The internet becomes a huge wild west when it comes to nutrition advice for endometriosis.
Stop getting lost in the endless rabbit hole that is Google and instead focus on this simple framework.
In this episode you will hear:
- Why nutrition matters for you.
- How to cut through the noise and determine what works for YOU!
- What foods to focus on most.
- How to determine your own unique food sensitivities.
- And more!
Connect with Alyssa Chavez:
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About Alyssa Chavez:
Alyssa is an endo and infertility warrior turned Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Restorative Wellness Practitioner. She helps women through her Thrive With Endo 1:1 coaching program to get to the root cause of their endo symptoms or infertility by healing from the inside out and is so passionate about helping women to be able to live their life to its fullest and truly be able to achieve their dreams.
Full episode transcription:
All right. Hello, everybody. Thank you so much for joining me today. We have a really fun episode planned for you all with everything that you need to know about nutrition for endometriosis. Okay, well, maybe not everything, because we will need a whole lot of episodes to go over everything, which will happen over time.
But we are going to dig into the top five things that you need to know. today. So we are going to have a future episode talking about what to actually eat with endometriosis, like an actual diet. Today we’re going to talk more about the important things to know about nutrition so that you can kind of get into that right mindset of where you need to be.
To make the changes that you need to, to feel your very best and to really gain an understanding of what good nutrition really means for you and your own body. So starting out with number one, nutrition isn’t everything, but it is a very crucial piece of the puzzle. Now, nutrition isn’t the only thing.
that we need to be aware of when it comes to endometriosis. Throughout this podcast, we’re going to talk about all kinds of different things from gut health to your mindset to your lifestyle choices to stress management. There’s all kinds of different things that go into play, but nutrition is certainly an important piece of the puzzle and we’re going to take a look at why today.
Now, One thing is taking a look at, okay, which came first, the chicken or the egg, right? Because nutrient deficiencies can contribute to endometriosis symptoms, but then internal stress from endometriosis can also contribute to nutrient deficiencies. So it’s like this vicious cycle that goes on. And as to which started which, who knows?
doesn’t really matter because what we want to look at is looking forward to getting you to your optimum health. So really, what we want to look at is just supporting your body’s nutrition status so that you can be the healthiest that you can be moving forward, right? And I think it’s important to know here too, When you have endometriosis, because there is a lot of internal stress going on in your body, just from the inflammation, from the actual endometriosis lesions, and all the different things going on in your body, you actually need more nutrients than the average individual.
So you may see somebody else, you know, a friend or a family member who’s sitting there eating, you know, McDonald’s for breakfast and chips for lunch and whatever and may still feel okay. And I know sometimes that can, that can make you as an endo warrior feel a little, ah, aggravated, knowing that if you eat the same thing, you’ll feel much, much worse.
But I think that that’s a big piece of the puzzle is just knowing that. When you do have a chronic illness like endometriosis, your body actually physically needs more nutrients, at least while you’re kind of on your healing journey and first starting to figure things out and calm down the inflammation and all of that stuff.
That’s number one. Nutrition isn’t everything, but it is a key crucial piece of the puzzle. Okay, so number two. Food sensitivities contribute to inflammation. Now, it’s really important to note here that Food sensitivities are unique to each individual, right? So, when we’re talking food sensitivities here, I’m not going to give a big blanket statement of everybody with endo needs to avoid these specific foods, because it really does depend on your…
needs, what’s going on in your unique body, what your immune system is reacting to. So in my practice, when I work with my one on one clients, I like to use an MRT, food sensitivity test, which is a, it’s a blood test, so it’s different than some of the over the counter food sensitivity tests that you use, and it actually tests your immune system’s reaction to A whole list of different foods and could kind of get to the root of what might actually be causing you aggravation and might be making your immune system fire up.
