Prostaglandins are the main hormones in the body that can increase or decrease inflammation. The body makes them from fatty acids. The type of prostaglandin created by your body (pro or anti-inflammatory) depends on the type of fatty acids in your body provided through your diet.
Prostaglandins are hormones that our body uses to manage the inflammatory processes in the body. Your body produces them from the fats you ingest. Not all prostaglandins are bad, however. Your body produces two different kinds: ones that promote inflammation and ones that inhibit it. If you have arthritis or other conditions negatively impacted by chronic or excessive inflammation, you probably have heard a lot about anti-inflammatory diets and that the foods you eat could affect prostaglandin production.
Diet to reduce pain, cyst, and other conditions such as sciatica, endometriosis, pain-related disorders
• anti-inflammatory (less pain) function
• promotes less estrogen (endometriosis and sciatica pain grows with estrogen)
• builds up the immune system
However, knowing what not to eat can make a significant difference in the way an endometriosis sufferer feels. In fact, endometriosis diet is about eliminating foods that increase negative prostaglandins, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and prostaglandin F2a (PGF2a). Negative prostaglandins stimulate estrogen, which is the main hormone that wreaks havoc in an endometriosis sufferer.
What you need to include to reduce inflammation
• Your diet needs to contain fiber rich foods, lots of fruits and vegetables that will prevent constipation.
• Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herrings and mackerel, and halibut rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
• Moderate amounts of grass fed beef. Fresh pineapple, berries of all sorts are anti-inflammatory aid healing and also enhance the immune system.
• 2 – 3 cups of green tea per day with its fabulous anti-oxidant properties
• Turmeric, garlic, ginger
• The B vitamins are highly important and can be found in green peas, spinach, navy beans, nuts, pinto beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, whole grain fortified cereals and breads and unpolished rice and legumes. Use supplements of B1 and B12 especially or a B complex (including all 8 B vitamins) vitamin if you are not including enough of them in your diet. B12 is needed by the body in small quantities but it is essential. It is not found in plant sources (except for seaweed) so if you do not eat any animal products at all you will need to make sure you take a good B12 supplement.
• Foods rich in Vitamins A, such as dairy products – milk, cheese and yogurt, carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, orange-coloured fruits, e.g. mangoes and apricots, fortified margarine, eggs, mackerel and other oily fish. The beta carotene that helps the formation of vitamin A in the body can be found in general orange or yellow fruits and vegetables but some green vegetable s where the tell tale orange pigment is hidden by the presence of chlorophyll. These are broccoli, apricots, carrots and sweet potatoes.
• Vitamin C is found in fruits – especially citrus, regular and sweet potatoes, cabbage, spinach broccoli, tomatoes, and green and yellow vegetables.
• Vitamin K sources such as broccoli and spinach, alfalfa, vegetable oils and cereals.
• Drink plenty of water. Your body needs adequate water to function at an optimum level. Adults need between 1.5 – 3 litres a day.
Increase Good Fats
Along with removing the source of inflammatory prostaglandins from your diet, you may also use products to reduce their production, such as fish oils (EPA/DHA in capsules or liquid) and the herb turmeric, throughout your cycle. Turmeric is best taken on an empty stomach to maximize its natural anti-inflammatory effect.
Ensuring proper fiber intake may also help bowel function. High fiber foods include whole grains like oatmeal and rye, lentils, chickpeas, vegetables and fruit. You may also want to consider a fiber supplement. Fiber intake, as well as the use of antibiotics, affects bacterial balance in the digestive tract. If you have taken antibiotics in the past or consumed an abundance foods containing sugar, you may benefit from supplements containing probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus. Probiotics are the healthy type of bacteria living in our digestive tract. They are essential for the production of certain vitamins and healthy immunity. If you experience digestive upset along with your menstrual pain, or on its own, probiotic supplements taken daily on an empty stomach may bring you some relief.
What you need to avoid• Inflammatory foods, animal products: Cut out all animal products in the first two weeks except fatty fish.
Food items that will result in prostaglandins that are more prone to increase inflammation are a high use of Safflower oil, Sunflower oil, corn oil, Sesame oil, margarine, vegetable shortening and partially hydrogenated oils this includes products made with these items – check your labels!
