Can food affect the health of your vagina? Our most private part is prone to infection more than the rest of our body because of its demure position. The chances of a bacterial buildup due to the moist environment or even because of tight underwear are quite high. So, in such a case, isn’t it also quite possible that your diet can affect the overall health of your vagina?
How Does Food Affect Vaginal Health?
The vagina uses natural secretions, good bacteria, and immune defenses to keep itself healthy. Thus, what you consume on a day-to-day basis is quite important to improve its natural environment. Eating a healthy balanced diet with lots of probiotics, prebiotics, fermented food, and beverages can prevent infections and ameliorate vaginal health. So here’s how you should moderate your diet to upgrade your vagina’s health.
Foods You Should Avoid Eating
The first step in maintaining your vagina’s health is knowing which food to avoid so you don’t cause any infections or extreme conditions. Your diet directly affects your menstrual cycle and by extension, the vagina, so avoiding foods that can prevent these infections would help. Here’s a list of various food items that could hurt your vaginal health:
Sugar or candy promotes vaginal yeast growth because the vagina releases secretions that contain sugar which makes way for the yeast to accumulate in this moistened area. By releasing these secretions, your vagina can also alter the pH level and cause more of these infections and bad bacteria to grow in it.
Much like the rest of your body and skin, alcohol can also tend to dehydrate your vagina, especially if you are drinking too much without taking water breaks in between. This can cause issues with self-lubrication before intercourse causing problems while doing it. It might also worsen menstrual cramps and cause bloating.
We can rarely survive without coffee but that’s not the case with our vagina. The caffeine present in the beverage may negatively affect our body’s ability to fight off yeast infections. It can also add a smelly odor to your vagina.
Fried food is never too great for our body and the same is the case for our vaginas. Eating too much fried food can affect the balance of the good bacteria. They are also associated with a higher risk of infection like bacterial vaginosis which can cause a bad odor and discomfort.
Refined carbs like bread can essentially cause a quick spike in the level of sugar in your body. This may in turn be the reason your body will be at a high risk of bacterial vaginosis or developing a yeast infection.
We usually assume that dairy is good for our body and vaginal health, right? Well, not all of them. Unlike yogurt, cheese can be smelly giving an unpleasant odor to your urine and vagina. But most importantly, it can disrupt your vaginal bacteria, making the probability of getting a yeast infection more likely.
Like cheese, asparagus too can make your urine smell. It also has a high tendency to give you vaginal infections like yeast infections, UTIs, or even bacterial vaginosis.
Processed foods depress your immune system, which can allow harmful bacteria to take over. This can lead to all sorts of problems down there, including bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, dryness, pain during sex, and urinary tract infections.
Certain meat or even dairy products contain xenoestrogen which is an artificial hormone that imitates estrogen. These hormones can block estrogen from the vagina, preventing the mucosal lining from forming, which, again, can leave you open to infection.
Artificially sweetened beverages impair the gut barrier, increasing the risk of a leaky gut. A leaky gut releases inflammatory cytokines, which can lead to heightened anxiety and depression. Mood problems like these will cause a lower libido, which in turn can indirectly impact vaginal health.
Foods That You Should Consume To Maintain Your Vaginal Health
Certain food can help in maintaining the pH level of your vagina which needs to be at a slightly acidic environment of around 4.5. This acidity helps the growth of helpful bacteria and prevents harmful microbes from developing. Based on that, here are certain foods that are great for your vagina.
Probiotics contain special good bacteria called “lactobacillus” that are found in the vagina. These bacteria help in regulating the microflora in the vagina, maintain its pH balance, work on the body’s immune system, and stops harmful microorganisms from entering the vaginal tissue. The best source of probiotics is fermented food like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, tempeh, kombucha, etc.
Prebiotics are fibers and natural sugars that stimulate the good bacteria in the gut. They help stabilize the vaginal pH by promoting the growth of healthy bacteria. These food items include onions, leeks, garlic, whole wheat products, oats, soybeans, and bananas.
There's a particular ingredient in cranberry, proanthocyanidins or PAC, a type of plant compound that makes the bladder slippery and more resistant to E. coli, the bacteria that are linked to various vaginal infections. The more you drink, the higher the likelihood that you flush out the bacteria before they breed and begin triggering telltale symptoms like pain while peeing.
Apart from its multiple benefits, avocados are also well known for providing a range of health care nutrients to the vagina. So nutrients like potassium, antioxidants, fiber, vitamin B6, etc present in the avocado can alleviate symptoms of bloating and fatigue. The healthy monounsaturated fat in avocado has also been shown to help boost levels of hormones associated with vaginal lubrication.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene and vitamin A which help strengthen and protect uterine walls. These compounds also affect fertility and reproduction in both men and women, as well as promote healthy fetal development. Additionally, the nutrients found in sweet potatoes help with the production of sex hormones and are often recommended for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Now that you know what you must eat and what you should avoid, we hope it’s a little easier for you to take care of your vaginal health and maintain a clean, safe environment down below!