Deeply nourishing and healing your body through foods is a cornerstone of this site.
There’s a lot of information out there about micro and macro, low fat and vegan versus high fat and paleo, but here at Heal Endo we see focus on a two-fold route towards health: heal gut, infuse with a nutrient dense diet.
The Heal Endo diet deeply aligns with the ancestral health movement, and see our immune-wracked bodies in great need of a tremendous nutritional lift. Our bodies are both wrought with inflammation from the processed foods of our cultures, but also with ravaged immune function they’re devoid of the vitamins, minerals, fats, and probiotics necessary for a healthy, happy body. And a body that’s depleted of the necessary components to heal will indeed be in pain.
That’s why I'm a huge proponent of cold pressed oils and fats, grass-fed butter butter (yes, butter!) and raw dairy, seasonal fruits and veggies, fermented and living foods, pastured eggs, properly prepared grains, and grass-fed meat. Delicious foods that will feed your body and nourish every cell within. This is a different type of endo diet.
We also want to make a big, bold statement right here. This isn’t a side note to try if you have time, this is a priority. Perhaps priority #1.
It’s time to fix your gut.
Based on the premise that endometriosis is immune disorder related, we are healing it as such. And the one thing nearly, if not all, auto-immune disorders have in common is gut permeability, or leaky gut. With 80% of your immune system based in your gut, it’s time to focus on the root of the problem rather than the symptoms.
The way to focus on healing the gut is through an elimination type diet. Some people call it the Paleo Auto-immune protocol, The Leaky Gut diet, or The Elimination Diet, but the main prerogative is to eliminate inflammatory foods for a month or more, then add them back in one by one to see which ones affect you. You do this while simultaneously adding in probiotic rich foods so that while you sooth your inflamed gut you also culture back in vital probiotics.
This isn't a diet for the rest of your life, only for 1-6 months depending on the severity of your issues. The good news is, your gut can be healed, your energy will come back, your digestion and metabolism will improve, and eventually you will go back to feeling normal. Fingers crossed! You just have to give your body the environment it needs to start the healing process, which is what this diet allows it to do. And lucky enough, the foods available to do so are delicious, filling, and won't leave you feeling deprived.
Nutrient Dense Diet: How is this different from the "Endometriosis diet"?
After you focus on gut health, it's time to start with your nutrient dense, Heal-Endo diet. How is that different than the "Endo Diet?". While there's no official "endo diet", the accepted protocol is to cut out inflammatory foods, including any/all meat, gluten, soy, dairy, yeast, alcohol, and caffeine. For how long? Well, pretty much forever. Sound good? Definitely not.
Of course we want to avoid inflammatory foods such as gluten, soy, and processed dairy, but just as importantly we want to replace those foods with delicious, nutrient dense meals that don’t leave you feeling deprived at every turn. It was only when I started eating for real health did I realize the endo-diet had cut many healthy things out of my life and, in reality, how awful and low-energy I had felt. This is why although we do align with certain aspects the typical endo diet, there were a few things we felt needed to be touched upon about why your endo-diet may not be helping:
- The old endo diet's focus is on restriction rather than infusion, leaving a large void to fill without specific substitutes. With many women who start on this diet, they cut out dairy, meat, wheat, sugar, yeast and gluten, without replacing them with lots of healthy fats, enough fruits and veggies, or properly prepared grains. Some women may replace gluten with processed gluten-free breads and pastas, while others may decide to go vegan, thereby missing key fat soluble vitamins that your immune system and body need to rebuild and heal. Not only does that end up feeling like serious deprivation, it actually is serious deprivation, leading towards more malnutrition when your body really need an intense infusion of nutrients.
- Too much processed or sweet foods: Did you replace all the bread and pasta you were eating with gluten free bread and pasta? Do you eat most of your "fresh foods" in the form of smoothies, acai, and sweet juices? There's a lot of "healthy" food sites that mislead you into thinking these alternative good for you, but sadly, your body treats processed & refined flours just the same as sugar, and the more sugar in your diet the more inflammation.
- Not enough animal products, including grass-fed meat: Yes I said it, meat. This is a dreaded ingredient in the endo community, but a myth worth dispelling. The myth comes from the prostaglandin issue, that all meat causes this inflammatory response. The truth is, this inflammatory response happens when your omega 6:omega 3 ratio is skewed. Humans are supposed to eat between a 1:1 - 1:4 ratio (omega6:3), but factory farmed meat, eggs, and dairy products can have up to 20:1! That will definitely cause inflammation. What you can eat is organic, pasture-raised meat which has omega 6: 3 ratios around 3:1 (which is perfect) and so incredibly nutritious -- especially organ meats! In fact, some organ meats are amongst the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, so if you've been nutrient deprived for many years by eating a standard american diet, this is a great way to start filling back up your vitamin and mineral reserves. The rule, of course, is it must be grass-fed.
- It doesn't limit vegetable oils: And veggie oils are basically liquid death... okay that's extreme, but seriously they're terrible for you. Canola, soy, corn, vegetable, safflower - they're in nearly every processed food and restaurant kitchen because they're so cheap to make. Even if they're organic, the process in which these seed oils are created is at such a high heat that the oil oxidizes and voila, loads of free-radicals and omega-6's. What does a dietary excess of free-radicals and omega 6's do? Cause rampant inflammation. READ ALL ABOUT THAT ON MY POST HERE.
- Don't consume enough of, or the right kinds of fat: Speaking of oil, it's utterly important to eat lots of fat, especially when you're cutting out excess processed foods and grains. This will make you feel satiated, help curb those sugar cravings, and reduce your inflammation. Of course it has to be the right kinds -- cook with grass-fed butter, lard, ghee, or coconut oil which are all heat stable. Top salads with extra virgin olive, or cold pressed sesame, flax, or almond (which oxidize under heated conditions).
- The old endo diet doesn’t focus on healing the gut. That means if you have intestinal permeability or poor digestion, you must take certain steps to heal the gut in order for it — and your immune system — to start functioning correctly. The awesome side note here is that as your gut heals, so too should many of your allergies. So rather than being stuck on the “endo diet” forever, you will begin to see improvement until one day, hopefully, you can eat many of the foods you cut out initially.
A Straightforward Approach to Healing
The diet laid out here is an initial leaky gut protocol to restart your gut health, followed by a nutrient dense diet full of everything you need to feel great. To avoid being vague here is your prescription: Do leaky gut diet minimum 30 days and longer if you need, and then implement nutrient dense diet thereafter.
I know I've said the endo-diet makes you feel deprived, and then recommend a gut healing protocol which is also, well, limiting to say the least. But this isn't a lifelong diet! You should be on it at least 30 days (I myself did it for 2 months), but after that depending on your level of healing, you will wean yourself off of it and even be able to eat things you couldn't before. Plus you'll start to look and feel your best as your body refills its nutrient quota that it's guaranteed been deficient in for some time. That alone will give you motivation to stick with it and regain your health bit by bit.
Step 1: Fix your Gut
If you’ve been on the “endo diet” for a while and not seen the results you hoped for, this may be the crux of the issue. You can cut out many inflammatory foods but without correcting your bacteria balance and gut permeability your body won't heal in the ways you need. Learn about the strategy to you can use reverse the endo pain, rather than nervously keep it at bay.
Step 2: Nutrient Dense Diet
Ready to feed your body what it needs to thrive? Want to learn how you can safely eat meat and dairy without flare ups? This isn't just a diet for the sick, it's also the diet followed by top athletes, endurance runners, and indigenous people of the world. No matter what your level of nutritional depletion, the food herein will restore your vitality bit by bit. Learn what the body needs to thrive!