Alcohol for Endometriosis

When it comes to fertility, alcohol is something else you should consider giving up. The same researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health that investigated caffeine and conception in women with endometriosis looked at the effect of alco-hol.8 They determined that women who drank a moderate amount of alcohol—i.e., one or two drinks a day—had a 60 percent higher risk of infertility compared to non-drinkers. Instead of having a glass of wine, pour yourself a glass of sparkling mineral water with a slice of lime. Or try some of the non-alcoholic wines or beers available in supermarkets and liquor stores. If you’re looking for a cocktail, I suggest a virgin Caesar, tomato juice or a glass of soda water with a splash of cranberry juice.

Like caffeine, alcohol can also increase your bowel discomfort. If you are not trying to get pregnant and just want to minimize the effect of alcohol on your gut, try the following: drink alcohol with a meal or snack; drink no more than one drink every hour; try alternating one alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic drink.

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Food Sensitivities

If your endometriosis is causing bowel discomfort, there are a handful of foods and spices that may aggravate your symptoms. You might already know what these are. If you are unsure, I recommend you keep a food and symptom diary for a two-week period. Record everything you eat, how much of the food you eat and any symptoms you feel. If you are working with a consulting dietitian, she or he will use this tool to identify culprits.

It can be difficult to detect foods that are causing you grief because a particular food may not bother you all of the time. Sometimes it isn’t what you ate, but how much of the food you ate, how quickly you ate, how many trigger foods you ate in one day or how much stress you were under at the time. Use your food diary to look for patterns, not just specific foods.

To help you pinpoint potential trigger foods, here is a list of foods that often cause intestinal problems in my clients with endometriosis:

• Caffeine and alcohol (as discussed above)

• Artificial sweeteners

• High-fat and/or high-calorie meals Both dietary fat and large meals have a greater stimulating effect on colon contractions.

• Excessive sugar from soft drinks, candy and sweets. Often soft drinks cause problems due to the sugar, caffeine and carbonation.

• Dairy products Some women don’t produce enough of an enzyme called lactase in their intestinal tract. Lactase breaks down the natural milk sugar, lactose. In this case, lactose remains undigested in the intestinal tract, causing bloating, gas and diarrhea. If you have moderate lactose intolerance, chances are you can still handle yogurt, as it has much less lactose than milk. And hard cheeses have even less lactose. If you are symptomatic, try lactose-reduced milk and yogurt (e.g., Lactaid®). Or buy Lactaid® pills at the pharmacy; take a pill before a meal with dairy. Alternatives to dairy include calcium-fortified soy and rice beverages.

• Wheat In some women with endometriosis, bloating, distention and gas is caused by an intolerance to wheat-based foods. This can be a problem since wheat is such a staple in our diet. Just think of all the wheat we eat each and every day—bread, bagels, muffins, pasta, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, crackers and baked goods are all made from wheat flour. If you are unsure if wheat is causing your gas and bloating, try eliminating it from your diet for two weeks. Do your symptoms improve? Then, slowly add it back to your diet. Every two days, add a new wheat food. Do your symptoms return? Alternatives to wheat include rice, rice pasta, rice crackers, quinoa, quinoa pasta, millet, potato, sweet potato, corn, rye and oats. A good health food store will have many products—breakfast cereals, pasta, crackers, cookies and breads—that are made from grains other than wheat. Some of these foods, like rice pasta and rice crackers, are available in large grocery stores.

• Raw vegetables Be sure to cook your veggies to reduce potential gas formation. Gassy vegetables include bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radishes, rutabaga, onions and fresh garlic.

• Legumes such as kidney beans, chickpeas and black beans. A natural sugar in dried peas, beans and lentils often causes gas and bloating. To reduce potential symptoms, rinse your beans before you add them to recipes and eat a smaller portion. Try Beano™, a natural enzyme available at pharmacies and health food stores that breaks down the sugar—just a few drops on your food is all it takes.

• Certain fruits, including berries, apple with the peel, melon and prunes.

• Nuts and seeds

• Spices such as chili powder, curry, ginger, garlic, hot sauce

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