Endometriosis is a problem that affects 5.5 million women in North America. Some of the symptoms include painful periods, including before and after, fatigue, and gastrointestinal upsets, such as diarrhea and/or constipation.
Endometriosis occurs when the sloughed off tissue from the menstrual cycle-the endometrium-reattaches itself somewhere other than the uterine wall. Then just before the menstrual cycle beings, those implants engorge themselves with blood, then release it during the menstrual cycle.
In 2001, Michael T. Bailey and Christopher L. Coe of the University of Wisconsin Harlow Center for Biological Psychology conducted a study of female rhesus monkeys to determine if intestinal microflora had been altered by endometriosis. The results of this study were published in 2002 in the Journal of Human Reproduction. As stated in their findings, “Because of the impact endometriosis can have on the gastrointestinal tract, we sought to compare gut microflora of monkeys with endometriosis to age-matched, healthy females with a particular focus on one genus of bacteria, Lactobacillus.” (Bailey & Coe, 2002, p. 1704)
The study showed that intestinal inflammation was more prevalent in the monkeys with endometriosis. As the seriousness of the endometriosis increases, the endometrial implants attach themselves to the gastrointestinal tract, which increases the amount of pain. When the gastrointestinal tract is inflamed, the profile of the intestinal microflora changes. “Disruption of the intestinal microflora can have adverse health consequences. In addition to aiding with proper digestionÃ¢Â?Â¦the intestinal microflora act as a barrier to gut pathogens by blocking attachment to gut binding sites, which is the first step of pathogenicity.” (Bailey & Coe, 2002, p. 1707) What this means is when the intestinal microflora is in balance, there is less capacity for disease (pathogenicity).
Furthermore, Drs. Bailey and Coe state in their report that the disturbances to the microflora could account for the increased occurrence of Candida albicans overgrowth in women with endometriosis. (Bailey & Coe, 2002, p. 1708).
Because Candida albicans is yeast, it can rapidly grow when fed properly. The way to feed yeast is with products that increase fermentation, such as sugar, products containing yeast, carbohydrates, and vinegar.
For those who may have an overgrowth of the Candida Albicans yeast causing an increase to the monthly endometriosis pain, a special diet which starves the yeast may alleviate some of the pain.
It is a hard diet to follow, but may well be worth it. It is hard because your body craves the foods that feed the yeast-sweets and baked goods in particular. A person with an overgrowth of Candida would have natural cravings for just those items, so a restrictive diet would be just as difficult as a smoker restricting their cigarettes or an alcoholic restricting their alcohol. That “sweet tooth” could just be the yeast saying “feed me, FEED ME!”
It is important to help understand why a diet rich in sugar and other simple carbohydrates literally feeds yeast and promotes the overgrowth of Candida albicans. Yeast feeds on sugars and other foods that allow for fermentation. Carbohydrates can be broken down into sugars in the body and can then be used as food for yeast. A diet which is free of yeast and foods which can be used for fermentation would eliminate the food source for the Candida albicans, thereby causing it to die off.
There are differences of opinion among experts on exactly what should be eliminated and when various foods can be added back. Some doctors say no meat and never allow fruits, while others say fruits can be added back after 2-3 weeks. Some doctors even require a period of “cleansing” or “detoxifying” by eliminating nearly all food. A belief of moderation and an understanding of good nutrition will help in deciding how extreme to be. Dr. William Crook, an expert in the field of yeast and women’s health, has a four step process of elimination, challenge, reassessment and maintenance seems to be the most logical and moderate choice. The following information on the diet comes from Dr. Cook’s book, The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health, published September 2005 by Professional Books.
Foods you can eat during the first three weeks:
Low-carbohydrate vegetables can be freely eaten. The following vegetables contain lots of fiber and nutrients. They can be eaten fresh, frozen, cooked or raw.
