A uterine fibroid is an abnormal growth of excess smooth muscle tissue, collagen, and fibrous tissue within the wall of the uterus. These fibroids can cause symptoms such as abnormal menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, or urinary problems.
Fibroids affect 1 in 4 women by age 40 and up to 50 percent of all women by menopause.
If you are one of the millions of women who have uterine fibroids, chances are good that you’ve tried a fair share of different diets to shrink fibroids. But can diet alone really help you lose weight, shrink fibroids and relieve symptoms?
Although medical professionals are quick to recommend that you undergo surgery, if you take proactive steps to optimize your health, there is a very good chance that your fibroids can shrink while remaining benign.
What Research Says About Diet and Uterine Fibroids
The association between diet and uterine fibroids is unclear. A number of studies have examined the relationship between dietary factors and uterine fibroids, but no definitive conclusions have been reached.
Several studies have reported that diets low in calcium or vitamin D may increase the risk of developing uterine fibroids, while other research suggests that increasing dietary fiber intake may decrease your risk of developing fibroids.
Research also suggests that eating a lot of red meat or processed meats can increase your risk of developing uterine fibroids.
By decreasing the amount of certain foods you eat and increasing others, you may be able to lower your risk of developing fibroids.
Moderate weight loss may be an effective treatment for reducing symptoms of uterine fibroids, including pain and heavy bleeding.
If you have fibroids, you may want to consider changing your diet to reduce your chances of developing more. If you’re overweight or obese, losing even 5 percent of your body weight could make a difference.
How Poor Diet Can Contribute to Uterine Fibroids
A poor diet can increase the risk of uterine fibroids. Here are some foods you might want to avoid:
Sugar is a common ingredient in processed foods and beverages, but it’s also found naturally in foods such as fruits and dairy products. Refined sugar is made by processing raw sugarcane or sugar beets into white crystals that have been stripped of most nutrients.
The health effects of artificial sweeteners are still being studied, but they’re believed to have a negative effect on gut bacteria and may increase the risk of cancer.
Trans fats are produced when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil during food manufacturing processes, making it solid at room temperature (like margarine). Trans fats have been shown to increase inflammation, which leads to heart disease and other health problems.
Artificial Colors or Flavors (AFCs)
AFCs are added to many processed foods in order to improve their appearance, taste, or texture — but they aren’t required by law to be listed on packaging labels because they don’t contain calories or nutritional value.
Avoiding these additives may help reduce your risk for fibroids if you do not already have them; however, there isn’t enough evidence yet to prove that AFCs cause fibroids.
What About Exercise?
Exercise is a good way to improve your overall health and well-being. In addition, women who exercise at least three times a week have lower levels of estrogen than women who don’t exercise regularly.
This means that exercising may help lower your risk of developing uterine fibroids.
The best exercises for women with fibroids include those that strengthen the muscles around the pelvis and lower back area (like squats) because they will help stabilize the pelvis and decrease stress on the abdominal cavity.
Strength training also helps build muscle mass which can help offset some of the weight gain caused by estrogen.
Exercise Can Improve Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids By:
Food and Beverages That May Help Reduce Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
Foods that may protect you against uterine fibroids include:
Food and Beverages to Avoid with Uterine Fibroids
While you may not be able to change your genetics or the size of your fibroids, there are some steps you can take to help lower your risk of developing uterine fibroids.
Some dietary changes can help reduce your risk of developing uterine fibroids. To get started, consider avoiding the following foods:
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you shrink fibroids with diet and weight loss?
It’s not possible to shrink fibroids from a dietary perspective. However, if you lose weight through dieting and exercise, the excess pounds you shed might take your fibroid symptoms along with them.
Will a low-sugar diet help reduce fibroid symptoms?
A low-sugar diet is not a specific treatment for fibroids, but it can help reduce symptoms. Avoiding sugar and other refined carbohydrates helps keep blood sugar levels balanced and reduces cravings for sweets.
Will eating more fruits and vegetables reduce the size of my fibroids?
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is a good way to improve your overall health. Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that support good digestion and reduce inflammation. Eating plenty of fresh produce helps prevent constipation—another common symptom of fibroids.
What is the best dietary approach for women with fibroids?
There is no one-size-fits-all diet for treating fibroids. However, researchers have found that a high-fiber diet (30 grams per day) can help reduce symptoms such as pain and heavy bleeding. Fibroids are benign tumors that grow from muscle tissue in the uterus.
How big can fibroids get?
Fibroids can grow to be the size of a grapefruit or a melon (about six inches in diameter). If they grow larger than this, they may cause problems such as infertility or heavy bleeding.
By making a few changes to the way you eat, you might reduce your fibroid risk or at least keep them from getting larger.
There’s no cure for fibroids, but there are many treatments that can help manage symptoms. If you have large fibroids, surgery may be an option to remove them.
Although we can’t stop uterine fibroids from developing, we can control risk factors such as diet and weight. By making healthy lifestyle changes, we may be able to reduce the size of uterine fibroids and improve symptoms.
Remember that regular physical activity, a healthy diet ,and a healthy weight are important whether you have fibroids or not.
- Uterine Fibroids and Diet: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7908561/
- Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer Risk: Results from the Nutrinet-santé Population-based Cohort Study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35324894/
- Trans Fat Is Double Trouble for Heart Health: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/trans-fat/art-20046114
- How Diet and Exercise May Help Manage Uterine Fibroids: https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/how-to-manage-weight-gain-with-uterine-fibroids
- Moderate Alcohol Consumption and Estrogen Levels in Postmenopausal Women: A Review: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9726268/