Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop on the wall of a woman's uterus. They vary greatly in size: Some are very small and cause no symptoms, while others grow large and cause significant impairment. Some symptoms may include lower-back pain, heavy bleeding and pain during sex. Scientists don't agree on one specific diet for managing uterine fibroids, but evidence suggests making certain dietary changes may help manage your condition.
Avoid Red Meat and Ham
Eating a diet rich in red meat and ham increases the risk of fibroids, according to the Office on Women's Health. Scientists have yet to determine the exact mechanism behind this link. However, you should avoid these foods if you have fibroids, according to obstetrician Allan Warshowsky, author of "Healing Fibroids: A Doctor's Guide to a Natural Cure." Warshowsky theorizes that red meat may increase estrogen, which can promote fibroid growth.
A diet rich in green vegetables appears to protect women against fibroids, according to the Office on Women's Health. Warshowsky recommends increasing your intake if you have uterine fibroids. You can eat more green veggies by adding one or more cups of green vegetables to your main meals and preparing salads with meals, between meals and as snacks. Some green veggies to get you started include kale, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, Swiss chard and endive.
Boost Your Dairy Intake
A population study published in the January 2010 issue of the "American Journal of Epidemiology" found a link between fibroids and dairy intake. Researchers found that women who ate two or more servings of dairy per day significantly lowered their risk of fibroids, compared to those who ate less than one serving each week. You can boost your dairy intake by snacking on low-fat yogurt; adding reduced-fat cheese to your salads, snacks and meals; and eating other dairy foods such as cottage cheese, cream cheese and skim milk.
Follow a Low-Glycemic Diet
A high-glycemic diet may stimulate fibroid growth by increasing estrogen availability, according to a study in the May 2010 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." The glycemic index ranks carbohydrate foods based on how they affect your blood glucose levels. Low-glycemic foods such as brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat cause a mild, gradual rise in blood sugar. High-glycemic foods, such as white rice, white bread and other refined carbohydrates, cause a sharp, dramatic rise in blood glucose. A low-glycemic diet is rich in vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low GI fruits such as berries. A dietitian can help you design a low-glycemic meal plan to meet your needs.
- WomensHealth.gov: Uterine Fibroids Fact Sheet
- Healing Fibroids: A Doctor's Guide to a Natural Cure; Allan Warshowsky, M.D., and Elena Oumano
- American Journal of Epidemiology: A Prospective Study of Dairy Intake and Risk of Uterine Leiomyomata
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Dietary Glycemic Index and Load in Relation to Risk of Uterine Leiomyomata in the Black Women's Health Study