The Importance of a Solid Health Foundation and Managing Endo
Last updated: January 2022
Endometriosis is complicated, but that doesn’t mean management always has to be.
I have many new clients who come to me worried that they have something more complex going on with their endo and their health, but when we improve their foundational health practices, they notice a remarkable difference.
This is because the pillars of good health improve how our body copes with and responds to endometriosis. So before spending a fortune on fancy supplements and testing, have a quick check-in of your foundations first.
Nutrition for endo pain
We know that a healthy anti-inflammatory diet can help improve our health, reduce our chances of developing certain diseases, and can aid with pain.1 Diets like the Mediterranean diet, for example, might be effective with pain conditions such as arthritis because they can lower inflammation2, whereas, in contrast, diets high in sugar, processed foods, and low in vegetables and fruits have been shown to raise inflammation.1
I deep dive into the basics of nutrition for endo in various articles and my podcast episodes, but in short, one of the simplest ways to add more anti-inflammatory nutrients to our diet is to eat more colorful veg and fruit, and a varied range of whole plant foods.
The first step to balancing your blood sugar is to ensure that you’re eating meals consisting of fiber, healthy fats, proteins, and complex carbohydrates. At the Integrative Women’s Health Institute, we use this formula: fill 50% of your plate with low starchy veg, 25% of your plate with lean organic protein, and split the final 25% between some starchier carbs like root veggies or whole grains and then healthy fats (about two tablespoons).
You’ll likely need to tweak and tailor to your own body’s needs, but that’s the basic template.
Endo's effect on sleep
Lack of sleep has incredibly far-reaching effects, but with endometriosis, lack of sleep might cause an increase in inflammation, heightened pain signals3, mess with our blood sugar levels, and create hormonal disruption 4 and cause brain fog and fatigue. It can also lead to or worsen anxiety and depression, which many people with endo already struggle with.
Research shows we need at least seven hours of sleep.5 In my experience, many endo patients feel better on more, so somewhere between 8 and 12, depending on where they are health-wise.
It’s also important to keep to a routine, going to bed and waking up at the same time as often as possible. This helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle and energy throughout the day, which is essential, giving that many people with endo struggle with HPA axis dysfunction.
Moving to decrease inflammation
Movement is important for all of us, and for people with endometriosis, it could help to lower inflammation6 and when done in a way that suits our unique bodies, might improve energy and pain.
If you find certain exercise exhausts you, leaves you depleted or in pain, for now, try a different form of movement. You could try slow walking, stretching, yoga, or even Pilates in bed. Just ensure you feel energized or relaxed afterward, not worn out.
When we support our pelvic floor correctly during movement, we might be able to lower pain by reducing the tension in our pelvic floor.
Stress and increase in pain
Stress can increase pain, pain signals, and really mess with our hormones. While we can’t live in a stress-free bubble, we can learn healthy practices to support us with managing stress on a day-to-day basis.
Which symptoms are you experiencing the most this week? (Check all that apply):