Endometriosis and the Immune System
My Top Supplements and Super Foods for a Stronger Immune Body
For the past 12 months, I’ve been exceptionally lucky. My last real cold was October 2015. Endometriosis has been strongly linked to a weakened immune system, and many women find themselves catching everything that comes their way, on top of dealing with the symptoms of endometriosis and other conditions it’s associated with, such as IBS and eczema. I’ve had what seems to be the beginnings of a cold, or a few days of feeling slightly under the weather, but it’s never turned into the full-blown whammy. A lot of the time, I get flu symptoms the day before my period and then they disappear once it arrives and I’ve heard other endosisters say the same.
But this week, finally, that good old common cold caught up with me, and it was a hell of a shock to the system. I got through the week and went to work, but I only managed that by coming home, eating well and going to sleep before 9pm. It got me thinking about why how dreaded autumn cold eventually caught up with me, - why now? I’m in a much better place mentally, I have more energy, less pain, I’m enjoying life more. I had expected to get ill at every turn pre-operation, my body and mind felt like it was at breaking point, so it seemed to me the perfect mix for bugs to get their claws in. But no, it gets me when I’m strong.
So what’s the difference? Although I was aware of this happening, I realised I fell ill once all my supplements and ‘super foods’ had run out. I’ve had a heap of things to pay for this summer, so bit by bit I haven’t been replacing things. I kept going for a while, but I guess the storage of goodies in my body finally got to a low, and the troops set in. I like to keep my body perked up with various health foods and supplements, this might not be necessary for your average Joe, but when you’ve been struggling to make it through the day, you know you need to up your game. Plus, endometriosis requires specific nutrients to keep it at bay, so I use some supplements for this too.
Now I’ve realised what an impact these were having on me in the past year and how they’ve kept me going through some tough times without getting ill, and have generally supported my body in the fight against endo, I thought I’d share with you my regular buys.
Supplements and Super Foods for Endometriosis
Viridian Vegan EPA and DHA oil – This is oil is packed full of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are excellent anti-inflammatories and also important for healthy hormone function. Reducing inflammation helps reduce pain levels, and omega 3s have been show to have a significant impact on the levels of endometriosis pain in the pelvic area. Also, inflammation has now been strongly linked to depression, which many women with endometriosis suffer from and can also hinder the body’s ability to heal. Of course, you can use fish oil capsules, but I’m vegan, so I go for this one. Viridian’s vegan oil provides a form that’s easily absorbed, whereas many plant-based sources of fatty acids are not so easy for us to convert into usable nutrients – it’s pricey, but worth it basically.
BioCare Vitasorb B – B vitamins are essential to immune support, but are also needed for energy and mental health. They help support cognitive functions and the release of serotonin and dopamine.
Curcumin – Curcumin is the chemical compound found in turmeric and other plants. However, it has a poor level of absorption, so using the extract or eating it with black pepper (which aids absorption), is the best way to get this nutrient. It is an effective anti-inflammatory, which is now linked to improving symptoms of depression.
Holland and Barrett’s Vegan Multivitamin and Mineral tablets – of course, it’s always a good idea to take a vitamin supplement, in addition to eating a healthy variety of fruit and vegetables. It does contain B vitamins, but whether they are easily absorbed I am not too clear on. I would prefer to take a higher quality vitamin supplement, but these do the job for now!
Magnesium – most of us are deficient in magnesium (I’m not making this up, knowledge from a nutritionist!) and not only is magnesium essential for regulating biochemical reactions in our bodies, such as nerve function, but it also relaxes muscles. As a result, magnesium has been shown to be very effective on reducing menstrual cramps and back pain. I take tablets when I remember, but also rub in the oil when I’m in pain or know I’m due on.
Baobab powder – this stuff kind of reminds me of sherbet and has a subtle enough taste to go in breakfasts, smoothies, drinks and desserts. It is PACKED out with vitamin C, which supports immunity and maximizes iron take (which we endosisters are usually lacking in). It’s also rich in B vits, which again support the immune system.
Chlorella – this green beauty lasts forever because I only use half a teaspoon a day. Chlorella has been shown to speed up immune system recovery and tissue repair and renewal. Another bonus and one I know so many endo sufferers will appreciate, is that it can support a digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Astragalus powder – I love this stuff, I felt a noticeable difference in my well being when I introduced this into my diet. It strengthens a weakened immune system, reduces inflammation and helps with allergies by balancing histamine (did you know women with endometriosis are more likely to have allergies?). It also supports the adrenal glands, which can be weakened in women with endometriosis because of the level of stress they are usually under and can lead to adrenal fatigue.
Bee Pollen – Generally a good all rounder, as it is the richest source of vitamins in a single food. It includes B vitamins, amino and fatty acids and protein, which helps our body repair.
Cacao – not only does this make my smoothies and desserts taste amazing, but it boosts feelings of well being and supports the body with iron and magnesium. Both iron and magnesium are important for energy!
I appreciate that this all may seem like quite a lot to stock up on and not to mention costly, but I did it over time and things don't normally run out for a while. These are the products that have worked for me, but look at your symptoms and body and work out what you feel you could benefit and start from there. There's plenty of supplements out there which are recommended for those with endometriosis, so have a look around and pick up some books on the subject if you'd like some more information.
Let me know how you get on!