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Endometriosis, Inflammation, and Being Told “there is nothing wrong with you”…

Amanda picking up pepper

Endometriosis is a complex puzzle to unravel – imagine tissue that's supposed to stay in your uterus deciding to go on a field trip to places like your ovaries, fallopian tubes, or even your intestines! It's like having an uninvited guest that just won't leave, causing all sorts of chaos in your body.

Endometriosis has been classified as an inflammatory condition and has been associated with an increased likelihood for autoimmune conditions like Celiac disease, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, Sjogren’s syndrome and more. The chronic inflammatory state of endometriosis is responsible for the formation of painful lesions. The inflammatory nature of endometriosis highlights the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to managing the condition. The million dollar question is: HOW DO WE REDUCE INFLAMMATION IN THE BODY?

What has changed in our lives from 50 years ago that has triggered so many of us to be inflamed?!

  1. Well for one, our food system has radically changed -  our food is now made based on profit, not based on nutrient density. Food is produced at mass, and it is made to be quick, convenient and cheap, rather than to fuel our bodies.
  2. Our toxin exposure is higher. Potential toxins are in our cleaning products, makeup, soaps, sprayed on our produce, and even fed to the animals we eat.
  3. Third, we are all SO STRESSED as a society - we rush constantly and are expected to do all the things all the time. Rest is simply not prioritized. I’m pretty sure my grandma wasn’t working 10 hours a day, preparing meals, and taking care of the kids, all while trying to keep up with everyone on social media, comparing her own life to the rest of the world and feeling the pressure to level up. This is not to say that 50 years ago people didn’t experience stress; they most certainly did. But they also ate meals at the table without a computer or phone, spent time with their family un-interrupted, ate much more real whole food, and weren’t bombarded with toxins all day long.

So how do we get back to this place where we once were if our society and culture seems to make it impossible? We must be our own advocates. We can do that both in the doctors office and through choosing products that have a low toxic load (ie Branch Basics cleaning products & low tox makeup); choosing organic when possible (frozen fruits & veggies are a great, low cost solution to this!); and doing our best to have boundaries around screen time.

Now let’s get back to endometriosis, specifically…

Why is it important to talk about endometriosis? Well, for starters, many ladies out there are suffering in silence because not enough people know about the disease and the tremendous impact on the entire body. Oftentimes, women with undiagnosed endometriosis are told there is “nothing wrong with them” by their doctors because it is a difficult condition to diagnose. It can present with dozens of different symptoms including very painful menstrual cramps; pain during intercourse; heavy bleeding during periods or spotting between periods; infertility; painful bowel movements; chronic pelvic pain; abdominal bloating & more. Research shows that about 1 in 10 women have endometriosis and that about half of women with a diagnosis of infertility have the condition. Unfortunately, in the United States, on average, it can take about 10 years of experiencing symptoms for women to be properly diagnosed with endometriosis.

fresh vegetables on table

I want to share a little background on my personal experience so you can see where my passion for all of this comes from. At a young age, I began to experience excruciating periods that were so severe, I would often faint from the pain. The intense cramping made it difficult to carry out daily activities and impacted my overall quality of life. As I entered my early 20’s, my symptoms grew and I started to notice chronic pelvic pain that radiated to my hips and lower back. I always said I feel like an arthritic 80 year old! I was also super sensitive down there. Pelvic exams were always challenging for me and I never understood why. Then, in my mid 20’s I began to experience pain during intercourse, which was – of course – a lovely icing on the messy cake. In addition to the pelvic region, I also started to experience worsening gastrointestinal symptoms that were much later diagnosed as being caused by chronic Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). The presence of endometriosis made it more challenging to treat the SIBO effectively, as the inflammation and scar tissue associated with the condition created additional complications. Plus, I’ve also experienced some childhood trauma and have been in a state of fight or flight for most of my life, so my nervous system has always been a hot mess and I was blissfully unaware for most of it. Nervous system dysfunction is a very real thing that can certainly contribute to inflammation in the body. I suggest tuning into yourself to see if this is a piece to your puzzle, as most oftentimes, it is. This is all a recipe for chronic pain and inflammatory sh*t storm!

Living with these mystery health issues has taught me resilience, patience, and the importance of advocating for my own health. When I say no one was ever really able to help me besides ME, I mean it. I kept pushing, learning, digging, and navigating bits and pieces I learned from different health professionals – some who even set me back big time like when an LLMD misdiagnosed me with Lyme and had me on an intense Lyme protocol for a year even through my wedding! Ah! It has been a journey of self-discovery and empowerment, as I have learned to listen to my body.  I can’t emphasize the importance of that enough. If you don’t advocate for yourself no one else will, and I get it, when you don’t feel well it's freakin’ hard!

Sharing my story isn't about venting – it's about letting others know they're not alone in this battle. My story is why I became an Integrative Nutritionist. I learned so much in my journey and want to help others have the support that I didn’t have. I always say, I wish I had a ME 10 years ago. If my journey can help someone else recognize the signs, seek help, and navigate treatment options, then it's all worth it. So, let's keep the conversation going, raise awareness, and support each other through the ups and downs of dealing with endometriosis and ALL other chronic mystery conditions/symptoms when we are told “there is nothing wrong with us”, to not feel crazy and to be your own advocate and get to the bottom of the pain you are feeling.

And with that said, I would like to leave you with a few tips to lower inflammation and improve your endometriosis, in addition to working with an integrative practitioner who takes the time you deserve to listen & work with you.

  1. Aim to consume an anti-inflammatory diet. What does that mean? Incorporate fruits and vegetables, healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, and mindful portions of grass fed beef, wild caught seafood and pasture raised eggs. Aim to limit vegetable oils like corn and soybean oil, excess amounts of added sugar as well as excess alcohol.
  2. Consider supplementing with omega-3 fats. Research suggests that ingesting adequate omega-3 fats and having a desirable omega-3:omega-6 ratio can reduce the risk of endometriosis and potentially improve symptoms of endometriosis. Omega-3 rich foods include fatty fish (e.g salmon, sardines, mackerel) and pasture raised eggs.
  3. Make sure you’re getting in enough vitamin D! Studies have also shown a “negative relationship between vitamin D level and severity of endometriosis.”
  4. Find ways to manage stress, whether that’s deep breathing, meditation or yoga. You could also consider acupuncture! Small studies have shown it can help improve endometriosis symptoms.
  5. If suffering from GI symptoms like bloating, a temporary low FODMAP diet could be helpful.

There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases affecting about 24 million people in the U.S. These diseases develop when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy cells, tissues and organs, causing damage over time. According to the NIH, autoimmune disease is on the rise and at some of the highest numbers ever documented, according to a study published in April 2020.

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Amanda Malkin with vegetables

Amanda Malkin

Amanda is an integrative nutritionist who focuses on helping women create sustainably healthy, gut healing, balanced lifestyles that are inspired by, not controlled by health. With a focus on exploring the inner wisdom of the body, Amanda empowers individuals to take actionable steps towards achieving their goals while honoring their unique needs and boundaries. Through her expertise in holistic health, nutrition, and gut healing, Amanda helps women become allies to their body and mind, fostering a sense of empowerment in their health and overall well-being. By prioritizing health and understanding the body, Amanda's approach aims to instill confidence in making informed decisions for a healthier and more fulfilling life.

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