• Stress and stressor foods: As one of the causes of sciatica can be stress, the result of which the hormone levels become elevated and released through nerve endings so you need to avoid ‘stressor’ foods such as caffeine (again check the labels caffeine crops up in a lot of products), processed foods, carbonated drinks, refined sugar and chocolate. Alcohol and smoking cigarettes also produces a stress reaction in the body.
1. Eliminate processed and prepared foods that contain trans fats. Trans fats are vegetable oils that have been chemically altered to increase shelf-life and freshness of food. You can find them in fried foods, fast foods, shortening, margarine and any packaged product that names partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient. Trans fats also naturally occur in milk fat, beef and other animal foods explains the American Heart Association. This might be due to digestive processes of the animals; if you eat these foods you cannot completely avoid this type of fat.
2. Cut back on vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fat recommends integrative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil. Your body uses these fats to create pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Problematic oils include but are not limited to corn, safflower and sunflower oil. Most commercially produced snack foods contain these oils.
3. Increase your intake of healthy fats that increase the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and reduce the formation of pro-inflammatory ones. Beneficial foods include those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fatty fish salmon, tuna and mackerel. Eat walnuts, flaxseed, whole soy foods and hempseed. You can also find many products fortified with these beneficial fatty acids that normally do not contain them such as eggs. Cook with olive and canola oil.
Sciatica can occur suddenly and be totally and painfully debilitating and a new experience to you or maybe it’s a reoccurring issue that you have lived with for years, suffered the pain and discomfort, put up with the disruption it causes to your life, popped varying amounts of anti-inflammatory over the counter medications and wait for it to ease up? Nutrition is a powerful tool you have on your side.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It begins at the lower back and travels down the buttock and the length of the leg. Problems in the lower back can cause compression or irritation of this nerve and cause sciatica. This type of sciatica is an inflammation problem. Another cause can be piriformis syndrome which is a muscular problem with the piriformis muscle tightening and placing pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Put an ice pack on your lower back/bottom for about 10 minutes before bed. If this helps ease the pain your problem is quite likely to be one of inflammation.
Put a heat pad on your bottom for 20 minutes before you go to bed. If the pain is better/reduced significantly in the morning it is likely you have a muscular problem. Check for exercises you can do to stretch out the piriformis muscle to help ease this problem also including magnesium rich foods into your diet will help such as dairy products, fish, meat, seafood, apples, apricots, brown rice, and lima beans. Also make sure you have enough B-12 in your diet.
Causes of inflammation causing sciatica can range from a bulging or herniated disc (putting pressure on the spinal nerves), constipation (a surprisingly high number of sciatica sufferers manage to alleviate their pain by altering their diets to avoid constipation that they didn’t realise they had), nutrient deficiencies, infections, diabetes, thyroid disease, metabolism imbalances, gout, alcohol, direct injury/trauma and also stress.
Don’t slump! Take steps to improve your posture and strengthen your core muscles to prevent recurrences of your sciatica. If your sciatica is not food related be sure to see a doctor to investigate the other possible causes.
Foods to avoid in Endometriosis and Sciatica
1. Red Meat
Meat promotes negative prostaglandin PGF2a production. Red meat may contain growth hormones that include estrogen. If meat is your main source of protein, you can obtain the protein you need through other protein-rich foods such as chemical-free fish, organic or free-range chicken, beans, walnuts, cashews, chestnuts, sunflower seeds, flaxseed and sesame seeds.
2. Saturated fats and oils
Foods that are high in fatty acids stimulate the production of negative prostaglandin PGE2 and PGF2a. Fatty acids are found in saturated fats, oils (coconut oil, palm oil, etc.), butter, margarine, lard, organ meats, and fried foods.
Fried food, margarine and hydrogenated fats stimulate negative prostaglandins; they should be avoided.
Sugar, in all forms (refined, artificial or natural) produces a more acidic environment within the body that can encourage the inflammatory pain of endometriosis. Therefore, limit the consumption of any food with high content of sugar, such as chocolate, sweeteners, drinks, sweets and honey to the minimum.