Basically, when you’re eating foods that your immune system doesn’t like, which really happens in a large part because of a syndrome called leaky gut, which is kind of a buzzword these days, so you may have heard of that. And basically what that means is that the lining of your intestines, primarily your small intestine, which is actually only one cell…
It’s this lining that protects between the food passing through your intestines and your bloodstream. That lining gets compromised. It gets damaged, right? Which can happen from large, undigested food particles and toxins and other things. But when that happens, now these large food particles are making their way straight towards your bloodstream.
And then when they hit your bloodstream, your body’s going, Oh, wow, I don’t recognize this. This is not part of me. And it starts to mount that immune reaction to that particular food. And then when you continue to eat that food, your body continues to mount that reaction, that immune reaction, which then contributes to inflammation.
Now, inflammation basically is your immune system at work. So, okay, I know we’re talking about endometriosis, which society as a whole tends to view as a reproductive disorder, right? It has to do with your uterus and menstruation and all of that, which… I really view endometriosis as a full body disease, and this is a big part of it.
But basically, when this is happening, your body is mounting this immune response, inflammation is increasing in your body, and then that inflammation can contribute to inflammation in other areas of your body. So then we start to experience pain and fatigue and all of these symptoms of endometriosis.
Now, that’s why I like to, in my practice with my clients, use that food sensitivity test because oftentimes what people do is that they recognize that there are certain foods that are not working well with their bodies, but they’re not quite sure what, and so they start just removing a whole bunch of foods, and we start to get in this mindset of, okay, maybe if I just remove this one more food, then everything will be good.
Sound familiar? Sound familiar? I know this because I went through this process myself. So, what we really want to do is pinpoint what foods your unique body is sensitive to. Remove those for a short period of time, not forever. That’s one of the other pieces that I think a lot of people miss here. You’re removing those foods for a short period of time while you’re also healing your gut so that you don’t end up…
developing further food sensitivities, and then the goal is to be able to reintroduce the food so that you can end up eating as many foods as possible in the long run. So that’s how the whole food sensitivity thing comes into play, which really is an important piece when it comes to nutrition is figuring out what foods actually work for your unique body.
All right, so that’s number two, all about food sensitivities. Number three, specific foods can contribute to anti inflammatory pathways or pro inflammatory pathways in your body. So in your body, when you break down certain foods, fats primarily, which we’re going to talk about in a second. When your body breaks down these foods, they break down in certain ways that lead down what’s called prostaglandin pathways.
I’m not going to get super scientific with it today, but just to kind of give you an overview. And those prostaglandin pathways can lead either towards promoting inflammation or reducing inflammation, the anti inflammatory route. Now, the reason your body does this is because we actually need both inflammation and anti inflammation.
You need inflammation in your body. Think about when you get a little cut in your finger. Right? How it kind of swells up a little bit. It might get red and puffy. That’s your immune system at work. That’s inflammation. And you actually need that in order for that to heal. Same thing if you roll an ankle or something like that.
Just talking about some of these common injuries that we experience. Well, the same thing is happening inside of your body all the time. So, when you’re eating certain foods, and specifically for this conversation, fats, like omega 3 fats in particular, are really wonderful for leading down that anti inflammatory pathway.
It can be helpful for when your body is super inflamed, like it typically is. In the case of endometriosis, if you’re experiencing pain and you’re experiencing fatigue, odds are there is inflammation in your body, whether it’s coming from endometriosis or other things. And then the opposite is also true.
When you’re consuming a lot more omega 6 rich foods, particularly when you’re looking at oils like vegetable oils, that’s going to include actual vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, even sunflower and safflower oil. definitely anything you see on a package that says hydrogenated oil of any kind, those types of fats are going to really lead towards that pro inflammatory pathway.
And like I said, it’s not a bad thing to have inflammation, but what happens is we tend to have too big of a ratio there. We tend to eat way more of these omega 6 fats compared to the omega 3 fats, and that’s where we run into trouble. And that’s another place where nutrition can be really beneficial. If you’re super intentional about what fats you’re eating and you’re being very intentional about getting in those omega 3 fats, which that’s going to be things like fatty fish like salmon and mackerel and herring.
