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Celebrity Health – RuthAnne Cunningham

Hear my song

Singer-songwriter RuthAnne Cunningham from Donaghmede has worked with numerous artists including Britney Spears and Niall Horan and received an IMRO award for her outstanding contribution to songwriting. She released her debut album Matters of the Heart last October and has been nominated for a Grammy. She lives between Ireland, London and LA.

Photos courtesy of Thompson

Do you enjoy exercising?

I used to do boxing three times a week and pilates, but I suffer from endometriosis and I wasn’t able to work out for most of last year. Now I am getting back into it and doing pilates and yoga again. I hope to get back into boxing soon because I really love it. I like to walk around the parks in London and get out into green spaces.

Tell us about your endometriosis

They are not sure what causes endometriosis, but as some women in my family have it they think in my case it might be hereditary. Women in my family have suffered miscarriages and experienced problems conceiving then eventually found out they had endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the uterus spreads on to other organs in the body causing lesions and making organs inflamed. This leads to chronic pain, exhaustion and fatigue and you just feel really unwell. For some women it is worse at their time of the month. For me I was having three weeks of pains per month and about five days with no pain.

I suffered from excruciating pains for over a year, some days struggling to even get up and walk around, and as MRIs, scans, and multiple blood tests came back clear, I questioned whether the whole thing was in my head. I was desperate to find out what was wrong with me. I was lucky to be diagnosed within two years but I know women who have struggled for 10 years. When I was diagnosed they said I had stage three and four endometriosis. In November, I went for surgery in London to cut lesions that were constricting my organs. If this operation had not gone ahead, I could have lost my bowel. I have had less pain since. I feel like I am getting my life back. And eating an anti-inflammatory diet helps with the symptoms too.

Helping others with endometriosis

On average it takes seven years to get a diagnosis, largely because women just think their periods are painful and do not realise there is a more serious problem. It can be very difficult for women to explain about pain, when you look fine. We tend to put on a happy face, but there is a lot going on inside. Endometriosis not surprisingly can lead to mental health issues and depression. If you have to medicate yourself during your period or take time off work or school then it could be endometriosis.

We need a centre of excellence for endometriosis in Ireland – 1 in 10 women suffer from it in the world and 155,000 women in Ireland. There should also be education about the condition and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in schools because it can affect your fertility.

Tells us about your anti-inflammatory diet

After my surgery for endometriosis last year my surgeon said that having an anti-inflammatory diet would not cure it but would help avoid flare-ups and pain. So I avoid any foods that cause inflammation. I have cut out dairy, refined sugars and gluten. I call myself a flexitarian because I am eating a more plant-based diet with a bit of chicken or fish as protein.

Every morning I start the day with a green juice, which is made from celery, kale, rocket, parsley, half an apple, lemon, ginger and 1/2tsp of matcha green powder. I have this before I eat anything else. Then half an hour or so later I will eat buckwheat muesli or granola and Greek yogurt, blueberries or strawberries and chia seeds. I also make my own chia seed pudding with almond milk and cacao powder which I might eat for breakfast.

For lunch I would usually eat a salad with chicken or tuna. For dinner I often make ginger and turmeric marinated chicken with red onion, kale and tomato salad and buckwheat. I like prawns too.

If I need a snack I might go for lentil or humous crisps and I make my own protein balls with dates, walnuts and dark chocolate.

The easiest change I have made is to substitute milk and that wasn’t too hard, but I am a big cheese person so it was hard to make that substitution.

Do you take supplements?

I am a big believer in supplements and think they are important for the body. I take antihistamines, B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium. I suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency so that’s an important one. I find health stores really helpful. They would stock the foods I find hard to find elsewhere – ingredients like buckwheat and matcha powder, and dairy alternatives.

Do you have any health tips for Rude Health readers?

  • Diet is key to how we function daily as humans, it plays a massive role.
  • I have found that following an anti-inflammatory diet without dairy, refined sugar and gluten has really helped my health. You could try it for just a few days a week and see if you notice a difference.
  • There is so much terrible stuff out there that tastes good but is bad for you. Making the effort to eat as clean as possible will bring you real benefits. Plant-based really is the future.
  • I recommend juicing – it gives you more energy and you feel great.
  • Don’t forget to treat yourself at weekends.

                                         

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