Wheat contains phytic acid that can aggravate endometriosis symptoms. Wheat contains gluten and studies have found that many endometriosis sufferers appear to have gluten sensitivity which can cause an increase in painful symptoms. Studies have also shown that 80% of women who took gluten free diet have reduced painful periods. Therefore, products containing wheat and gluten such as breads, cakes, pasta, and so on should be avoided or limited.
5. Soy products and Soy Protein Products
Like wheat, soy contains phytic acid; however the levels of phytic acid in soy are considerably higher than wheat. High levels of phytic acid in soy are known to irritate the digestive system and reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Soy products also contain high levels of phytoestrogens, toxin which seems to be particularly detrimental for women with endometriosis. Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and promote breast cancer in adult women. Soy is found in many food products including granola, pasta, imitation meat, soy milk, soy yogurt, soy based cheese, etc.
Exceptions are fermented soy products–tofu, tempeh, and miso. The processing method used by traditional Asian to make this fermented soy products get rid of most of the toxins and make the beneficial phytochemicals more available in the body. Tofu and tempeh are a nearly complete protein and as such are an excellent alternative to meat in a balanced meal. Miso stirred into hot water with a strip of kombu or nori seaweeds is a rich source of minerals.
High consumption of caffeine has been found to increase estrogen levels, which can trigger endometriosis flare ups. Hence, caffeine-rich foods to avoid with endometriosis include coffee, tea and soft drinks. Coffee is a known phytoestrogen. Since it is a phytoestrogen, decaffeinated coffee may still be able to act as an estrogen. Consuming more than two cups of coffee a day may cause estrogen levels to raise.
Optimum liver function is essential for clearing out excess estrogen which in return helps to control endometriosis. Overconsumption of alcohol is best known for causing the liver damage where the liver will swell with acute intoxication, sometimes painfully, and will show fatty infiltration and enlargement. Alcohol ingestion also interferes with vitamin B12 absorption. Eliminating alcohol from the body stresses the liver and this hinders it from expelling other toxic such as excessive estrogen from the body.
8. Dairy products
Dairy products should be avoided as they stimulate the production of negative prostaglandin PGE2 and PGF2a, which can worsen the endometriosis symptoms. The primary dairy foods that you should avoid with endometriosis include milk and cheese. To fulfil calcium requirement for the body, other good sources of calcium are sesame seeds, almonds, salmon, sardines, seaweed, figs, and calcium fortified foods such as orange juice and oat milk.
Note: When substituting dairy products such as pasteurized milk with soy milk, don’t forget that soy can also aggravate the endometriosis symptoms.
9. Refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates also encourage the inflammatory pain of endometriosis. Examples are white bread, cakes, noodles, pasta, flour, pastry, etc. Most of their natural nutrients have been removed. Refined carbohydrates deplete the body’s nutritional stores as they are needed in order for the body to absorb the nutrients in the refined carbohydrates. This can also lead to increased endometriosis symptoms. A better substitute is unrefined carbohydrates such as gluten-free wholegrain breads, pasta, brown rice, potato, kumera (sweet potato) etc.
Note: When substituting refined carbohydrates, remember to look for gluten-free (wheat-free) products, as wheat can aggravate endometriosis symptoms.
10. Additives and preservatives
Processed, frozen and pre-packaged foods should be avoided when following an endometriosis diet as they are full of additives, preservatives chemicals, and many other ingredients that promote ill-health and negative prostaglandin PGE2 and PGF2. These additives and preservatives aggravate inflammation and worsen the menstrual pain.
• yeast in the backery product
• yeast in Chinese steamed bun
Some women have reported to achieving great health improvements by following a diet to address Candida yeast infection. I happened to be one of them. Donna Gates, in her book, “The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity” has shown strong connection between endometriosis and candida yeast overgrowth. I did the questionnaires in this book, and found out a lot of similarities between my endometriosis symptoms and the symptoms of candida overgrowth in one’s body. A study by the Woman’s Hospital of Texas examined 50 women with endometriosis and found that 40 women showed bacterial overgrowth. After eight weeks of candida diet, significant reduction in symptoms was achieved. Yeast foods to be avoided are breads, Chinese Steamed bun , bagels, pretzels, muffins and sugars.
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