According to nutritional therapy, diet and supplements can stabilize or even lower the levels of estrogen in the body. As estrogen amounts drop, existing fibroids should shrink and new ones can be prevented. Diet and supplements may also reduce some of the symptoms of fibroids.
One of the liver's roles in the body is to break down estrogens. Therefore, the diet should allow the liver to do its work and not include foods that can tax this organ. These taxing foods to be avoided include:
- dairy products
In addition, meat and dairy products can be a source of hormones (including estrogen) from livestock. Because they are also high in fat and estrogen is stored in fat cells, these foods may cause additional problems for women with fibroids. Instead, focus on eating fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, and raw seeds. These steps should also result in a diet that's high in fiber and low in fat.
The B vitamins also aid the liver and are recommended. They can be added in the form of whole foods (such as lentils, rice bran, and blackstrap molasses) or supplements. Vitamin B6, in particular, enhances the breakdown and removal of estrogen from the body.
Natural plant estrogens, called phytoestrogens, can actually compete with human estrogen in the body, resulting in an overall lower level of estrogen. Soybeans are a good food source of this substance and can be used as a whole cooked bean or in its other forms, including tofu, tempeh, and soy milk.
Researchers have linked heavy menstrual bleeding with low levels of vitamin A in the blood. One study gave women doses of vitamin A for 15 days, after which time menstrual bleeding was reduced in about 90 percent of the patients. To achieve proper levels of vitamin A in the body, most practitioners of nutritional therapy recommend eating foods rich in beta-carotene (such as carrots and sweet potatoes) or taking beta-carotene supplements. A naturopathic physician may recommend a program of several supplements to normalize estrogen levels, including B vitamins; vitamin E; beta-carotene; cysteine, methionine, choline, inositol (to help the liver metabolize estrogen and other substances more efficiently); and iron (if the fibroids cause heavy menstrual bleeding and anemia). Dietary recommendations include adopting a low-fat, high-fiber diet and avoiding meat, dairy products, eggs, refined sugar, and caffeine.