Black Women & Fibroids the Silent Epidemic that’s Screaming in our Community Part 2: Foods that can Cause Fibroids

See Part I
In this second part of the series we will take a look at the role food may play in causing or aggravating fibroids. Just to review fibroids are smooth muscle cells that may grow in your uterus during childbearing years. Though fibroids are not cancer, they are still tumors and are quite common for African-American women. Many women do not realize they have them and though they can shrink after menopause they can hinder the ability to get pregnant. From What Are Fibroids

Some very common foods may contain substances that may lead to and increase growth of uterine fibroids. According to NutritionMD women who eat more than one serving of red meat a day have a 70% higher chance of developing fibroids. If you have fibroids limiting red meat will help you a great deal. The second culprit are foods and beverages that contain Methylxanthines a.k.a. coffees, teas and caffeinated sodas and chocolate that contains some caffeine. Carbs can also play a role in causing fibroids according to Dr. Christiane Northrup, cookies, breads and cakes, can alter the way that estrogen is metabolized and may increase your risk. Additionally, according to Nutrition MD eating a great deal of refined foods may also influence your weight if you do not get enough exercise because as women gain weight, their risk of fibroids increases.

And though must of us love happy hour alcohol can also play a role in causing fibroids because it is metabolized in the liver and may slow down the metabolism of estrogen, which leads to higher estrogen levels in the body, as noted by Tori Hudson, ND in the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients Online Magazine. The longer you have been drinking the higher this risk becomes. This may sound like discouraging news, what can you actually eat and will you have to kiss happy hour goodbye? Well the good news is there are healthy alternatives that can also help you deal with current fibroids or better yet prevent them from occurring.

Health Swaps:

Swap Basic Red Meat for grass-fed, organic red meat or fish.

Swap Coffee & Caffeinated Teas for Green & Black Teas (both have caffeine but are a great way to come off of coffee-take it from a confessed coffee addict). Also try Chamomile, White and Dandelion teas which have great health benefits.

Swap Sodas for Organic(if possible) Fruit Juices & Sparkling Water

Swap White Flour & Gluten (Wheat) Breads, Cookies & Cakes for gluten free products and naturally sprouting products such as Ezekiel & Genesis breads made by Food For Life

Swap Caffeinated Milk Chocolate for Dark Chocolate (70% or higher) and try to make it fair trade because many of our African brothers and sisters are suffering to produce conflict chocolate.

Swap Sugary Mixed Drinks and Beers for Red Wine and Light Beer

Swap Candies for Fruits

Swap White Potatoes for Collard Greens and/or Kale made with Turkey Bacon (organic if possible)

This may all sound daunting but the payoffs will be well worth it. Instead of trying to implement many changes at once you can make one change a week. If cost or access to healthy food is a concern check out local farmers markets and even if you can’t buy organic fruits, vegetables and meats buy non-organic but make the healthiest choices possible. Wash non-organic fruits and vegetables in filtered water and apple cider vinegar.

Many of the products I mentioned can be found in health food stores, Whole Foods and even local supermarkets. I also recognize that we are in a recession so know that many farmers markets are starting to accept WIC, SNAP (aka Food Stamps) and if you qualify for these programs do not be ashamed to access them. Joining a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a great way to receive seasonal fruits and vegetables at a low cost.

Another suggestion is to check to see if your company has a nutritionist for employees and if so take advantage of that service.

Note, though diet is important physical activity is essential. Begin by walking for 30 minutes 3 times a week with a friend or your iPod. Check out YouTube for free fitness videos such as Women Fitness by Sister Felecia Noel.
These are just a few suggestions please see the resources below for more information. Since I am not a physician I suggest that you discuss your health concerns with a doctor. Also note that though herbal teas are great health aids if you are pregnant you should consult your doctor before utilizing them

For more information visit:

Center for Uterine Fibroids

Food for Life

Live Strong

Read: It’s A Sistah Thing: A Guide to Understanding and Dealing with Fibroids for African American Women (Dafina Books, 2002), by journalist Monique R. Brown

Finally, “health is our wealth”, many of these suggestions were used by our foremothers, so let’s return to that “Sister Wit” because it’s our divine right to be healthy.

Remember Life is for Living & Love is a Choice!

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About Onleilove

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Onleilove is currently a Faith Based Community Organizer, workshop facilitator, speaker and writer living in Harlem. After receiving her B.S. in Human Development and African-American Studies from Penn State University she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps. Onleilove recently received her M.Div. and MSW degrees from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University. In addition to her organizing work she is a member of Alpha Nu Omega, Inc., a historically Black Christian sorority and the Poverty Initiative. Onleilove has worked for various social justice organizations in NYC, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. such as Sojourners (where she was a Beatitudes Society Fellow), W!SE, United Workers and Healthcare-Now!. Her writing has appeared in Sojourners Magazine, The Black Commentator, Conspire! and other publications. Onleilove is one of five siblings with a large extended family. Possessing compassion for people fueled by her passion for justice she believes that the Gospel is “good news to the poor” and will humbly work to proclaim this message in her community. Onleilove blogs about her journey to holistic health, faithful justice and her addiction to thrifting on Wholeness4Love .


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