The Endo Diet

The Backstory
In August 2010, I underwent my 3rd surgery to remove endometriosis and during the recovery, I fell into a severe depression. Endometriosis has no cure and the medical community admittedly knows very little about causes for the disease or how to treat it (other than synthetic hormones and/or surgery). I knew I didn't want to end up on the operating table every 1.5 years (average reoccurrence rate for endometriosis) and didn't want to live with the excruciating daily pain that can accompany endometriosis. Yet, no one in the medical community could give me answers. So, I started using my recovery time to research and found The Endo Diet.

(The following was taken from the back of the book)...The author, Carolyn Levett, was diagnosed with severe endometriosis years ago. After 4 years following a path of healing using alternative medicine, a vegetarian diet, a few select supplements, combined with lots of positive thinking and determination, she totally regained her health and was able to heal from the disabling disease of Endometriosis.

Below I will outline the diet, as best I can. You diet, however, may need to be a varied a bit. As always, make sure you talk with your practitioner and listen to your own body as far as what works and what doesn't.

Please note: All the information below is taken directly from the book. Unless it's written in pink. Those are thoughts from Foodie4Healing.
Foods to Avoid & Why

Wheat - many women with Endometriosis are wheat intolerant. Also, it appears that many women with endo suffer from Candida, so wheat should be eliminated from your diet to help combat Candida, as wheat feeds the Candida growth, and wheat appears to aggravate the symptoms of endometriosis.

For more information on my personal experience with following a diet to combat Candida, click here.

Meat - red meat is excluded from the diet for a variety of reasons, the main reason being that red meat will increase the production of the bad prostaglandins in the body that are responsible for the production of pain messengers in the body.

  • increases estrogen production, which has been linked to endometriosis
  • increases intake of prostaglandins in the body which are partly responsible for muscle cramping, uterine cramping, pain signals and inflammation
  • produces an acid which is an inflammatory agent
  • (unless organic) full of hormones, antibiotics and unwanted chemicals

Dairy - the use of dairy products, including milk, cheese, and butter are similar to the problems associated with meat.
  • pro-inflammatory - again caused by series 2 prostaglandins
  • not easy to digest and can interrupt the take up of other nutrients
Some women with Endometriosis have done okay on raw cow's dairy products, goat's dairy products or sheep's dairy products. Experiment with different dairy products and see how your body and your Endometriosis reacts.

Also, some women find that they don't have any reactions to eggs. Eggs are great source of protein, so try them out and see how you react.

Yogurt - There are different types of yogurt. It is the commercial, sweetened, flavored yogurts, which do need to be excluded. They are not natural; include a lot of sugar, and possibly other additives. The natural 'live' yogurts are actually beneficial to your health. These yogurts contain active bacteria which are beneficial to the health of your intestinal flora. These same beneficial bacteria can help you address the negative bacteria overgrowth caused by Candida

Sugar - highly refined with concentrated carbohydrates which have a negative effect on the symptoms of endometriosis.
  • another food that feeds Candida
  • foods with a high sugar content will increase menstrual cramping
  • suppresses the immune system and causes hormone imbalance
My personal thoughts on sugar are that it's unrealistic to think we'll never eat sugar again. But, we need to be eating it on rare occasions only and only eating the very healthiest forms of sugar. For more on what the best sugar options are, please click here.

Coffee and Tea - caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea and fizzy drinks increases levels of estrogen in the body. Drinking more than 2 cups of coffee daily may boost your estrogen levels and could worsen the symptoms.
  • increases levels of estradiol, a naturally occurring form of estrogen, during a woman's menstrual cycle; 70% higher levels over non-coffee drinkers
  • aggravates fibrocystic breast disease
  • increases the risk of miscarriages and birth defects
  • psychological effects include anxiety, panic attacks and depression
  • decaf is not better; has been proven to be carcinogenic

Soy - There are two 'camps' for the use of soy in food. There is the traditional, oriental use of soy in fermented soy products (such as tempeh, natto, miso and soy sauce). These products are produced naturally and do not contain the same chemicals and toxins of the modern highly processed use of soy (such as tvp, soy protein powder, tofu, etc).
  • disrupts endocrine function and has the potential to cause infertility and promote breast cancer
  • contains potent anti-thyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer
  • increases the body's need for certain vitamins (such as B12, vitamin D, etc)
  • contains toxic and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines
  • contains MSG
  • contains high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and kidneys
  • weakens the immune system

