Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that can invade the female reproductive system. Most often fibroids occur during the middle to late childbearing years. They are often non-symptomatic but occasionally can cause extreme pain. Fibroids can also hinder fertility in many women. Surgery that removes the fibroids or the extreme uterus can be performed, but many women choose to treat the condition with natural methods, including nutrition. There are certain foods to avoid when you suffer from uterine fibroids.
Red meat from mammals and duck are not recommended for those with fibroids. These foods are likely to be high in added hormones, including estrogen. Eat lean white meat for a protein source instead.
Foods high in saturated fats should not be consumed by fibroid patients. These fats can raise the estrogen level, which allows fibroids to grow larger. These foods are also hard on the liver, making it difficult for the body to break down and rid itself of the excess hormones. Avoid bacon, sausage, egg yolks, avocados and high-fat processed snacks such as cookies and pastries, which are loaded with saturated fats.
Caffeine Laden Beverages
Beverages containing caffeine are on the list of foods to avoid when you have fibroids on your uterus. William E. Richardson of the Atlanta Clinic of Preventative Medicine warns against drinking these beverages due to their high level of methylanthins which, in turn, cause a high level of biochemicals in the body that can form tumors. Stay away from caffeinated sodas, tea, chocolate and coffee. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, coffee beans are often sprayed with the chemical DDT.
High-fat Dairy Products
Women with fibroid tumors are encouraged to limit consumption of high-fat dairy products such as whole milk, cream and butter. These products are often high in added hormones that can feed your tumors. Opt for organic hormone-free products for your dairy consumption.
Highly Salted Foods
Limit the amount of highly salted foods in your diet because they are hard on your liver. The liver is the organ most responsible for removing toxins and balancing hormones. Avoid canned soup, baked beans, pretzels, chips, pickles, olives and dried foods, such as jerky.
Lower the amount of “white” foods you consume. According to Healthy.net, these foods alter estrogen metabolism and can cause fibroids to grow larger. These foods include pasta, white bread, white rice, cakes and cookies.
There are a number of changes you can make that might help reduce your risk for fibroids.
Follow a Mediterranean diet
Add plenty of fresh and cooked green vegetables, fresh fruit, legumes, and fish to your plate. A Mediterranean diet is one way to do this. Research shows that eating these foods regularly may help lower your risk for fibroids. On the other hand, eating beef, ham, lamb, and other red meat may raise your risk.
Cut back on alcohol
Drinking any type of alcohol may increase your risk for fibroids. This can happen because alcohol raises the level of hormones needed for fibroids to grow. Alcohol may also trigger inflammation.
One study found that women who drank one or more beers a day increased their risk by more than 50 percent. Avoid or limit alcohol to help reduce your risk.
Estrogen is a hormone important for healthy fertility in both women and men. However, too much estrogen can increase your risk for fibroidsTrusted Source or make them worse.
Many treatments for fibroids work by lowering estrogen levels. Other ways to balance estrogen levels include:
Losing weight. Obesity and excess weight increase the risk for fibroids. Fat cells make more estrogen, so losing weight may help prevent or slow the growth of fibroids.
Avoiding hormone-disrupting chemicals. Natural and synthetic chemicals can throw off your endocrine balance, raising estrogen levels. These chemicals can leach into your body through skin and food. Avoid or limit coming into contact with chemicals found in:
- plastics such as BPA
- nonstick coatings on cookware
- fire retardants
- some personal care products
Lower blood pressure
Research shows that a high number of women with severe fibroids also have high blood pressure. More research is needed to find out if there’s a link.
Balancing blood pressure is vital for your overall health. Try these tips:
- Avoid added salt. Flavor food with herbs and other spices instead.
- Limit high-sodium processed and packaged foods.
- Check your blood pressure daily with a home monitor.
- Exercise regularly.
- Lose weight, especially around the waist.
- Avoid or limit alcohol.
- Increase potassium by eating a majority of plants at each meal.
- Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
- If you have high blood pressure, take medication as prescribed.
- See your doctor for regular checkups.
Get enough vitamin D
Vitamin D may help reduce your risk of fibroids by almost 32 percentTrusted Source. Your body makes this “sunshine vitamin” naturally when your skin’s exposed to sunlight. If you have darker skin or live in cooler climates, you’re more likely to be deficient.
Supplements can help raise your levels, along with foods such as:
- egg yolks
- fortified milk, cheese, and dairy products
- fortified cereals
- fortified orange juice
- fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
- cod liver oil
A note about smoking and diet
Eating brightly colored fruits and vegetables is good for your general health. Consuming a variety of red, yellow, and orange foods will provide rich antioxidants. Dark greens are also nutrient dense and will provide healthful benefits. These nutrients may help protect you from disease, including some cancers.
However, a study found that beta carotene found in red, yellow and orange foods didn’t lower the risk for fibroids. In smokers, beta carotene may even increase risk. Further research is needed on why this might happen. In any case, smoking is harmful to your health and may increase your risk of fibroids.
Foods to eat if you have fibroids
Diet alone can’t treat fibroids. However, a balanced diet may also help ease some fibroid symptoms and complications. Certain foods may help slow fibroid growth in some cases.
Fiber-rich foods aid weight loss and balance hormones. They also help to keep blood sugar levels steady. For these reasons, fiber may help prevent and slow the growth of fibroids. Add these whole foods to your diet:
- cooked and raw vegetables
- cooked, raw, and dried fruit
- whole grain bread and pasta
- cruciferous vegetables
Potassium helps to counter the effects of salt to balance blood pressureTrusted Source. Add these potassium-rich foods to your daily diet:
- collard greens
- oat bran
Add dairy products such as yogurt and full-fat cheese to your diet. Dairy is rich in calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. These minerals may help prevent fibroids and slow their growth. Fortified milk also contains vitamin D.
Green tea contains several antioxidants. A studyTrusted Source found that one of these, epigallocatechin gallate, may help slow the growth of fibroids by bringing down inflammation and high estrogen levels. Green tea may also improve symptoms of heavy bleeding due to fibroids, such as low iron.
Foods to avoid if you have fibroids
Sugary foods and simple carbohydrates may trigger or worsen fibroidsTrusted Source. These foods spike blood sugar levels. This causes your body to make too much insulin. Excess insulin can cause weight gain and affect fibroid growth.
Avoid refined carbs and added sugars such as:
- table sugar
- corn syrup
- high fructose corn syrup
- white bread, rice, pasta, and flour
- soda and sugary drinks
- fruit juice
- potato chips
- packaged energy bars
Some foods contain natural ingredients that mimic the estrogen in the body, called phytoestrogens. Other foods have added hormones or trigger your body to make more estrogen.
Some of these foods may have protective effects when consumed in small to moderate amounts, but have negative effects when consumed in high amountsTrusted Source. You may need to limit or avoid foods such as:
- red meat from sources that include added hormones
- soy beans
- soy milk
- flax seed
Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight is important for your overall health. You may not be able to prevent fibroids, no matter what precautions you take. See your doctor if you think you may be at risk or if you experience any changes in your health.
If you have fibroids, your doctor will determine the best type of treatment. Healthy diet and lifestyle changes are the first step to treating fibroids and relieving symptoms.
Following a diet plan is critical even if you have surgery, drug therapy, or other treatment for fibroids.
Your doctor may also recommend natural remedies, alternative pain relief, stress management, and supplements to help ease symptoms. Talk with your doctor and dietitian about the best diet plan for you and other ways to prevent and reduce the effects of fibroids.