Up to 77 percent of women have fibroids, according to “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Fibroids.” Many women have them and never know, but they can cause symptoms that significantly lower your quality of life. Eating the right foods helps to shrink fibroids by lowering estrogen levels naturally.
Fibroids are small, noncancerous growths on the uterus. In some cases, they can cause pain, excessive bleeding and even infertility. A surgical procedure to remove the uterus called a hysterectomy is a guaranteed way to get rid of fibroids. Although the cause of fibroids is unknown, fibroid growth is linked to estrogen, according to Medline Plus. Drugs can block or suppress estrogen in order to treat fibroids. Gonadotropin releasing hormone medication can shrink fibroids by 30 to 90 percent by causing the ovaries to stop making estrogen, according to “The New York Times.” Fibroids often shrink when women go through menopause, which is a time when they make less estrogen. Eating foods that reduce estrogen levels may therefore also shrink fibroids.
The most important thing you can do to combat fibroids with your diet is to eat a high-fiber diet of vegetable-based foods. Aim for at least 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily, according to the authors of “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause.” Apples, whole grains, oatmeal, nuts and seeds are all good sources of fiber. Eating a high-fiber diet helps significantly decrease your circulating estrogen levels. Too much estrogen causes your uterus to grow excessively, which sometimes causes fibroids. Less estrogen because of diet may cause your fibroids to shrink as your estrogen levels lower, just as fibroids shrink during menopause or when taking estrogen-lowering medications.
Eating a vegetable-based diet is important because plant foods contain substances called phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens. These substances bind themselves to the same cell receptors as estrogen. This blocks estrogen’s ability to affect your cells. Without the excess estrogen causing your uterus to grow, it can shrink along with your fibroids. Foods with high amounts of phytoestrogens include soy products, nuts, seeds and ground flaxseeds. Dr. Michael T. Murray, author of more than 30 books and a member of the Board of Regents of Bastyr University in Washington, recommends eating one to two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds every day.
Foods to avoid
Avoiding certain foods may also help lower estrogen levels. Dr. Murray suggests avoiding sugar, caffeine and saturated fat. The authors of “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause” also suggest that women with fibroids cut back on coffee, dairy products and non-organic meats to avoid contact with hormone drugs and pesticides.