By: Jean Johnson for Fibroids1
Healthcare in Great Britain and Europe has long had a proclivity to what is more recently being called complementary medicine. High numbers of German physicians, for example, regularly prescribe the herb St. John’s Wort for depression. Also, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, “One of the advances that changed the way we look at vitamins was the discovery that too little folic acid, one of the eight B vitamins, is linked to birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.”
Harvard’s literature goes on to state that “Fifty years ago, no one knew what caused these birth defects… [but] 25 years ago, British researchers found that mothers of children with spina bifida had low vitamin B levels. Eventually, two large trials in which women were randomly assigned to take folic acid or a placebo showed that getting too little folic acid increased a woman’s chances of having a baby with spina bifida or anencephaly – and that getting enough folic acid could prevent these birth defects.”
|The Mayo Clinic lists the following as its “Top 10 Healthy Foods”|
Vegetable juice - low sodium - “an easy way to include vegetables in your diet”Wheat germ
In addition to Harvard’s comments on “vitamins with newly recognized or suspected roles in health and disease,” information out of the University of Wisconsin Health Services focused on cramping associated with menstruation.
“Nutritional therapy can go a long way in relieving menstrual cramps. Most women report improvement within three to four months of starting the following:
Magnesium: 400 mg daily is recommended for proper muscle and nerve function.
Calcium: 800 mg daily to relax muscle contractions.
Vitamin C: 500 to 1000 mg daily to increase capillary permeability. Vitamin C also serves as an “anti-stress” vitamin.
Vitamin E: 400 to 600 IU daily acts as a mild prostaglandin inhibitor. Do not exceed 800 IU per day.
Vitamin B6 (pyroxidine): 50 mg daily is essential for nerve and muscle functions.
Vitamin B3 (niacin): 25 to 50 mg daily also helpful for nerve and muscle functions. Start 7 to 10 days prior to the anticipated menses.”
Finally, Women’s Health London in Great Britain completed the circle, linking the B vitamins directly to symptoms associated with fibroids: “Although a healthy diet may not reduce your fibroids, it may help to reduce the symptoms.”
Toward that end, Women’s Health London offers three self-care tips:
“1. Avoid alcohol, sugar, and saturated fats. They make it difficult for your body to regulate hormones. This can increase cramps and bloating.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables, particularly broccoli and spinach. They also may help your body regulate its estrogen levels.
3. Get plenty of B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These are thought to reduce cramps and bloating.”
While embarking on a vitamin supplement program is best done in consultation with your physician, trying to eat a diet high in vitamins and minerals that are known to help uterine cramping is something women with fibroids can do safely. That said, Fibroids1 realizes that modern women have busy lives and often little time left over for fussing with food.
But that’s precisely the point – all that fussing and measuring and fiddling came out of the late-19th and early-20th centuries when women prided themselves on “domestic science” and concoctions that to us seem silly.
So join us as we make the healthy food rounds and suggest great ways to come up with fast, easy meals that please even as they do your fibroids symptoms a favor.
The general rule of thumb is that if you eat a serving of dark green veggies daily, you’ll be covered for all the B vitamins except B12, which is not available from plant sources and must be derived from dairy products, eggs, fish, poultry and meats. So, an easy way to get your B Vitamins is to think in terms of soup or salad. Either way you go, though, the trick is to make sure that dark, nutrient-dense vegetables like broccoli, spinach, chard, or kale are included.
Broccoli, of course, is the easiest to clean. Just trim and peel the stem and it’s ready for a quick toss in the stir fry pan or the steamer basket. More, broccoli goes very well with eggs and cheese. For an easy weeknight autumn supper, just whisk up some eggs with a little milk, toss in lots of cooked, chopped broccoli, salt and pepper, some Dijon mustard and perhaps some diced red pepper. Bake this egg timbale for 20 minutes in a buttered casserole dish and serve with a baked sweet potato and some unsweetened applesauce.
The timbale will also work with any of the dark leafy greens. But if you’d like to venture out further with these wonderful vegetables, try chopping some chard, for example, finely. Then heat a pan and some olive oil, and brown a diced onion with some garlic. Once the aromatics are done, in goes the chard along with some capers if you have them, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the greens are just wilted – chard and kale don’t shrink down like spinach and will keep some of their delightful curly appearance – and add several more tablespoons of oil until you get a nice consistency.
The result is a warm pesto, excellent for serving over baked winter squash – which is fixed by simply cutting the squash in half and inverting on a baking tray for 30 to 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven – whole grain pasta, or even on toasted pieces of artisan bread made from 100 percent whole grains. A few deli olives on the side and some parmesan makes a meal that is both healthy and delicious.
Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C
One of the great things about broccoli, spinach, and the less popular chard and kale is that if you’re getting a daily serving of them, you’re doing double duty because they are also excellent sources of calcium and vitamin C. The dark leafy greens contain magnesium as well, while broccoli has vitamin C and potassium.
In sum, it’s hard to overstate the importance of these super-vegetables. If you’re not fond of them, try putting a few cups lightly steamed into a blender along with some flavorful stock or vegetable juice, some white wine, and a steamed potato for thickening. You’ll end up with a creamy soup that is great hot with olive oil drizzled over and a handful of dates and sliced almonds, which are a superb source of magnesium, calcium and vitamin E.
Then again if breakfast is the angle you’d like to tackle, we suggest wheat germ sprinkled over whatever you’re having—cereal or yogurt. Wheat germ’s a concentrated form of nutrients and includes magnesium, a mineral that most Americans do not get enough of in their daily diets. Or for lunches, try thinking in terms of lots of veggies—grated carrots and apples dressed with the juice of a fresh orange and lemon, spiked with currants and toasted unsweetened coconut and walnuts. Then again, a big chef salad complete with some cooked legumes like red beans, garbanzos, or lentils can incorporate a range of veggies from red cabbage to sweet peppers to lovely dark green lettuces.
Don’t like beans? Once again, the blender can do wonders. Try a humus for spreading on any bread, pita or otherwise. Either the traditional garbanzos and tahini (sesame butter) seasoned with garlic, lemon, and cayenne, or any variation on the theme like lentils and peanut butter with a zing of chili powder, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and some raisins to add depth. Whatever direction you go, remember the finishing touches—alfalfa sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles, or lettuces to add some crunch and snap to this great sandwich.
We at Fibroids1 hope this brief sketch of healthy eating has inspired. Coping with the symptoms of fibroids can be challenging, so proactive ways to help minimize at least the cramping and bloating that often accompanies heavy bleeding can empower women. Clearly that is our goal, so happy cooking, happy eating, be well, and stay in touch.