You have probably heard of, or have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids (fibroids in the uterus or womb). This condition is so common because fibroids are the most common benign (or non-cancerous) tumours experienced by women of reproductive age. Fibroids are benign growths that develop in the areas surrounding the uterus or on the uterus itself. Uterine fibroids range in symptoms and size; some appear very large and can cause pain, discomfort and a host of other symptoms, while some can be small and present little to no symptoms. Studies have shown that 1 out of every 5 women will have fibroids in her lifetime. Current research still hasn’t pinpointed exactly why fibroids occur, but so far it has been shown that chances are higher of developing a fibroid if some family member has suffered the condition. Studies have also suggested that the growth is mostly caused by a hormonal imbalance where there is excessive oestrogen in the body.
Usually, fibroids don’t need treatment especially if they don’t cause problems, as they can shrink and disappear without treatment with some lifestyle changes.
Symptoms of fibroids include:
- Extended, excessive and painful menstruation.
- Pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse.
- Frequent urination.
- Spotting between periods.
- Fullness/bloating in the abdomen.
- Back pains.
Although this has not yet been undisputedly proven, the first steps towards shrinking or treating fibroids is incorporating meals aimed at balancing your hormones into your diets. Foods that contain strong antioxidants, support hormone balancing and decrease inflammation are the best option in the treatment of fibroids while processed, artificial and refined foods should be avoided at all times.
In this article, I will cover foods you should try to avoid if you have been diagnosed with fibroids. Some of these foods listed below don’t do anything to help your excess oestrogen, and may feed the fibroid rather than starve it.
- High Fat Dairy Products.
Dairy products like whole milk and cream are to be avoided as regular intake due to how much artificial hormones they contain. These hormones, including synthetic oestrogen, are fed to cows in order to produce a larger quantity of milk and are not needed in your already oestrogen dominated body. Dairy products are also inflammatory and a poor diet choice for fibroids. Rather than these dairy products, one can choose organic dairy choices or sheep’s milk as they contain less of these problematic hormones. Alternatively, you can switch to plant-based milk such as tiger nut milk, coconut milk or almond milk.
- Processed Red Meat.
Studies have shown that eating too much processed red meat increases the chances of fibroids growing. The reason for this is that this red meat comes from cows fed with oestrogen-rich meals and injected with antibiotics. The extra oestrogen in the cows is then ingested into your body and with your already excessive hormones, this should be avoided. It is recommended that only small amounts of red meat be consumed at strategic times, in a bid to control your oestrogen intake. Alternatively, you could switch to lean white meat such as chicken or duck.
- Caffeine & Alcohol.
Excessive caffeine and alcohol puts a strain on the liver and can affect its effectiveness. The liver deals with processing oestrogen and eliminating excess levels, and when it is not functioning properly, it cannot do its job properly. A few glasses of wine or alcohol can also raise your oestrogen levels by a lot. In addition to this, caffeine represses ovulation, causing over excessive hormones and oestrogen dominance.
- White Foods (Bread, Pasta, etc.)
Foods such as white bread, white rice, cookies, pasta, potatoes and cakes are bad for fibroids as they affect oestrogen metabolism. These foods increase insulin levels, raising blood sugar which leads to hormonal imbalance. Also, these foods are rich in gluten and gluten is inflammatory, causing an unbalance of the microbiome. The microbiome is primarily where oestrogen is processed and any imbalance here is a risk to your fibroids. Instead of these foods, one should opt for whole grains like nuts and seeds, rye, flaxseeds, oats, brown rice, and millet.
- High Glycaemic Foods.
Foods with a high glycaemic index such as sweet baked goods, French baguettes, cereals and white rice are bad for fibroids as they can cause inflammation and aid fibroid growth. Foods with a low glycaemic index such as beans and lentils serve as ideal alternatives.
- Excessively Salted Foods.
Foods that contain a high amount of sugar should be avoided; it is bad for general health and especially unhealthy for women dealing with fibroids. Canned foods and fast foods usually are main sources of excessively salted meals and they should be avoided. Also, minimize your daily intake of salt, don’t sprinkle a little extra on your meals and you can consider healthy alternatives to salt like lemon juice and some herbs.
- Refined Food and Sugar.
Not many nutrients are left in food after they have been refined and when sugar is added to these, there is a big risk factor to your health, even when fibroids are not involved. Consumption of foods which fall under these categories encourages an imbalance in your hormones, which is said to be the number one cause of fibroids. Instant hot cereals and store-bought bread are examples of refined sugar and carbohydrates. Diets treating fibroids should be completely clear of sugar and refined foods, or have a very limited inclusion of these foods.
Soy is commonly known as being all-around beneficial to the health but, for a person suffering from fibroids, consumption of soy can be dangerous. Soy is generally recommended as an alternative for meat or as an inclusion for a diet rich in protein but, soy contains a high amount of oestrogen and fibroids thrive on excessive oestrogen levels. Soy products can be replaced with healthier alternatives such as mushrooms, nuts and cottage cheese. These are much more nutritious and beneficial to your health without any risk of stimulating fibroid growth.
Avoiding the foods listed above should aid in your treatment or prevention of uterine fibroids and when considering long-term, overall health, almost all of these foods have some negative consequences. Choosing not to eat them will definitely be beneficial to your health. Even though Medicine and Science have not yet been able to pinpoint the exact cause of fibroids and fibroid symptoms, one thing everyone agrees on is that the most likely cause is excessive oestrogen levels or oestrogen dominance, and most of these foods aid in multiplying this hormone.
It is also important to note that although food and diet do play a vital role in the treatment/prevention of fibroids, it is important to remember that they are not the only factors to consider when dealing with fibroids. Multiple other factors are involved including exercise, lifestyle, oestrogen levels, hereditary factors and toxicity levels. They all play a part in fibroid growth and should always be considered too.