heal your body with plant-foods. Meat and dairy contain hormones, and fats that can stress the liver, so it is a good idea to at least minimise your intake of animal foods as much as possible, and boost your veg, fruit, legume, bean, wholegrain, nut and seed intake to ensure lots of fibre. However, even if you are not veggie or vegan, my advice still very much applies to you.
There are three KEY dietary changes I would recommend any client with fibroids to make:
1. Eliminate or DRASTICALLY reduce sugars. Sugars mean, well – sugar, alcohol, any product either processed or home made that contains sugar. Sugar causes insulin levels to rise to a point that can inhibit your body from being able to bind and break down excessive estrogen. For times when a sweetener is needed, a touch of maple syrup, or a squirt of brown rice syrup does the trick.
2. Eliminate refined carbohydrates. This mean white flour, white rice, and any product that contains these (bread, pasta etc). White flour and rice are white because they have had the bran and the germ (the goodness) taken out, and consequently they have a similar effect to sugar once in your body. They are easily replaced with wholemeal or whole spelt flour (or one of the many gluten free flours on the market), wholemeal bread and pasta, and brown rice.
3. Ensure an adequate intake of phytoestrogens. These are plant estrogens, which when ingested are believed to have the effect of regulating the body’s estrogen levels, with excess estrogen being eliminated in the urine. Flax seeds and whole grains are excellent sources.
Aside from these dietary recommendations, incorporate some enjoyable exercise into your daily routine if you haven’t already, drink enough water, and supplement with selenium and vitamin E.
Fibroids tend to improve or disappear after menopause, as estrogen levels drop. If this is a long way off for you – take control and fight fibroids with natures own plant power!