Probably you know the best foods to eat for other parts of your body, for instance you consume lean protein when you need steady energy, good fats for healthy hair, skin, and nails, and whole grains to fill you up and keep your system running smooth.
But what foods are best for keeping your vagina in top shape? Believe it or not, what you eat really can help keep your vagina or lady bits happy and healthy by easing cramps, fighting infections and alleviating dryness. On the other hand, too much of some foods can mess with you below the belt, so it’s smart to leave them off your plate as much as possible.
Just like the pH measurements you may know in lab, the vagina also has a pH and it’s an acidic one, between 3.5 to 4.5 on a scale of zero (0) to 14. Everything from exercise to stress to sex can change the pH of your vagina, but when your vagina is healthy, it can usually maintain its pH balance all on its own.
When vaginal pH does shift, the vagina becomes a better environment for bacteria and other organisms to grow, leading to yeast infections and especially bacterial vaginosis, an itchy infection that may also leave you smelling.
Here is where the nutritional power of yogurt comes in. It’s a probiotic, meaning it contains live bacteria cultures. Varieties that contain the bacteria called Lactobacillus acidophilus may help keep the pH of the vagina in the acidic range, driving down the risk of yeast and other types of infection. Meanwhile, other probiotic foods might also help your vagina maintain the right pH balance, as may a probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus acidophilus.
CONCENTRATED CRANBERRY JUICE
There is a particular ingredient in cranberry known as proanthocyanidins or PAC, a type of plant compounds that makes the bladder slippery and therefore more resistant to E. coli, the bacteria linked to the most common type of urinary tract infection.
There’s more PAC in the concentrated form of the cranberry juice, since concentrated cranberry juice is closer to the real fruit. 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.
WATER OR HYDRATION
Staying well-hydrated helps boost energy and circulation, and it has positive benefits for your lady bits as well. Women who are experiencing vaginal dryness should drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
Just like dehydration can make the skin of your face or hands feel parched, skimping on water might make the skin on your vulva (the external parts of your genitalia) feel dry or itchy. Scratching that itch could make you more susceptible to infection, so don’t risk it and stay hydrated.
In addition, drinking enough water is a simple way to help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). All that liquid means you will have to pee often which helps flush out bacteria before they have a chance to create an infection.
A recent study found that ginger was just as effective as ibuprofen for relieving painful period-related cramps. Ibuprofen falls into a class of pain meds called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which as the name implies, fight inflammation, include some that causes period pain. However, ginger is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties, so it may work to quell cramps in a similar way too.
Soy products such as tofu and edamame contain isoflavones that mimic estrogen. Although this isn’t proven by science, some experts suggest that the plant estrogen can have a similar effect as the estrogen a woman naturally produces, alleviating vaginal dryness caused by hormonal changes.
Practically, you would likely have to eat quite a lot of soy to get any real estrogenic effect but there’s some concern that eating too much soy may actually be problematic for some women. That’s because certain diseases, like some breast cancers, may be fueled by estrogen. Also for women with a personal or family history of breast cancer, soy is not one of the more innocuous things to try.
Sure, a little dark chocolate can alleviate the frustration of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). But in general, excess sugar is not vagina-friendly. People prone to yeast infections should cut back on sweets and fruit, since sugar can promote yeast growth in the vagina.
Vaginal secretions contain sugar and yeast tends to thrive in sweet, moist environments. However, eating foods high in sugar can change the pH of your vagina, allowing for an overgrowth of yeast and other infection-causing organisms.
Even though you might want to decompress on the couch with a glass of red wine during your period, alcohol may also worsen menstrual cramps. Don’t forget that drinking might also cause other unpleasant period-like symptoms, like headaches and bloating.
Occasional imbibing is a bit okay but generally, experts recommend sticking to no more than one alcoholic drink a day. However, avoiding booze as much as possible is probably a good idea when it comes to keeping other female-only body parts healthy.
Studies have linked even just that limited intake of alcohol to increased breast cancer risk. While cutting out alcohol altogether doesn’t sound all that fun, it might be the smartest approach for some women, especially if they already have a high risk of breast cancer.