Simply eating less meat may help to lower the risks of endometriosis and infertility new studies in a top reproductive medicine journal(1) have found. For women who are trying to conceive, it is great news that something as simple as a change of diet could help to reduce the risks of endometriosis, and curtain endometriosis recurrence after laparoscopic surgery.
Endometriosis is known to affect approximately one in twenty women and is a leading cause of infertility. It's a complicated disorder which has many of the hallmarks of both auto-immune disease and chronic inflammatory diseases. Animal fats have long been known to increase inflammation in the body and this may be one of the mechanisms by which red meat increases endometriosis risk.
When endometriosis has been removed laparoscopically it tends to grow back sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. Understanding the triggers for endometriosis can help women to extend the fertile window after surgery.
Red meat seems to be especially connected to increased endometriosis risks - studies seem to demonstrate that the more you eat, the more your risk of endometriosis increases, especially with beef and ham. Other studies have discovered that the more omega-3 fats women consume - such as those found in salmon, pumpkin seed, walnuts and flaxseeds - the more they lessen their risks of having the disease.
Adding fish oil supplements to your diet may fast-track the benefits of positive diet changes to help endometriosis, a speedy infusion of anti-inflammatory fats may start reducing inflammation fast. Ask your physician about starting a high quality fish oil supplement if you have endometriosis.
The lead researcher Dr Fabio Parazzini of the study (1) explained that:
"...for those with a high intake of beef, other red meat and ham, there was an increase of about 80-100 percent in relative risk."
This is a huge risk increase for one dietary item. If you have endometriosis you may benefit from exploring beans, lentils, nuts and fish, especially oily fish as primary protein sources. You should consult your physician about any radical dietary changes that you wish to make, ask a dietitian if you need help constructing a healthy plant-rich fertility diet.
If you do eat meat, choosing grass-fed beef which has been entirely pasture fed, my be less likely to promote inflammation. This form of meat may have a much more favorable fatty acid profile than meat from grain and growth hormone fed animals with restricted access to pasture and movement. Similarly, wild salmon has a much better fatty acid content that farmed fish which may also be high in contaminants such as PCBs.
If you are choosing a fish oil supplement choose wisely, many brands are cleaned of mercury and other common contaminants and are processed very carefully to avoid rancidity. A fish oil which smells or tastes unpleasant may be rancid.
Thinking of using less meat? You can make the transition to a low-meat or meat-free diet gently by making Chili and hot pots with ground meat and lots of legumes. These dishes are a great way to begin using less meat while adding more legumes and vegetables; keeping meaty tastes in your foods can help the transition to seem less dramatic. Meat free eating can be delicious and inexpensive when you have had a bit of practice and have found a few dishes that you love. Ask a dietitian for help if you need assistance constructing a healthy low meat diet.
This article is for purely informational purposes and in not intended to diagnose or replace medical or nutritional advice for which you should consult a physician or dietitian.
 Selected food intake and risk of endometriosis. Human Reproduction. (2004) 19 8: 1755-1759 Parazzini et al.