In this blog post: learn how to shrink fibroids fast by making small changes to your diet and lifestyle.
As a Black woman with several family members and friends who battle fibroids daily, I understand the distress this condition causes.
Heavy periods, back pain, abdominal pain and constipation are just the tip of the iceberg. Infertility, pregnancy complications and hysterectomies are some of the more severe consequences of this dreadful condition.
Fibroids affect women of all races, but they are larger, more common and more severe in Black women. Black women have a 2-3-fold greater risk of fibroids than Hispanic, Asian and Caucasian women. Fibroids start earlier in Black women, and research shows that by age 35, 60% of Black women have fibroids increasing to >80% by age 50, compared with 40% in Caucasian women at age 35 and almost 70% by age 50.
Black women are 2.4-times more likely to have a hysterectomy and 6.8-times more likely to have a uterus-sparing myomectomy than other races.
Why are fibroids more common and more severe in Black women?
We still don’t know.
However, we do know that environmental, genetic and dietary factors impact severity. Before we explore diet, let’s discuss the basics.
WHAT ARE FIBROIDS?
Fibroids, also known as myomas or leiomyomas, are non-cancerous tumours made up of muscle and fibrous tissue that grow in or around the uterus (womb).
Fibroids range in size from a few millimetres (pea) to massive growths of 20cm diameter and more (melon). There are three main types:
- Intramural – develop in the muscle wall of the womb
- Subserosal – develop outside the wall of the womb and grow into the pelvis
- Submucosal – develop in the muscle layer under the womb’s inner lining and grow into the womb
Black women usually have intramural fibroids.
WHAT CAUSES FIBROIDS?
Scientists are still unsure of the cause. But hormonal imbalances play a role because fibroids rarely start before puberty, are common during the reproductive years and shrink after menopause.
More studies are required, but scientists have discovered genetic alterations and mutations on chromosome 12 and 7, and signalling pathways in people with fibroids.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FIBROIDS?
Not every woman with fibroids display symptoms. When they exist, symptoms may include:
- Heavy, irregular, and prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Pelvic pain
- Frequent need to pee
- Recurrent abortions
WHAT FACTORS AFFECT YOUR RISK OF FIBROIDS?
If you have a first degree relative with fibroids, you have a higher risk of developing them. Women with a family history of uterine fibroids are three times more likely to have fibroids than those without a history.
Smoking increases the risk of fibroids in underweight Thai and Italian women, but there is currently no link between smoking and fibroids in Black women.
Many studies show that having a baby reduces the risk of fibroids. And the risk of fibroids reduces after each birth.Japanese women with three or more successful pregnancies had a 20% lower risk of developing uterine fibroids than women without successful pregnancies. However, in Black women, there is no additional reduction in risk after one birth.
It is worth noting that induced abortion increases the risk of fibroids.
According to Italian studies and the Nurses’ Health Study II, oral contraceptives lower the risk of fibroids. A multicentre- case-control study in Thailand also showed a 24% lower risk of uterine fibroids in women who used oral contraceptives than those who had never used them.
Progestin-only contraceptives are associated with a 40% lower risk of fibroids in Black women.
Obesity, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, exposure to plastic products, cosmetics, frequent intake of milk and soybean, particularly in Chinese women are other factors associated with an increased risk of fibroids.
Studies in Black women show that women with a family history of fibroids and formula-fed with soya milk had larger fibroids than those who didn’t use soy-based formula milk.
LIFESTYLE, DIET AND FIBROIDS
Physical activity, stress, diet, alcohol and caffeine consumption affect your risk of developing fibroids.
Exercise reduces the amount of oestrogen and progesterone in your bloodstream, as well as your insulin levels, lowering your risk of fibroids. Studies show a lower incidence of fibroids in Black women who exercise for at least seven hours per week than those who do not (less than two hours per week).
Your risk of fibroids is high if you drink alcohol, particularly beer, and caffeinated drinks frequently. Beer contains high levels of phytoestrogens. Caffeine has a stronger effect on fibroids in younger Black women than in older women.
Observational studies show that a high intake of red meat, including beef and ham, increases fibroid risk, while fish decreases it. High intakes of fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes and apples also reduce fibroid risk by blocking crucial signalling pathways that encourage fibroid growth.
Many studies show that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of fibroids, particularly in Black women. In vitamin D-deficient Iranian women, a 10-week vitamin D supplementation programme reduced fibroid size by approximately 10mm.
DIETARY PHYTOCHEMICALS SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN TO SHRINK FIBROIDS
Several dietary phytochemicals arrest the growth of fibroid cells and induce spontaneous death. Scientists have researched some of these phytochemicals only in cell culture studies, and have examined others in randomised clinical control trials.
The compounds scientifically proven to shrink fibroids include:
Epigallocatechin gallate is rich in green tea. In cell culture studies, this compound stops growth and destroys fibroid cells. Clinical trials also show that green tea extract shrink fibroids and symptom severity and significantly improves life quality.
