Uterine fibroids are a lifelong condition once diagnosed, but that doesn’t mean you cannot manage them without surgery. Though benign, fibroids can cause problems as they grow, but a balanced diet can keep critical hormones in check to slow the progression of fibroids. It’s important to know what foods impact these hormones and would be the worst foods for fibroids.
The primary hormones that impact fibroid progression are cortisol and estrogen, so avoiding inflammatory foods or foods that are high in estrogen (or convert into estrogen) is your first step. After that, it’s about getting adequate nutrition and ensuring healthy fats, proteins, and carbs make up the majority of your diet.
Let’s look at the foods you need to avoid if you have fibroids, and then some healthier counterparts that you can replace them with.
Worst foods for fibroids
The first thing to understand is that extra weight will negatively impact your hormone levels; weight loss is an effective measure for fibroids and other conditions like PCOS. Cutting out unhealthy foods that cause weight gain should be your primary goal before cutting out specific, hormone-imbalancing foods.
Refined sugar – including those found in fruit juices or honey – spike insulin and make you gain weight. Cutting out sugar can do a lot to increase weight loss, promote better hormonal balance, and improve your overall health. The average American gets over 200g of carbs per day, and usually, at least 50-75g of those carbs are pure sugar in one form or another. A better aim would be around 10g of added sugar per day at most
Factory-farmed meat and dairy
Unless you’re buying your milk, cheese, and meat from a local farmer, all of these things are loaded with hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. Buy from local farmers or buy organic at the store to avoid added hormones in your food.
Even though we consider whole grains to be healthy – and they are, in moderation – we have a tendency to over-portion them. At the end of the day, all carbs convert into blood sugar, which raises insulin and causes systemic inflammation and weight gain. Limit your carb intake to 150g or less per day. The closer you can get to between 50g and 100g each day, the faster you’ll lose weight and the better your blood sugar and insulin resistance will be.
Anything that stresses your liver can complicate the process of clearing out hormones and can stress your already stressed-out body. Keeping alcohol intake low is a good way to keep your fibroids in check, improving liver health and helping you lose weight, all at the same time.
Fruit juice, soda, sweets – all of these things are sweetened from high-fructose corn syrup or just regular fructose. At first glance you might think fructose – the fruit sugar – is better for you than table sugar, but unfortunately, it’s a lot worse.
Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver, and in high quantities, causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can lead to scarring. Too much fructose causes weight gain and hormonal imbalance and is a primary driver of type 2 diabetes.
It’s honestly best to avoid fructose in any quantity unless you’re getting it with actual whole fruit, or small amounts of honey. Added fructose should be on your list of foods to never eat.
Sausage, pepperoni, jerky, and salami are all delicious but when eaten regularly can stress out your body through a combination of the red meats and preservatives used to make them. Avoid processed meats except in small amounts, and lower your levels of non-organic red meat as well.
Big, white-meat tuna, shark, swordfish, and other large ocean fish are packed with mercury, which causes hormonal imbalance. Opt for smaller, cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, or local freshwater varieties. The smaller the fish, the less time it will have had to accumulate mercury.
Too much salt taxes the kidneys and liver, creating an environment where cortisol can wreak havoc. Though around 2000mg of sodium per day is alright and likely necessary to keep your energy levels up, many Americans eat far more than that, between 3000-4000mg a day, and this excess salt may make your fibroids worse.
Foods to eat to manage fibroids
The best foods to eat for just health, in general, are whole fruits, vegetables, lean meats and cheeses, and whole grains in moderation. Avoiding processed, fatty, sugary foods is the first step, but building up a diet of whole, natural foods is the best way to ensure good health for years to come, and to limit the spread and growth of fibroids. Let’s look at foods that are perfect for this task:
Though potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn are fine in moderation, the better bet for health is to aim for leafy vegetables and greens. Spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and a slew of other non-starchy vegetables are packed with nutrition and fiber and can help lower your cholesterol and improve your blood lipids, along with balancing your hormones. 1
Read about the best high fiber keto foods.
Instead of eating processed and red meats, aim for chicken, fish, and pork. Still, opt for organic, locally sourced meats to avoid hormones, antibiotics and steroids and other unwanted additions to your food that can cause hormonal problems and aggravated your fibroids.
Eggs are incredibly healthy and despite scare-mongering, are perfectly healthy to eat every single day. They make a much better breakfast than cereal or toast, and they’re packed with healthy fats and protein. Opt for cage-free varieties when you can, as the more than chickens are fed grass and not grains, the better the omega-3 profile will be.
Quinoa, millet, and farro are all incredibly healthy, full of good fats and fiber, and they’re simply better options than wheat or oats. It’s also far more common that, when eating an ancestral grain, you’re simply eating the grain itself. When you ingest oats or wheat, it’s usually in an energy-dense but the nutrient-light format, like bread or sugary oatmeal.
PCOS and Fibroids
While there is a correlation between Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and fibroids, it is not clear if one causes the other. One study 2 did show a much higher rate of uterine fibroids in African-American women with PCOS, and one proposed mechanism for the development of uterine fibroids in PCOS is the imbalance between progesterone and estrogen levels 3 and irregular menstrual cycles. However, it’s still unclear if the two are directly linked or not.