There are also a lot of plant sources of omega 3s like hemp hearts and chia seeds and flax seeds, walnuts. There’s all kinds of different sources that you can use and even getting a wide variety of those all throughout your day can be really beneficial. And those fats can actually help to reduce the inflammation in your body.
I, myself, and often with my clients, will also supplement with a high dose, but also high quality that part’s important omega 3 supplement, and that can be really beneficial, too. Although, we’ll talk more about supplements on another day. Today, we’re going to focus more on nutrition, right? eating those high quality foods.
And there certainly are other foods that can contribute to inflammation and can help to combat inflammation. When we’re looking at promoting anti inflammatory pathways, we’re looking at things like ginger and turmeric can be really beneficial. There’s some spices like that that are really wonderful.
When we’re looking at the pro inflammatory, you’re looking at things like processed foods, and sugar, and alcohol, and again, those foods that your unique body is sensitive to. So if we can work on, not being perfect, but balancing things out, can you focus more on those foods? foods that are going to help to reduce inflammation and really build up the amount of those anti inflammatory foods that you’re eating, and at the same time, reduce the amount of those pro inflammatory foods that may be in your diet.
Then we can work on really balancing things out and bringing your body back into that ratio of omega 3 to 6s that we want, the ratio of pro inflammatory to anti inflammatory, and help to just calm everything down. And just that by itself can definitely be helpful when it comes to the pain and fatigue and those common symptoms that we experience.
Okay, so moving on to number four, which is what you eat literally makes every cell in your body and every function in your body. So it’s that phrase, you are what you eat. Or, more specifically, with the way that I work, is you are what you can absorb. And we’re going to talk a lot more about digestive health in future episodes here, but That is a key piece of it, right?
Because you can be eating the healthiest diet in the world, but if your body isn’t able to really absorb the nutrients the way that it should be, then you may still have a much lower nutrient status than you should. So, you are what you can absorb. Now, when I say every single cell in your body is made up of what you eat, I mean that quite literally.
The nutrients that you eat actually physically make up the cells of your body. So, even if you look at the wall of the cell, the part that kind of holds it all together, that is made of lipids, which are fats. So you actually need to consume fats in your diet in order to create that cell wall in an efficient way.
Along with that, creating anything in your body, you want to create hormones, your estrogen and your progesterone, which you certainly do. Right? I know a lot of times estrogen is really vilified in the world of endometriosis, but estrogen also has a lot of benefits to your body, and so it’s just a matter of balance, right?
You don’t want to have too much estrogen, but you do want to have estrogen. And that’s another thing we’ll come back to in a future episode, is really digging into the benefits of these hormones, why we need them in your body, how to optimize them. We’re going to dig into all of that stuff. But… Coming back to the nutrition piece of it, what you really need to know is that you need nutrients, specific nutrients, in order for your body to make hormones.
And some of those specific nutrients are going to be, believe it or not, cholesterol. I know, it’s another thing that’s been vilified in our society. You know, we all need to lower our cholesterol. That’s another thing that, there’s a bit of a misunderstanding on that. Cholesterol, in and of itself, is not necessarily…
Certain a bad thing. It comes back to, again, the type of cholesterol. That’s another thing that’s a whole story for another day. But you do need cholesterol in order to create hormones. Your body cannot create these beneficial hormones without having cholesterol. So there are plenty of food sources of cholesterol, which I think a lot of us are.
somewhat familiar with because we’re told to avoid them. Eggs are a really great source of cholesterol, including the yolk. Yes, love the egg yolks. Meat, red meat, is a wonderful source of cholesterol that we need. And in addition to that, both of those things, eggs, meat, are wonderful sources of protein, which happens to be another thing that we need to be able to actually build and create hormones in our bodies.
