Boost Your Vaginal Health
If you’ve been keeping up with us and have started practicing #naturealliving by eating healthy, drinking lots of water, taking your probiotics and getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night, then you know how diet contributes to everything happening to your body. Food affects every vital organ in your body, including the little Miss downstairs.
Thankfully, it doesn’t take much to keep the vagina clean as it’s pretty good at cleaning and protecting itself; all you have to do is eat the right kinds of foods which help in minimizing funky smells and fight infections. The vagina uses natural secretions, immune defenses, and “good” bacteria to keep itself healthy. Eating a healthy, balanced diet might also prevent infections and improve vaginal conditions.
So, how does a healthy diet contribute to good vaginal health and what foods must you avoid to keep the nasty at bay? We’ve rounded up the best foods with key ingredients to keep things feeling fresh and breezy down south - take a look!
Before we talk about probiotics, let’s talk about pH levels first. A balanced vaginal pH needs to stay in the range of 3.8 to 4.5. When this balance is off for too long, it gives the bacteria a chance to thrive and cause discomfort or even UTIs. So, how can you keep your pH in check?
Let’s start with the good bacteria; probiotics.
Probiotics can help balance vaginal acidity levels. Lactobacillus species bacteria is the most dominant type of “good” bacteria found in a healthy vagina. Research suggests that Lactobacillus could benefit vaginal health in the following ways:
- regulating the microflora in the vagina
- improving the vagina’s acidity levels
- stopping harmful microbes from attaching to the vaginal tissues
- working with the body’s immune system
According to Harvard Health, the most common fermented foods that are naturally contain probiotics or have probiotics added to them are:
Eating plain live organic yogurt five times a week helps maintain healthy intestinal flora and vaginal balance.
Probiotics are the most vital food or supplement to consume as a way of re-inoculating your gut with healthy bacteria.
In short, probiotics help to replenish good bacteria and keep bad bacteria at bay. We recommend consuming probiotics daily in both food and supplement form, like NATUREAL Probiotic - 40 Billion.
Next up, prebiotics!
Prebiotics are types of dietary fiber that feed the friendly bacteria that’s already living in your gut. This helps the gut bacteria produce nutrients for your colon cells and leads to a healthier digestive system.
Prebiotic compounds may also help stabilize vaginal pH by promoting the growth of healthy bacterial populations.
Some natural foods worth noting that are rich in prebiotics are:
According to the Urology Care Foundation, drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry tablets may prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) from developing. UTI occurs when bacteria enter parts of the urethra, bladder, or kidneys, causing symptoms such as burning or pain during urination and bad smelling or cloudy urine.
Drinking lots of fluids might help prevent a UTI, cranberry juice to be specific.
A study in the America Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women who took a cranberry juice pill equivalent to two 8-ounce servings of cranberry juice for six weeks after gynecological surgery reduced the rate of UTI occurrence by half.
Cranberries are rich in antibacterial compounds that kill bacteria. These include antioxidants and organic acids, such as:
- Flavanols and flavonols
- Organic and phenolic acids
- Proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins
- Vitamin C
Even though research into diet and UTIs has mainly focused on cranberries, many fruits, especially citrus fruits and berries, are also rich in antioxidants and may have similar effects. If you choose to incorporate cranberry juice into your diet, be mindful of the sugar content in it as a high intake of sugar can increase your vagina’s pH levels and make you more prone to yeast infections.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene; a molecule that gives yellow and orange fruits and vegetables their rich hues. In the body, beta-carotene converts into vitamin A (Retinol), which we need for good vision, eye health, strong immune system and for healthy skin and mucous membranes.
Sweet potatoes have the sweetest benefits, especially if you are trying to get pregnant as the beta-carotene and vitamin A present in the vegetable help strengthen muscle tissues for healthy vaginal and uterine walls. Research suggests, “Beta carotene and vitamin A have direct effects on fertility and reproduction in both men and women, as well as healthy fetal development.” - National Center for Biotechnology Information.
If you love a sweet treat, then you’re going to love this!
Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, which is highly effective at relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, especially if you suffer from painful period cramps. Dark chocolate also helps the body produce more serotonin (happy hormones), which alleviate mood swings and irritability. This sweet treat is also full of antioxidants that can help boost overall vaginal health.
