When living with a health condition such as pelvic organ prolapse (POP) it becomes increasingly important to consider nutrition as it relates to optimizing health. Not only does proper nutrition help us to feel good by giving us the energy to accomplish what we need to in our daily lives, proper nutrition also impacts our emotional wellbeing. Having the ability to cope is of immense importance when living with a health condition. Living with POP, much your energy is directed to learning to live with this condition and its effects while at the same time caring for your children. In my experience this was the first time in my life when optimizing my nutrition became so important. Leading expert in the field of women’s health, Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D. explains that women must eat in order to flourish and live in vibrant health. Ultimately, my desire to flourish in spite of living with POP is what fueled my desire to create the most optimum conditions for myself as possible.
One of the health issues associated with POP is constipation, as a contributing factor to the onset of POP as well as potentially aggravating the condition. Specifically, women who suffer from rectocele may have difficulty having a bowel movement due to the prolapsed rectum, however, this issue is compounded when the stool is more difficult to pass due to constipation. Based on experience and research, a diet that is consistently rich in nutrients, high in fiber and hydrating over a lifetime is a big step towards preventing POP or delaying the onset of the condition. As well, practicing these dietary habits ensures that the side effects of living with POP are much more manageable.
In terms of my own healing journey and how I have used nutrition to enhance my wellness I began by visiting a naturopath who specialized in using food as a healing tool. The initial goal was to begin to optimize my energy levels by selecting foods that were nutritionally dense. One of the best recommendations was a smoothie filled with green vegetables, fruit, and protein. In my case, as well as eating foods that were high in fiber, additional supplementation helped to alleviate any issues with constipation. My overriding goal was to eat a balanced diet that would reflect the balance that I wanted to create in my life. In an effort to care for myself I began a process of making small changes that led to big results, for example, drinking a lot of water, snacking on almonds, an apple or dates to increase my fiber intake instead of old go-to snack, a cookie.
New research is investigating the connection between nutrition and pelvic organ prolapse. A recent study focusing on the risk factors of POP concluded that important strategies in decreasing the progression of POP before menopause are nutritional education and weight management programs. Ultimately, optimizing nutrition is one of the key ways a woman can begin to become empowered to reclaim health. When a woman lives with POP it is important to consider ways of managing the condition that a woman can control for herself since one of the emotional ramifications is often a sense of disempowerment. One of the pathways I took to become empowered was realizing that nutrition not only affected my physical health but also affected my mind and spirit. I have since become a self-care warrior seeking the balance between mind, body, and spirit while avidly practicing the wisdom of Hippocrates,
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”