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Endometriosis and the anti-inflammatory diet

PAIN: The effects of endometriosis can be debilitating, but the cause of the condition is not known

WITH MARCH officially being Endometriosis Awareness Month, it is clear from the statistics that more education is needed. Life & Style delves deeper into the life-changing disorder to bring you the crucial signs and symptoms for diagnosis and treatment.

What is endometriosis?
Not much is known about endometriosis, which is why it can be difficult to diagnose. The exact cause has not been identified – causing frustration for those living with the condition. Endometriosis is a common condition where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb (the endometrium) is found outside the womb.

These pieces of tissue can be found in many different areas of the body, including:
• The ovaries and fallopian tubes
• Outside the womb
• The lining of the inside of the abdomen
• The bowel or bladder

The condition is estimated to affect around two million women in the UK. Most of them are diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 40.

The most common symptoms include:
• Painful periods or heavy periods
• Pain in the lower abdomen (tummy), pelvis or lower back
• Pain during and after sex
• Bleeding between periods
• Difficulty getting pregnant
• Persistent exhaustion and tiredness
• Discomfort when going to the toilet
• Bleeding from your back passage (rectum) or blood in your poo
• Coughing blood – but only in rare cases when the endometriosis tissue is in the lung

The first step is to visit your GP, who will refer you to a specialist gynaecologist.

An internal pelvic exam or ultrasound scan will be done to look for cysts in your ovaries that may have been caused by endometriosis. Endometriosis can only be confirmed with a surgical examination called a laparoscopy.

This is carried out under general anaesthetic, where you are put to sleep and can usually go home the same day. During the procedure, a small biopsy will be taken for laboratory testing, or other surgical instruments can be inserted to treat the endometriosis.

The symptoms of endometriosis can often be managed with painkillers and hormone medication, which can help prevent the condition interfering with your daily life. However, there is no known cure. Patches of endometriosis tissue can sometimes be surgically removed to improve symptoms and fertility.

HELPING HAND: Leafy green vegetables, including spinach, can help alleviate symptoms

Anti-inflammatory Diet
Diet has a big part in controlling endometriosis symptoms and simply cutting certain foods out can greatly alleviate pain.

Foods such as meat, fish, chicken and anything highly processed can flare up symptoms and should be avoided.

The following anti-inflammatory foods should be consumed regularly:
• Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, chard, turnip greens, etc
• Fruit (especially blueberries)
• Vegetables – particularly sweet potato, mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, tomatoes, avocado, asparagus • Dates and dry figs
• Wholegrain brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, oats
• Raw nut butter
• Seaweed
• Herbal teas, such as ginger, peppermint or liquorice
• Apple cider vinegar
• Sauerkraut and kimchi
• Coconut kefir
• Green juices and smoothies
• Herbs and spices, such as ginger and turmeric
• Sprouts
• Raw nuts and seeds
• Celery juice first thing on an empty stomach
• Plenty of water.

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