So when we’re looking at protein, I’m a big fan of the animal sources of protein. They’re much more bioavailable for your body. So looking at the pasture raised eggs and poultry, grass fed meat, wild caught fish and seafood, dairy products, if you can tolerate them, not everybody can. There are certainly plant sources of protein as well, which can be helpful, although of course they don’t have all of the types of amino acids that we, that your body needs to be able to break down, so it’s a matter of being a little more intentional when you are looking at plant sources of protein.
But you need those things, you need the cholesterol, you need the protein in order to actually make hormones. And in addition, when you’re eating protein, it actually signals your body to turn on certain enzymes to break down food. So there are certain enzymes in your body that break down protein. And if your body is not sensing that there is enough protein in there, it’s not going to turn on those enzymes.
And then what happens is your body kind of shuts that down or makes less of those enzymes because it decides that they are not necessary. And then when you start eating protein, now you feel like Okay, my body’s not really breaking this down, like maybe you just feel like your stomach is really heavy after eating protein or you feel very averse to it, you just don’t really feel like eating it.
Well, that may just mean that your body’s lacking the enzymes to actually use that protein. protein and be able to break it down into the amino acids that it needs to do things like, I don’t know, make hormones and build muscle and all the many, many things that protein does for our bodies gives us energy for sure.
That’s a huge thing. So again, if you’re struggling with fatigue, guess what? Eating protein can actually be a huge piece of the puzzle with that. What you eat literally becomes every single cell in your body, every function in your body. Your body cannot do the things that it needs to do, any of the things it needs to do, from digestive health, to regulating your blood sugar, to regulating your immune system.
To creating hormones to reproductive health, your body cannot do any of that unless you actually ingest the nutrients that you need, right? The way that our human bodies are built, that is how we get nutrients, right? There’s certain things like, yes, you can get vitamin D from the sun. We all know that, but we, we are not plants, right?
You need more than that. And many of us don’t get enough sunlight either, which is a whole other story. But you have to actually ingest the nutrients that your body needs and be intentional about that. Because just because a food is sold on the shelf in a store does not mean that it has nutrients in it.
I’ll say that again. Just because a food is sold on the shelf in a store does not mean that it contains the nutrients that your body needs. And that is so important to know. You really, in this, in our modern day and age, have to be intentional about finding the foods that are actually going to be beneficial in your body, right?
So find the fruits, the vegetables, the whole food sources of, of protein. Actively search those things out and bring them into your life. So that you can build a body that is full of nutrients and vibrant and all the things that you want it to be. You can play a part in that. And I find that to be very empowering.
Okay, so last one for today, number five, is knowing that there are so many things in our day to day lives that cause nutrient deficiencies. So this comes back to the earlier conversation that we were having about your body just needing the nutrients and that the stress from endometriosis depletes the nutrients a little bit more than the average human body.
But there are other things that go on in our day to day lives, both from things that we’re exposed to, things that are going on internally, that can burn up nutrients faster than they would on an average day in a really healthy body. So let’s take a look at a few things so that you can have an awareness of where some of the nutrients that you’re eating may be going and what things your body may end up becoming deficient in because of it.
And you may notice some patterns here as we’re going through these things. So number one is stress. I know, you’re probably listening to this going, well, great, how am I possibly going to eliminate stress from my life? Odds are you’re not, right? That’s just the truth of it. Unless you’re going to remove yourself from society and go live in a cave, which I think would be actually very stressful in different ways anyway, so that’s a different story.
You’re not going to remove all stress from your life. And this is something else that we’ll discuss much more in future episodes. But managing and reducing your stress is going to be an important piece of the puzzle for your health. Because when your body is under stress, and that can be external stress like your job, your relationships, your car, your traffic that you’re sitting in, whatever it may be that causes stress in your life, that stress, or internal stress, Internal stress can be things like digestive dysfunction and imbalances in your gut, blood sugar dysregulation.
There’s all kinds of things that happen inside of our bodies that can contribute to that stress bucket as well. All of that, both the internal and the external stressors, actually burn up nutrients faster. And the key nutrients that that stress tends to burn up are zinc and magnesium. And so, lo and behold, those are two of the nutrients that I find are very commonly deficient.