Oils - processed vegetable oils are bad for you. The only vegetable oils to eat are those which have been produced by being cold-pressed during the processing. Ideally you need to using natural, unrefined cold-pressed oils. They can be found in: safflower oil, walnut oil, flax seed oil, linseed oil, borage oil, star flower oil, extra virgin cold pressed olive oil)

Food to Include & Why

Coconut Oil - rich in lauric acid, which is known for being anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-fungal. Be sure you're purchasing cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil.
  • improves conditions in those with diabetes and chronic fatigue
  • increases metabolism and promotes healthy thyroid function

Fibrous Whole Grains - foods that contain the entire kernel or grain, or the entire kernel that is edible. (Examples are oatmeal, cornmeal, popcorn, brown rice, whole rye, barley, quinoa and spelt). The more fiber you eat, the easier it is to off-load excess estrogens from your system. The fiber binds the estrogens and inhibits their re-absorption. 

Other foods that aid excretion of estrogens from the body are:
  • peas and beans
  • red and purple berries
  • garlic
  • apples
  • parsley
  • fennel
  • cabbage, cauliflower, etc
  • nuts and seeds
  • celery, carrots
  • rhubarb
  • sage

In-Season, Local, Organic Fruits & Vegetables - if at all possible try to eat organic produce. Non-organic (and even some organic, but not local) produce has been treated with pesticide sprays, chemicals and sometimes have even been gassed. Eating in-season and local is cheaper and tastes better, too.

Noni Juice - contains a natural anti-inflammatory enzyme which reduces swelling & inflammation. It is very effective against menstrual pain, and many women with endometriosis who have used it found their symptoms have been greatly reduced. You may need to use it for a few months before you really begin to notice changes or improvements. Pineapple also helps aid pain and inflammation.

Decaf Organic Green Tea - protects the body at a molecular level from the toxic effects of dioxins. Some researchers feel that dioxins could be the cause of endometriosis. Researchers have also found chemicals in green tea that shut down a key molecule that can play a role in the development of cancer.

Organic Vegetarian-Fed Chicken - Yes, you can sometimes eat meat, but it will need to be organically reared and fed, and you should ideally only eat chicken. Remember that red meat causes inflammation.

I make sure my meats are grass-fed and hormone-free.

Organic Fish - the most beneficial ones are the ones that contain fish oils. These include herring, mackerel, sardines, pilchards, salmon, trout and tuna. Make sure the fish you're eating comes from clean water sources free from pesticides and chemicals. It's even safer to eat fish that has come from the sea, from deep waters.

Salt - One of the key functions of iodine (salt) is to maintain the health of the thyroid. There are many women with endometriosis who appear to have imbalances of their thyroid gland. In turn, one of the functions of the thyroid is to control the hormone imbalances in the body. Table salt is iodized with additives; avoid it. Sea salt, on the other hand, provides us with natural iodine as well as other minerals.


Foods to Completely Avoid:
  • Sugar, in all forms
  • Processed salt and high-salt products (such as bouillon)
  • Dairy (including milk, cheese, etc - beware of sodium caseinate or whey)
  • Wheat and Rye
  • Caffeine: Tea, Coffee and Alcohol
  • Fried Foods, Margarine and Hydrogenated Fats
  • Soy: milk, manufactured soy products, etc
  • Tinned and frozen packaged foods
  • Manufactured meat products: sausage, burgers, red meat, etc
  • Aspartame, saccharine, MSG, food additives, chemicals, preservatives, nitrates, etc
Foods to Include:
  • Whole Grains (like brown rice, millet, quinoa, etc)
  • Peas & Beans
  • Seeds & Nuts (but not peanuts)
  • Vegetables: carrot, parsnip, celery, beets, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, radish, lettuce, onion, leek, garlic, fennel, watercress, sprouted seeds, green bean, cucumber, yam, sweet potato, etc.
  • Fruits: apple, lemon, red and purple berries, apricots, etc
  • Organic fish