Can a Vegan Diet Really Alleviate Endometriosis Symptoms?

Jun 11, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. ET
Image: Bennett Raglin / Contributor / Getty Images

Actor and model Tia Mowry thanks clean eating for reducing her painful endometriosis symptoms. She talks about how radical dietary changes alleviated her severe symptoms of endometriosis in her new health book, Whole New You, reports Essence. Highlighting her work from her Cooking Channel television show, Tia Mowry at Home, the upcoming title discusses clean eating, meal planning, whole-body healing techniques like acupuncture, specific recipes and more.

More: What OB-GYNs want women to know about endometriosis

In an editorial for Momtastic, Mowry makes the case for a vegan plant-based diet. Most of all, she wanted to be a mother and birth her own children, but couldn’t if she didn’t improve her health. Now, along with her vegan husband, she can help her growing family adopt healthy habits, especially since she’s genetically prone to cancer.

While a nutritional journey can make a huge difference for one woman, can dietary changes help everyone with endometriosis? To investigate the issue further, I talked to expert Dr. Sallie Sarrel. She’s a licensed physical therapist who specializes in treating pelvic floor dysfunction, endometriosis, incontinence, interstitial cystitis, pudendal neuralgia and other types of pelvic pain.

“All the diets in the world are not going to modulate the disease that’s inside of you,” she explains. “They may modulate the inflammation leftover afterward, but [diet] isn’t going to cure the disease.”

As a lifelong endometriosis patient herself, she combines her lived experiences with medical research and many proven techniques, including pelvic mobilization, myofascial release, cranial sacral and visceral manipulation. Likewise, she and her patients have tried many diets over the years to alleviate the disease’s related pains and other symptoms. In fact, prior to her diagnosis, many (especially male) doctors suggested that her diet should change before doing anything else.

More: 10 things too many people get wrong about endometriosis

“Had I not spent so much time dwelling on it’s ‘what I’m eating,’ I might’ve been diagnosed earlier on,” she adds.

However, there are trigger foods that can definitely increase pelvic inflammation. For instance, Sarrel suggests those with endometriosis avoid gluten, dairy and soy products. Patients should also consider switching to organic meats if eating any at all.

In the past, some of her patients haven’t been able to tolerate eggs, beans, kale, corn and even peanut butter. She encourages patients to follow a low-glycemic diet because sugar (especially refined) can be extremely inflammatory on its own. Of course, this method only helps treat the symptoms, not the disease itself.

“The only way you’re able to manage endometriosis is with excision surgery,” explains Sarrel. Excision surgery is a procedure to remove the lesions of endometriosis, which are implants of cells from uterine lining on the outside of the uterus. Other options include removing the ovaries and/or uterus.

More: Endometriosis sucks, and Tia Mowry-Hardrict knows it

A vegan diet can be a great starting point for endometriosis patients. However, patients should also consider how gluten, soy, sugar and other types of plant-based foods can exacerbate symptoms as trigger foods. Diet is an important way to care for yourself, but in no way will it cure the disease on its own.

By Danielle Corcione

Originally published on HelloFlo.