Good Foods vs. Bad Foods: What to Eat For a Happy Vagina (part 2 of 3)

By Isa Herrera, MSPT

The Happy Vagina and Healthy Bladder Diet Women Are Raving About (Part 2 of 3)

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “you are what you eat”…

But have you considered the fact that what you eat can actually affect your vaginal health?

That’s right!

Your vagina is home to a complex ecosystem of microscopic bacteria known as the vaginal microbiome. And when this colony of bacteria is strong, it can protect you from yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and urinary tract infections. When it’s weak, the bad actors from the bacterial colony and outside sources are more likely to be able to wreak havoc on your poor va-jay-jay. 

And that’s not all. What you eat can also affect your hormones. Which in turn affects your vagina. You see, when estrogen levels drop, your vulva and vaginal tissues tend to thin. Which means you’ve got a greater chance of developing those pesky vaginal infections. Making sure you’re not exacerbating the situation with foods that bring *more* hormones into your body is critically important. 

So, what’s a responsible vagina owner to do?

Glad you asked. In this article, I’m breaking down what foods to avoid, what foods to get more of in your diet, and my best overall tips for keeping things running smoothly down there.

Let’s dig in.

Top 5 Foods That Hurt Your Yoni

First off, let’s talk about what foods can make things difficult for your vagina to function at its best.

Maybe not surprisingly, this is actually a list of the most common foods we’re told to avoid for many health reasons:

  1. Sugar – Excess sugar is bad news for your gut and vaginal microbiome. Sugar is added to just about everything these days, from spaghetti sauce to salad dressing — so you can easily go over your daily limit without even enjoying something sweet! Sugar is a favorite food of those bad bacteria lurking in your microbiome, so when you eat too much, it’s easy for bad bacteria like candida to overrun the population…and yeast infections can result.
  1. Wheat and Gluten – Gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat, barley, and rye — and it’s common in heavily processed foods. Gluten can cause issues, even if you don’t have celiac disease (an autoimmune disease where eating gluten destroys the small intestine lining). So, you may want to try cutting it out for a while and see how your vagina feels as a result.
  1. Processed Foods and Refined Carbohydrates – A diet that’s rich in processed foods is dangerous because these foods often contain higher levels of unhealthy fats, sugars, and calories than less refined options. Processed foods are often easier to chew and swallow which means you’re more likely to consume more…which means excess weight and the health risks that accompany it. And, as researchers showed, the negative effects of overly refined foods don’t just come from cookies, cakes, and french fries. Processed foods include canned soups and grains in a microwave pouch.
  1. Alcohol  – Alcohol can rob your body of moisture…hence the dehydrated, hangover feeling you get when you’ve had too much. And since your vagina is lined with a mucous membrane that relies on moisture to function properly, alcohol is generally a not-so-great beverage to consume if you’re concerned about keeping your vagina juicy. Plus, drinking alcohol in excess can lead to sexual dysfunction and interrupt sleep, two things that certainly do not make for a happy woman.
  2. Meat and Dairy Containing Artificial Hormones – Some common and conventional farming methods involve treating livestock with hormones to increase growth and milk production. Unfortunately, this means that the steroids, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone that animals may be implanted with can wind up in the animal products you’re eating… which can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones that help control vaginal health. Try to opt for humanely raised, free-range, and organic options when you can.

The pelvic floor muscles respond to the foods you eat, what you drink, and what you think.

Top 5 Foods For Yoni and Bladder Health

The Happy Vagina and Healthy Bladder Diet Women Are Raving About (Part 2 of 3) 1

So now that we’ve covered what foods to minimize in your diet, let’s talk about the foods you want to get MORE of in your life.

This is where things get fun and interesting…because when it comes to a healthy vagina, the key is really to simply eat real food. It’s not complicated. But it can be difficult in these times of convenience foods and drive-thru everything. Believe me, I get it.

So here are my top 5 foods to pack more of on to your plate (no restrictions — just add-in and that way you’re sure to get more of the nutrients that matter).

