Endometriosis – can lifestyle changes help?
Do you have endometriosis – or know someone that does? A staggering 1 in 10 women in the UK are thought to currently suffer from this chronic and deliberating condition, with many – on average – waiting eight years to get a full diagnosis. But can lifestyle changes really help with endometriosis?
Here, nutritional health coach, Hayley Ray, discusses living with endometriosis. She also reveals the crucial role that nutrition and lifestyle can play in its treatment.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an inflammatory, hormonal condition. It’s where endometrial cells that are normally found inside the uterus grow elsewhere in the body. Over time, this results in a build-up of scar tissue that has nowhere to go, becoming trapped in the pelvis. The most common symptoms for endometriosis are painful periods, bowel or urinary problems, and in some cases, infertility.
In the past, I’ve suffered with endometriosis and its symptoms. Through my training as an Integrative Nutritional Health Coach (IIN INHC), I’ve learned how to manage my endometriosis through adjustments to my lifestyle. Gone are the days of feeling faint and sick, or suffering from pain that’s left me bedridden for days.
Choosing to eat and live is a way of life. With some planning, the suggested points can – over time – help to bring long-lasting, positive and sustainable changes that can help to reduce inflammation, support healthy hormone levels, and assist the body’s processes through nutrition, supplementation and holistic therapies.
The key to making changes is to do so slowly. I also recommend seeking further medical advice before trying any new treatment, or if you think you may have the condition.
Lifestyle changes to help endometriosis
Choose healthy foods
Although there’s no current cure for endometriosis, it can be helpful to include foods that are nourishing and low-inflammatory – the Mediterranean style of eating works well. Not only will you be eating leafy greens, grass-fed meat, poultry and fish, you’ll be getting vital nutrients that assist towards the healing process by reducing the inflammation that endometriosis triggers.
Eliminating certain foods from your diet can have a significant improvement towards the pain management when dealing with endometriosis. This might include gluten, dairy, processed foods, refined sugars, and caffeine.
Start off by removing these food triggers for a minimum period of six weeks and write down any observations that you discover for improvements in pain management. The key to making changes is to do so slowly. Seek advice from a specialist before trying any new nutrition adjustments.
Fill up with fibre
Fibre is great – especially when estrogen is playing havoc with hormones. High estrogen production is frequently seen as a feature of endometriosis. Fibre is helpful for supporting daily bowel movements, which are vital for removing excess estrogen within the body.
Introducing chia, flax or hemp seeds in a morning smoothie is a simple way to boost your intake of nutrients and fibre. What’s more, you’re also getting the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, which aid to support the reduction of the painful symptoms endometriosis causes.
When dealing with endometriosis, supplements can help to provide extra support to body and to the overall healing process. B-vitamins, magnesium glycinate, zinc, and cod liver oil can be helpful to assist in bringing hormones back into harmony, helping to reduce the inflammatory response that endometriosis triggers.
Practice good sleep hygiene
Sleep acts as the golden thread that ties our health and bodies together. Sleep deprivation can cause havoc with our hormones, and not to mention the metabolic changes it creates.
I recommend limiting blue light exposure from phones and screens around an hour or two before sleeping. Blue light blocks the ability of our body to produce the hormone melatonin. This hormone makes us feel sleepy in the evening. Keep technology out of your bedroom too. This creates a sacred space for sleeping and reduces the temptation to scroll social media before bedtime.
Another great practice is to introduce sleepy teas with homeopathic herbs to help aid support a good night’s rest.
Get enough sunlight
Within the first hour of waking, try to get outside and go for a walk. Exposure to daylight for 10 to 15 minutes can help to regulate the production of different hormones that are crucial for keeping our circadian rhythm in check. It supports the overall production of cortisol, a hormone that helps us to feel alert throughout the day.
Over time, you may notice your sleep hygiene improve. You may experience a reduction in inflammation and chronic swelling too. This can help to decrease the level of pain felt with the symptoms of endometriosis.
Coping with stress
Learning how to cope with stress is crucial. We can attribute many illnesses within the body as being created from stress. Stress causes an increased level of inflammation. Higher levels of inflammation will contribute towards more painful symptoms of endometriosis.
Breathing techniques, yoga and meditation have all been linked to lowering levels of stress.
I also recommend holistic practices such as acupuncture. This can be a great way to support the physical and mental challenges that go hand in hand with endometriosis.
Get your body moving
Movement helps to ease tension throughout your monthly cycle. Reformer Pilates, yoga and resistance training focus on a full range of motion that support the abdomen, hips and pelvis. These physical activities will also encourage the release of endorphins that help us to feel good.
By introducing movement, you’ll see how these practices can support your overall mobility. They may also help to reduce cramping within the pelvic floor and abdomen that are commonly present when dealing with endometriosis.
About Hayley Ray
Hayley Ray is a fully certified and qualified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, credited by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN INHC).
She specialises in women’s health, endometriosis, hormone balancing and weight management through bespoke nutritional plans with a holistic approach in healing naturally, while supporting you to become your most radiant self.
Featured in Happiful Magazine, Glamour, and BBC to name a few, Hayley is passionate in supporting you thrive in all areas of your health, while creating positive and lasting changes to life style habits. She will help you optimise your health and get your skin glowing through tailored nutrition plans, supplementation recommendations, and lifestyle changes that will leave you glowing from the inside-out all while helping you to thrive to be the healthiest version you can be.