Endometriosis Diet: A Complete Guide

Medically Reviewed By Jenneh Rishe, RN

There is no set endometriosis diet. However, research suggests that some nutritional approaches may help prevent or alleviate endometriosis symptoms. These diets include anti-inflammatory or plant-based diets. Endometriosis occurs when tissues similar to the uterus lining, lesions, and unnecessary blood vessels develop outside of the uterus.

More research is needed to understand fully how diet affects endometriosis. Endometriosis also may not be treatable with diet alone. However, several recent studies suggest that some dietary factors may affect endometriosis, leading to symptom improvement.

Read more about endometriosis diet approaches supported by research. This article explains what to eat and what to limit, and supplements that may help.

Foods to include 

Someone holds a poke bowl of rice, green vegetables, and salmon.
alvarez/Getty Images

Inflammation is a key feature Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source of endometriosis. Therefore, many dietary suggestions focus on decreasing inflammation via nutrition. 

The following foods and ingredients may help reduce inflammation or alleviate other aspects of endometriosis.

Omega-3 fatty acids

A 2022 review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source of previous studies suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help:

  • decrease signs of inflammation
  • reduce the growth of unnecessary blood vessels in endometriosis tissues
  • inhibit endometrial cells

Research also suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce endometriosis-related pain. For example, a 2020 trial Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source reported that people who took 1000 milligrams of fish oil supplements had reduced pain scores.

Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include Trusted Source National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements Governmental authority Go to source :

  • chia seeds, flaxseed, and flaxseed oil
  • canola or soybean oil
  • English or black walnuts
  • edamame
  • kidney beans
  • some Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source seaweed or algae, such as nori, spirulina, and algal oil
  • fatty fish, such as:
    • salmon
    • herring
    • mackerel
    • sardines
    • trout
    • sea bass

Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian before taking omega-3 supplements. Dosage, safety, and effectiveness can vary per person.

Learn more about omega-3 doses and benefits.

Fiber-rich foods

Endometriosis can cause Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source high levels of estrogen. Estrogen may worsen Trusted Source World Health Organization Highly respected international organization Go to source inflammation, endometriosis tissue growth, and pain.

However, research suggests Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source that increasing dietary fiber and reducing dietary fat intake may help reduce estrogen levels. In turn, this may help alleviate or prevent some of its effects.

Foods high in fiber also tend to reduce Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source inflammation.

Fiber-rich foods include Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source :

  • whole grains, such as oats, brown rice and bread, maize, and rye
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • legumes, such as peas, pulses, and beans
  • nuts and seeds

If you plan to increase fiber intake, consider doing so gradually. This can help reduce the risk of temporary digestive symptoms, such as gas.

Learn more about fiber intake, food sources, and types.

Mineral- and vitamin-rich foods

Several minerals and vitamins may play an important role in managing endometriosis, including:

  • Magnesium: Magnesium helps relax Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source smooth muscles and may help ease pain from uterine cramps. You can get magnesium through nuts, grains, and spinach. 
  • Zinc: Research into zinc for endometriosis is currently limited. However, experts believe that zinc generally helps decrease inflammation and support the immune system. Both of these properties can have beneficial effects for people with endometriosis. Foods high in zinc include some shellfish, poultry, and beans.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C may be anti-inflammatory and help reduce unnecessary blood vessel growth. A 2015 study also suggests that vitamin C injections may have helped reduce the size of endometriosis growths in rats. Vitamin C food sources include Trusted Source National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements Governmental authority Go to source bell peppers, citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, and broccoli.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D may help increase anti-inflammatory immune cells. Other studies show it may also help reduce pain from endometriosis. Researchers have also observed that people with endometriosis tend to have low levels of vitamin D. Find vitamin D in fatty fish, egg yolk, and fortified cereals or milk.

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is an eating pattern known Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source for its potential anti-inflammatory effects. The diet prioritizes anti-inflammatory foods and sources of vitamins and minerals, including:

  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • minimally processed foods
  • olive oil
  • fatty fish
  • lean or plant-based proteins

Studies suggest that following a Mediterranean diet may help reduce pain from endometriosis.

Read more about how to follow a Mediterranean diet, including foods to include and limit.

Foods to limit

Certain foods may worsen Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source endometriosis symptoms by increasing inflammation and estrogen levels. These foods include: 

  • red meat
  • highly processed foods
  • foods with added sugar
  • coffee
  • alcohol

According to a 2021 study, some people removed gluten, dairy, and soy from their diet. They experienced improvements in their symptoms and better quality of life.

However, trigger foods can vary widely per person. In addition, some of these foods, such as gluten, dairy, and soy, offer nutritional benefits. Always talk with a doctor or registered dietitian before making significant changes to your diet or completely eliminating a food.

It may be fine for you to eat some of these foods in moderation or alongside other dietary changes.

See more remedies for endometriosis symptoms.

Supplements for endometriosis

According to research, several supplements show promising results Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source for managing endometriosis symptoms. These include: 

  • Quercetin: This compound may decrease estrogen levels and slow the growth of endometriosis cells. 
  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC): NAC may help decrease inflammation and reduce endometriosis lesions and cell growth.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics may enhance the immune response and improve the body’s ability to absorb vitamins.
  • Resveratrol: Resveratrol can decrease the growth of blood cells in endometriosis tissue and reduce endometriosis lesions.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid: This powerful antioxidant may help decrease pain from endometriosis.

Learn more about herbs, supplements, and natural remedies for endometriosis.

Always talk with a doctor before taking supplements

Talk with a doctor before taking supplements, changing supplement products, or trying home remedies to treat a condition. This includes before taking vitamin or mineral products.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate Trusted Source Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Governmental authority Go to source supplements for safety, effectiveness, and truth of their claims. Sometimes, supplement labels do not accurately report the ingredients or effects of the product.

Also, some people may experience side effects or allergic reactions, and appropriate doses can vary widely per person.

Summary

Certain foods may alleviate endometriosis pain and reduce growths by reducing inflammation and estrogen levels. Foods to try include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

On the other hand, foods such as red meat, highly processed foods, and alcohol may contribute to inflammation and endometriosis symptoms.

Contact a doctor if you have questions about endometriosis and diet or improving your treatment. Always talk with a doctor before making any significant dietary changes or trying supplements.

Was this helpful?
0

Medical Reviewer: Jenneh Rishe, RN
Last Review Date: 2023 Dec 20
View All Endometriosis Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.