Asparagus Beet greens Bell peppers Broccoli
Brussels sprouts Collard greens Cucumbers Daikon
Dandelion Eggplant Cabbage Carrots
Cauliflower Kale Kohlrabi Leeks
Lettuce Mustard greens Okra Onions
Parsley Parsnip Celery Endive
Garlic Radishes Rutabaga Shallots
Snow peas Soybeans Spinach String beans
Swiss chard Tomatoes,Turnips
The following meat, seafood, eggs and other food can be eaten:
Beef, lean cuts Chicken All fish Lamb
Shellfish Tofu Park, lean cuts Tuna
Turkey Veal Wild game
The following nuts, seeds, and oils (unprocessed) can be eaten:
Almonds Brazil nuts Cashews Filberts
Flaxseeds Pecans Pumpkin Seeds Butter in moderation
Oils, cold-pressed and unrefined: Corn, olive, safflower, soy, sunflower, walnut
The following high carbohydrate foods you can eat cautiously:
Artichoke Avocado Beans, peas, Legumes Squash
Fennel Potatoes, sweet Potatoes, white Beets
Cream cheese Hard cheeses Yogurt Barley
Corn Kamut Millet Oats
Rice Spelt Teff Wheat
Amaranth Buckwheat Quinoa
Foods that must be avoided completely are sugar and foods containing sugar, including sucrose, fructose, maltose, lactose, glycogen, glucose, mannitol, sorbitol, galactose, monosaccharides and polysaccharides. Also avoid honey, molasses, maple sugar, date sugar and turbinado sugar.
Avoid packaged and process foods which can contain hidden ingredients. Also avoid all yeast-containing foods or any foods that may contain molds such as breads, pastries, cheeses, condiments and vinegar-containing foods, malt products, processed and smoked meats, mushrooms, melons, dried and candied fruit, and leftovers. Some leftovers can be eaten if they are frozen immediately to prevent the growth of mold.
The only thing you should really drink during this time is bottled water. Absolutely no alchol.
Here are some tips to make the very strict diet a little easier.
1. READ LABELS!! Be familiar with the types of “bad” things to look for when reading labels. No hydogenated fats, no vinegars, no sugar.
2. Sugar-free is a misnomer-if it is made with sugar cane it should not be eaten. Find other sources of sweetener, such as rice syrup.
3. Avoid all fruits for at least the first three weeks, and then add them in slowly. You will be surprised to see how sweet a grape is after going without sugar for three weeks.
4. Get a good yeast-free cookbook. Feast without Yeast, The Yeast Connections Cookbook and the Candida Albicans Yeast Free Cook Book are all good.
5. Go to the grocery store 2-3 times a week to buy your fresh vegetables. Try new things-they might surprise you. Combine eggplant, zucchini, and fresh tomatoes cooked with a little olive oil, and then sprinkled with some sea salt and fresh parsley. Spaghetti squash takes just 10-12 minutes in the microwave. Mix with salt free butter, then sprinkle with your sea salt.
6. Here’s some good ideas for snacks:
? Nuts roasted with sea salt
? No-salt corn tortilla chips with (home-made) guacamole or hummus
? Beef jerky (be sure to find the right kind)
? Brown rice crackers with almond butter
? Soy yogurt with live active cultures
? Soy Delicious
? Sliced red peppers, carrot sticks, and other cut up vegetables
7. For work day cooking, use the crock pot to put in a nice roast with lots of vegetables. It’ll be all done when you get home from work, tired and hungry.
8. Use your countertop grill to cook a pork chop (thin sliced, boneless) and some bell peppers. It’s easy and quick.
Note: Immediately freeze all leftovers to prevent the growth of mold.
9. For good support, check out Dr. William Crook’s Yeast Connection website. There are other good support groups, forums, and information, however, be cautious and avoid overly-hyped products that claim to work miracles.
10. Let others know what you are doing so they won’t tempt you with “goodies”.
And finally, if your doctor does not have details about this diet, contact a good nutritionist who can help you determine your particular dietary needs. This is particularly important if you are pregnant or have other health issues.