  1. Fermented Foods – Foods that are rich in probiotics, like kimchi, greek yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir work wonders for keeping your gut and vaginal microbiomes strong. Probiotics are the good bacteria that keep the bad ones, like candida, in check. So when you eat foods that contain them, you’re constantly reinforcing a healthy balance that encourages a happy vagina.
  1. Prebiotics – While you’re adding in tons of probiotic-rich foods, you should also be sure to add in prebiotics. Prebiotics are the food that the probiotics like to eat. Bonus: they also tend to keep you feeling full for hours. When you’ve got a healthy mix of pro and pre-biotics colonizing happily in your gut, your vaginal microbiome is similarly content. Prebiotics are found in foods like garlic, onions, asparagus, green bananas, chickpeas, oats, and cooked and cooled starches like white rice and potatoes.
  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Omegas are wonderful for reducing inflammation in your body, and that’s always a good thing. Studies have shown increased Omega-3 consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease, anxiety, and even improve brain health. They also help boost estrogen levels, which means more moisture in the vagina. You can find Omega-3s in salmon, flax seeds, and sardines.
  2. Water – Ah, good old H2O. A steady consumption of filtered water is one of the best things you can do for your vagina and your body. Water helps keep mucous membranes hydrated, and since your vagina is lined with one — ample amounts of water keep things nice and juicy down there.
  3. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – Last and certainly not least, fresh veggies and fruits should make up a large part of a happy-vagina-diet. Both are full of fiber and antioxidants that help: 1) keep your microbiome strong (can you detect a theme here?) and 2) lower inflammation. Bodies with lower levels of inflammation have healthier vaginas that are more likely to be free of infections and candida. Be sure to get in plenty of apples, kale, and broccoli.

Easy Tips For Keeping A Happy, Healthy Vagina

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Follow the Happy Va-jay-jay diet – read more here.

I hope these diet guidelines help to keep your vagina happy, healthy, and vibrant.

And remember, to keep things at their best down there:

  • Read Part 1 of the Happy Vagina Series: The Happy Vagina and Healthy Bladder Diet Women Are Raving About (Part 1 of 3) by clicking here.
  • Avoid antibiotics if you possibly can — antibiotics destroy the delicate balance of your microbiome. If you do absolutely have to take them, follow them up with a strong course of pro and prebiotics to help rebuild your strength.
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  • Manage your stress levels — did you know stress can destroy your immune system? See my point above for why that’s so important to your vaginal health…and it’s also imperative to keep stress at bay for your mental and overall physical health. When your body is stressed, cortisol levels rise, which can cause low-grade inflammation and weight gain. Stress affects anxiety levels and can seriously compromise any healing you’re trying to do. So learn to just let it go.
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  • Keep your immune system strong — keeping your gut microbiome at its strongest is crucial for vaginal health since most of your immune system is housed there. A strong and prepared immune system can help stave off infections, which can derail your healing progress.
  • Keep your environment free from toxins — your home is probably full of endocrine disruptors that could be messing with your hormones and by extension, your lady parts. Look around your house and ditch those chemical cleaning products. Same for any cosmetics with questionable ingredients like parabens, benzophenones, bisphenols, and phthalates. Rubbing these on your skin and hair can create massive hormone imbalances and a sad, sad va-jay-jay.  

Has this article inspired you to add some of my favorite vagina-happy foods to your diet? Be sure and let me know which suggestion was your favorite!

References

  1. “Vaginal microbiome – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30848142/.
  2. “The vaginal microbiome: rethinking health and diseases.” 28 Jun. 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3780402/
  3. “Diversity of vaginal microbiome and metabolome … – Nature.” 1 Oct. 2019, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-50410-x.
  4. “Vulvovaginal Atrophy – NCBI – NIH.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2800285/.
  5. “Dietary simple sugars alter microbial ecology in the gut and ….” 28 Oct. 2020, https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/12/567/eaay6218
  6. “Health Benefits and Adverse Effects of a ….” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5866307/
  7. “Ultra-processed food intake and risk of ….” 29 May. 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l1451
  8. “Association between consumption of ultra ….” 29 May. 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l1949
  9. “Effects of a moderate intake of beer on markers of … – NCBI – NIH.” 6 Jun. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4459073/.
  10. “Association Between Alcohol Use and Female Sexual ….” 21 Jan. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6525105/.
  11. “Disturbed Sleep and Its Relationship to Alcohol Use.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2775419/.
  12. “Steroid Hormone Implants Used for Growth in Food-Producing ….” 20 Apr. 2020, https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/product-safety-information/steroid-hormone-implants-used-growth-food-producing-animals.
  13. “Vaginal Microbiota and the Use of Probiotics – NCBI – NIH.” 29 Mar. 2009, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2662373/
  14. “Health Effects and Sources of Prebiotic Dietary Fiber.” 29 Jan. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6041804/.
  15. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Health Professional Fact Sheet.” 1 Oct. 2020, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
  16. “Water, Hydration and Health – NCBI – NIH.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/
  17. “Fruit and vegetable consumption and health outcomes: an ….” 15 Feb. 2019, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30764679/
  18. “The effects of antibiotics on the microbiome ….” 13 Apr. 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4831151/
  19. “STRESS AND HEALTH: Psychological, Behavioral, and ….” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2568977/
  20. “Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: An ….” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2726844/

 

About ISA HERRERA, MSPT, CSCS

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