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Does Red Meat Get the Red Flag?

Diet is a powerful and effective way to support your body in managing the symptoms of endometriosis. It’s within your control and every meal is an opportunity to get yourself one step (or shall I say, one bite) closer to living with less pain and fewer symptoms overall.

An anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense diet can help to create a healing environment in your body. Yet a diet of the “wrong” foods can create inflammation, influence hormones, and negatively impact endometriosis.

It begs the question, what should you eat and what shouldn’t you eat? Let’s begin with red meat. Does it get the red or green light?

What the research says

There’s no hard and fast rule that applies to every food and every person; however, red meat has been a suggested culprit for increasing estrogen and therefore having negative effects on endometriosis. According to a recent study out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Washington, women who eat red meat twice or more a week are at an increased risk developing endometriosis. The 22-year-long study analyzed nearly 82,000 women across the United States. Among other factors, the analysis included their consumption of red meat and the results showed that women who consumed red meat regularly were 56% more likely to develop endometriosis.1 That’s significant!

Defining “red-meat”

In the context of this study, the link to endometriosis was strongest for non-processed red meats such as steak and lamp chops. Surprisingly, bacon was in the clear, and not-so-surprisingly chicken, fish, and eggs were also in the clear. However, a previous study found processed meat – such as beef and ham – have negative effects on endometriosis as well.2

Is eliminating red meat the right decision for you?

It’s a personal decision and one that’s important to answer in the context of your overall health. Endometriosis is one factor, but also consider iron levels and another nutritional markers. If you have specific nutrient deficiencies or concerns, it will be beneficial to work with your healthcare team. If we’re just speaking generally, this could be a great excuse to add in “Meatless Mondays”.

What is a good red-meat alternative?

There’s certainly not a shortage of alternative options to red-meat. Just talking burgers alone, there’s turkey burgers, chicken burgers, black bean burgers, veggie burgers, soy-based burgers. However, it’s important when making the switch to add in an alternative that is healthier than what you’re eliminating.

For nutrient-density and taste preference, I enjoy turkey burgers. I don’t find ground chicken to have the right texture for burgers. I also believe it to be important to avoid soy because it too is suggested to have negative impacts on endometriosis.

If you’re looking for a meatless alternative, there are plenty of veggie burgers or black bean burgers that are flavorful, filling, and most importantly, they’re likely healthier options for your body.

Do you practice Meatless Monday? If so, what’s your favorite dish or recipe?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Endometriosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Yamamoto A, Harris HR, Vitonis AF, Chavarro JE, Missmer SA. A prospective cohort study of meat and fish consumption and endometriosis risk. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018;219(2):178.e1-178.e10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29870739. Accessed February 2, 2019.
  2. BBC News. Red meat risk for endometriosis. BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3890139.stm. Accessed February 2, 2019.

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