Not just with endometriosis, I would say, just with the general population, because who doesn’t have some sort of stress in their lives? Other things that can really impact your nutrient status are medications. And this is by no means me telling you to go off medications. Please work with your doctor on that.
Sometimes medications are necessary, but it can also be possible, if it’s not contraindicated, to supplement with certain things that your medications might be depleting in your body. Birth control is a very common example of a medication that actually contributes to a lot of nutrient deficiencies. And most likely this is something that your doctor may not have mentioned to you, but it is actually a well known fact.
of birth control, at least within the holistic communities that I find myself in. And some of those nutrients that birth control tends to deplete include folic acid, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. I know, that’s a long list. So there’s quite a few nutrients that birth control tends to really deplete from your body.
And that’s an important thing to know because birth control is one of the common treatments that doctors use for endometriosis. So if you’re not aware that those are, may also be causing nutrient deficiencies, that is definitely something to take a look at. And that can be something that you mention to your doctor.
That can be something that you work with a practitioner who’s really well versed in nutrients and nutrient status. That’s part of the work that I do with my clients is checking out some specific nutrients and seeing how your body is doing that with that, what you may need extra support on. Another thing that can cause nutrient deficiencies in your body is even a buildup of toxins, which toxins can come from so many places, and this is yet another thing that we’re going to have a future episode discussing a lot more in depth.
But toxins, which can come from various chemicals and things that we come in contact with, like anything that has a synthetic fragrance, a lot of the cleaning products we use, A lot of personal care products, a lot of the things that we use around the house or you’re going to bump into when you’re out and about, those toxins as they build up in your body can start to cause injury to cells.
And when there’s injury to your cells, it can start to burn up some of those key nutrients like, again, B vitamins, magnesium, CoQ10, and zinc. If you’re noticing some patterns there, you’re not alone. That zinc and magnesium in particular, and B vitamins, are some of the things that tend to be depleted very quickly when there’s imbalances happening in your body.
So definitely things to look at when it comes to trying to work on your nutrition. Okay, so that’s our top five things that you need to know about nutrition for endometriosis. So just a quick little recap on that. We had number one, nutrition isn’t everything, but it is a key, crucial piece of the puzzle.
Number two, food sensitivities contribute to inflammation. Number three, specific foods can contribute to anti inflammatory pathways or pro inflammatory pathways. Number four, what you eat literally makes every cell in your body and every function in your body. And number five, there are so many things in our life that cause nutrient deficiencies.
All right, well, I hope that you learned something really valuable today that you can take with you some wonderful little nugget of information. We are going to be in future episodes really diving into exactly how to be eating for endometriosis, how to really come up with a, with a solid game plan. best foods that you can be eating, the worst foods that you can be eating.
We’ll be looking into supplements. We’ll be looking into how to get to the root cause of your endosymptoms. We’ll be talking about mindset. We’ll be digging deeper into things like gut health and toxins, digestive health, some of those things that I mentioned today. Be sure that you hit subscribe so that you get notified of those upcoming episodes if that sounds like something that’s really interesting to you.
And then just as a reminder, as we’re figuring out all of this stuff, be sure to listen to your body, right? I think we’re so used to kind of numbing things out in a way and just telling ourselves that it’s all fine, we’re okay. We’re very good at ignoring the signals that our body is sending. It’s important to know that when your body is sending signals like pain, fatigue, bloating, food sensitivities, diarrhea, constipation, hormone imbalances, all of those endosymptoms that we experience, those things are telling us that There is an imbalance in your body that your body’s asking for certain nutrients and certain levels of support.
So listen to that. Get to the root of what’s going on. Work with a knowledgeable practitioner who can really help you get to the bottom of this stuff. All right. Thank you guys so much for joining me today. I can’t wait to share more with you next time. In the meantime, please have the most wonderful day and we will talk very soon, my friend.
All right. Take care.