Curcumin is rich in turmeric. Cell culture studies show that curcumin prevents fibroid growth.
Isoliquiritigenin is rich in liquorice, shallots and soybean
Genistein is rich in soybeans and fava beans
Resveratrol is rich in mulberries, peanuts and grapes
Other phytochemicals that could prevent inflammation and shrink fibroids and improve symptoms include:
Allicin is a sulphur-rich compound found in garlic.
Ellagic acid is a polyphenol compound rich in berries including strawberries, pomegranates, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries and grapes.
Indole-3-carbinol is a compound rich in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, collard greens, mustard greens, kale, Chinese cabbage, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, rocket (arugula), watercress, and daikon.
Lycopene is a carotenoid compound rich in tomato, watermelon, papaya, pink guava, pink grapefruit and apricots.
Quercetin is a flavonol present in tea, lemon, tomato, onion leaves and strawberries.
Sulforaphane is an isothiocyanate rich in broccoli and sprouting broccoli. It is also present in Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choi and Chinese cabbage.
Ursolic acid is a 5-ring compound found in apples, basil, cranberries, peppermint, rosemary, oregano and prunes.
HOW TO EAT TO SHRINK FIBROIDS
1 | Eat a low glycaemic index diet
The glycaemic index (G.I.) measures how quickly the carbohydrates you eat affect your blood sugar. Refined carbohydrates such as sweets, cakes, white rice and white bread increase your blood sugar much faster than whole foods such as berries, legumes, vegetables and fish.
Consistently eating large amounts of refined carbohydrates can lead to hyperinsulinemia – high glucose levels and insulin resistance in your liver, muscles and fat tissues.
High insulin increases insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) and lowers the levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) in your circulation. These changes are detrimental to your fibroids.
Because they increase the amount of oestrogen in your bloodstream and encourage your fibroid cells to grow and multiply.
Epidemiological studies confirm the association between a high G.I. diet and the increased risk of fibroids.
To prevent or at least lower the risk of this happening, choose whole foods often. When you eat whole grains and starchy carbohydrates, pair them with a source of quality protein to keep your blood sugar balanced.
2 | Eat plenty of fruits and green leafy vegetables
Epidemiological studies associate diets rich in fruits and vegetables with a lower incidence of fibroids. Other studies show that fruits and green leafy vegetables contain phytochemicals that destroy fibroid cells.
Green leafy vegetables are rich in folic acid and magnesium. Both nutrients are essential cofactors for detoxification pathways in your liver.
Your body also uses magnesium to make glutathione, a crucial antioxidant for neutralising harmful oestrogen by-products.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and sulphur-containing vegetables like garlic contain phytochemicals that directly destroy fibroid cells. These vegetables also support the liver with oestrogen detoxification.
3 | Eat fibre-rich foods
Fibre binds to oestrogen by-products in your gut and stops your duodenal cells from reabsorbing them into your bloodstream.
Fibre can also contribute to satiety and promote weight loss if you’re overweight. Epidemiological studies show a clear link between obesity and fibroid risk.
Eat high-fibre foods such as oats, brown rice, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), vegetables, nuts and seeds. And aim to eat at least 30g of fibre per day.
If you currently eat a low fibre diet, increase your fibre intake slowly as drastic increases can lead to stomach discomfort.
4 | Eat omega-3-rich foods
Inflammation is a critical component of fibroids.
Omega-3 fats are potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the primary anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, and they are present in oily fish.
EPA increases beneficial oestrogen by-products and reduces harmful oestrogen by-products. EPA also reduces inflammatory prostaglandins and lowers inflammation.
Eat oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, herring, trout and salmon. Plant foods including walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds are good sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) form of omega-3 fats.
Your body needs to convert ALA into EPA and DHA. Unfortunately, conversion rates are <10% for most people. Take this into account if you eat a restricted diet.
5 | Eat Vitamin-D rich foods and supplement
Vitamin D is rich in oily fish, UV-treated mushrooms, cereals, and in fortified dairy-alternative products. Take a 10ug vitamin D supplement daily.
6 | Avoid Trans fats
Avoid trans- oxidised and hydrogenated fats often present in margarine and processed foods. Trans fat can damage your cell membranes and promote inflammation.
Avoid cooking with vegetable and seed oils, particularly if you need to heat them to high temperatures. Cook with coconut oil, olive oil or ghee instead.
Now, it’s up to you…
Infertility, miscarriages, back pain, abdominal discomfort and heavy menstrual bleeding don’t have to remain your reality.
You now have a clear guide to help you reduce your symptoms and shrink your fibroids. Implement these dietary changes at a pace that suits you and be consistent!
You may see results in as little as 30 days with consistency, so, give it your best shot.
I’m rooting for YOU!
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