Did you know the food you eat can increase your risk of developing fibroids?
Uterine fibroids affect about 35 million women in the United States. While the exact cause of these non-cancerous tumors isn’t known, medical researchers know several different factors — including diet — increase your risk of developing fibroids or making existing fibroids worse.
At Alate Health, board-certified radiologist Dr. Andrew Doe helps women in Houston, Texas, by diagnosing and treating uterine fibroids. Our team is also committed to helping women do all they can to prevent fibroids from developing and stop existing fibroids from growing.
While some factors, like genetics, are out of your control, making simple changes to the foods you eat could reduce the odds you develop fibroids and keep any fibroids you have under control.
Keep reading to learn more about the link between diet and fibroids!
What are fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) fibrous and muscular tumors that vary in size from about as small as an apple seed to the size of a large grapefruit. These tumors grow into the wall of your uterus, though depending on the type of fibroid, they can grow in different places inside the wall.
Uterine fibroids are very common. In fact, up to 80% of women will have one or more fibroids by the time they turn 50. That doesn’t mean they don’t cause significant trouble and even debilitating symptoms for many women.
What are the symptoms of fibroids?
Fibroid symptoms vary between patients based on the number of fibroids present, where the fibroids are positioned, and how large or small they are. As such, if you suspect you have fibroids, being evaluated by a trained medical provider is key to obtaining a diagnosis.
Some of the common symptoms associated with fibroids include:
- Pelvic pain
- Heavy bleeding
- Large blood clots
- Periods that last past seven days
- Severe or increased menstrual cramping
- Pain in the lower back
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying your bladder
- Noticeable swelling in the lower abdomen
- Painful intercourse
What is the link between diet and fibroids?
Fibroid development has been linked to higher estrogen levels. The foods you eat contribute to your body’s estrogen levels. When you eat foods that increase estrogen, you increase your chances of developing fibroids or making existing fibroids worse.
Unprocessed, plant-based foods, like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains and starches help regulate your hormones naturally. Medical researchers are still studying the connection between diet and fibroids, but they’ve found diets high in green vegetables and unprocessed plant-based foods are highly correlated to a reduced risk of developing fibroids.
Diets high in meat and dairy, on the other hand, increase the levels of estrogen in your body. The result? Meat and dairy are linked to an increased risk of developing fibroids as well as developing larger fibroids.
What diet should I follow to avoid fibroids?
The good news is that the dietary recommendations for fibroids are the same for improving your overall health. They also help you manage your weight, which is beneficial since being overweight or obese also increases your risk of developing fibroids.
Here’s a closer look at what to include in your diet to prevent fibroids or keep existing fibroids under control:
- A variety of fresh and cooked vegetables (especially greens!)
- A variety of bright, colorful fruits
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains and starches (e.g., brown rice, quinoa, barley)
- Foods high in potassium (e.g., bananas, potatoes, tomatoes)
Now that you know what to eat, here’s a look at which foods you should reduce or cut out to lower your risk of developing fibroids:
- Red meats
- All processed meats
- High-fat meats from other sources
- All processed foods
- All added sugars and processed sugars
- High-sodium foods
- Sodas and sugary drinks
If you have more questions about the link between your diet and fibroids, the team at Alate Health can answer your questions and address any concerns you have.
Can fibroids be treated?
Yes! Every patient’s needs are unique, so at Alate Health, we customize your treatment plan taking into account your lifestyle, type, size, and position of the fibroids, and any risks they may present.
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive way to safely and effectively reduce existing uterine fibroids’ size. By stopping or slowing the supply of blood fibroids need to grow, UFE can shrink the tumors and alleviate problematic symptoms.
If you want to discover more about diet and fibroids or want to discuss diagnosis and treatment, the friendly team at Alate Health is here to help. Contact us by calling 713-893-0650 today or request an appointment online now!