The mystery of myomas – Manila Bulletin

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Published November 8, 2022, 6:25 PM
by Cheshire Que
If you’re a woman, it is most likely that you have encountered this term. Commonly referred to as myomas, uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths of muscle tissue knots that form in a woman’s uterus, the place where a baby grows inside the womb. This affects mostly women over the age of 30.
Oftentimes, we are told not to worry about these fibroids as they are benign and could possibly disappear when we reach menopause. But not all women are alike—some may not experience any symptoms, especially in the early stages of development. Unfortunately, there are those who encounter issues of heavy or prolonged menstrual periods, abnormal bleeding, anemia, infertility, miscarriage or pregnancy loss, and pain in the pelvic area.
What causes the formation of myomas? High levels of the hormone estrogen promote the growth and development of uterine fibroids. The body naturally produces estrogen but we also obtain compounds that mimic the characteristics of estrogen. They are called xenoestrogens, which are found in food like dairy, BPA, glyphosate, plastics, pesticides, cosmetics, and many other everyday products. If you think about all the chemicals we ingest and absorb each day, it’s just scary.
Medical, surgical, and radiologic therapies are available for treatment—but did you know that you can also do something about it through lifestyle interventions?
Estrogen levels are impacted by body fat, especially abdominal or visceral fat. Therefore, achieving a healthy body weight and body fat is vital in controlling the development of myomas. We have to bear in mind that weight gain is generally caused by excess intake of calories from food and decreased energy expended through physical activity and exercise. There are, however, other factors that make us gain weight and fat deposits. Stress and lack of quality sleep can increase the production of stress hormones that stimulate the body to store fat, especially in the belly area. Furthermore, nutrient deficiencies sabotage the body’s metabolism and it cannot efficiently burn fat. Reflect on things and your behavior. They may be contributing to weight gain or your inability to lose weight.
How much fruits and vegetables do you intentionally eat in a day? In a study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Yuan He et al, “Associations between Uterine Fibroids and Lifestyles Including Diet, Physical Activity, and Stress: A Case-control Study in China,” they found that vegetable and fruit intakes had positive effects on uterine fibroids by significantly reducing the risk.
There are three main reasons we need to mindfully incorporate fruits and vegetable in our daily diet in relation to myomas.
First, it promotes a healthy digestive system and gut microbiome. The fiber found in fresh produce will help the body form stool and facilitate bowel movement. Uterine fibroids are linked to constipation. Estrogen is reabsorbed in the gut thus increasing the level in the body and promoting the growth of myomas. As you begin to eat more fruits and vegetables, remember to drink adequate amount of water. Otherwise, fiber without water will lead to constipation. Think of a dry sponge. It is hard and has no use in cleaning, unless it is soaked in water.
Second, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, pechay, arugula, watercress, and Brussels sprouts are all good for liver detoxification. It aids in clearing the body of excess estrogen.
Third, vegetables like soy (emphasis must be made on whole soy food like soymilk and edamame, not the processed ones that have been stripped of phytochemicals) and fruits like raspberries contain natural plant estrogens called phytoestrogens. They have weak estrogen-like properties that compete with estrogens by attaching to estrogen receptors in the body. A study on Japanese women concluded that increased soy consumption led to less frequent uterine fibroids and surgery on uterus.
If you have uterine fibroids or are genetically predisposed, it would help to begin reflecting on your lifestyle and health habits. Hormone expert and Institute of Functional Medicine’s chief of medical affairs Joel Evans said: “Between gut health, improved detoxification, normalizing insulin, the right exercise, and the right diet, these are the foundational interventions for lifestyle ways to decrease fibroids.”
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