An avo a day, keeps vaginal issues at bay.
It’s true - avocados are packed with healthy fats, vitamin B6 and potassium, all of which have positive effects on your libido and support the vagina’s natural ability to take care of itself.
This libido-boosting fruit can also enhance lubrication and estrogen levels, strengthen vaginal walls and may even increase IVF success due to its unsaturated fats.
OMEGA 3 - FATTY ACIDS
A low or no-fat diet makes your whole body drier, including the vagina but foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help with that.
Omega-3 fatty acids are long chains of fats found naturally in many of our healthiest foods, especially wild salmon, which has more than 1,500 milligrams in a 3-ounce portion. They're called "essential" fatty acids because the human body cannot produce them naturally, so the only way we can consume them is through our diet.
Foods that are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids - found mainly in oily fish, nuts, seeds and green vegetables along with foods rich in phytoestrogens such as soya, chickpeas, lentils and flaxseeds should be included in your daily diet as they change the cells of the vagina so they become softer and more elastic whilst keeping the vagina well lubricated naturally.
Now that you’re clued up on the foods to consume for optimal vaginal health, it’s time to talk about the foods that your vagina really dislike!
Processed foods are on top of this list as they depress your immune system, which can allow harmful bacteria to take over. This in turn can lead to all sorts of problems down there, including bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, dryness, pain during sex, and urinary tract infections.
There’s a reason why we say that sugar is evil - because it is! And your vagina isn’t the biggest fan of it either. Specifically, it can damage or kill the important vaginal bacteria; Lactobacilli.
Remember it this way, sugar is the opposite of a probiotic.
The bacterial imbalance can lead to yeast infections, soreness, and irritation—three things you really don't want to deal with!
Other reasons refined sugar can be harmful and create an imbalance in the body because sugar:
- May lead to cancer of the breast, intestines, ovaries, prostate or rectum
- Contributes to the reduction of the body’s defense against bacterial infection
- May suppress the immune system
- Disrupts the minerals in the body, which can lead to chromium deficiency
- Interferes with the absorption of calcium and magnesium
- May cause signs of premature aging i.e., sagging skin - altering the structure of collagen
- Can produce an acidic stomach
- Can impair the structure of DNA
- Can lead to heart disease, multiple sclerosis, obesity, periodontal disease, decreased growth hormones or the infamous Candida albicans (yeast infections) - ya dig?
MEAT AND DAIRY CONTAINING ARTIFICIAL HORMONES
Time to dive into an uncomfortable topic but it’s also time to not shy away from it.
For years, we've been hearing about hormones present in cow milk that we drink and in the meat that we’re consuming. So, what are these hormones and why are they in our food?
Injecting hormones into young livestock can make them gain weight faster. In simple terms, more weight means more meat, which means more profit for the producer.
Hormones can also increase the production of milk by dairy cows. Synthetic estrogens (xenoestrogens) and testosterone are the most common hormones that are implanted in a pellet form in a cow’s ear at an early age, which releases hormones throughout the animal’s life.
“In women, xenoestrogens can contribute to a condition known as estrogen dominance. This is especially likely during perimenopause, when the normal balance of progesterone and estrogen is out of balance anyway, leaving women prone to high estrogen levels. In addition to causing symptoms, estrogen dominance can increase the risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers.” - Renew Youth
These xenoestrogens can also block estrogen from the vagina, preventing the mucosal lining from forming, which can leave you open to infection.
For those of you who just screamed - yeah we hear you - literally and figuratively.
Coffee is quite an acidic commodity which can throw your pH balance off, especially if you consume alot of coffee during the day. Strong coffee can actually change the odor of your vagina when consumed in large quantities and can also lead to an increased risk of yeast infections.
High amounts of caffeine in beverages can actually destroy important vitamins and minerals that ward off such infections.
If you really cannot give up coffee, then consider reducing the amount of coffee that you consume everyday, switch to decaf or a healthy tea. Whatever you decide, make sure you stay hydrated with lots of water during the day to maintain a healthy pH balance, which will help your vagina take care of itself.
That’s it, ladies! That’s all you need to know on how to maintain a healthy vagina. While a right diet will do the trick and keep your vagina safe, make sure you also practice proper vaginal care; good hygiene, safe sex and regular gynecological visits to keep things in check and away from unwanted infections.