Does the food I eat affect my vaginal health?

A balanced diet is important for all aspects of your health. Your body needs certain nutrients in order to function well. Vaginal health can be affected by poor diet and make you more prone to common problems related to poor immune function. What you eat and drink can also affect the pH of your vagina and may contribute to levels of moisture or dryness. If you are diabetic or have other underlying health issues that can be affected by what you eat and drink, such as obesity or allergies to certain food groups, it is important to check what you should include or exclude from your diet with your physician.

Which foods are good for my vaginal health?

Your general health, including the effective functioning of your vagina, is best served by a varied and balanced diet. As a basic rule, it makes sense to follow standard guidelines which recommend a diet rich in fibre, protein and essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. You should avoid or severely limit processed and fatty, sugary carbohydrates in your daily diet. Nutrition experts often recommend that you eat a ‘rainbow’ of foods which means including lots of different coloured foods in your diet, from red peppers through to blueberries, for example. This is because the natural colour of foods indicate high levels of certain helpful nutrients and eating a broad spectrum of colours gives you a good variety of these essential vitamins and minerals and keeps your diet interesting as well as balanced. Vegetables, including legumes such as lentils and beans, grains and cereals such as quinoa and oats, nuts and seeds are good plant-derived sources of fibre, protein and essential nutrients.

A note about sugar

Eating whole fruits gives you a range of vitamins and minerals and is the best way of including some sugar in your diet. Processed or preserved fruits and just drinking fruit juice can create a spike in your blood sugar levels, because the sugar is rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream. When you eat the whole fruit, including the skin (when possible) and pith, the fibre and nutrients help slow the release of sugar into your blood, which means your blood sugar levels are likely to stay more steady. They are less likely to rise sharply and then crash. Some physicians think sugar can make yeast problems worse. If you have a tendency to yeast infections it may be best to restrict the amount of sugar in your diet.

Five foods to boost vaginal health

Yoghurt with live or active cultures contains helpful bacteria, such as lactobacilli, that can contribute to the maintenance of the healthy, slightly acidic pH of your vagina.

Soy. As well as being a good source of protein and other nutrients for vegetarian and vegan women, soy foods such as tofu, edamame and tempeh contain phytoestrogens that help to keep your vagina lubricated and functioning normally. Avoid soy products that try to mimic meat products e.g.: soy burgers, soy bacon etc. These tend to be over processed and full of salt and other unhealthy additives.

Avocados contain lots of helpful vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E, that help support the natural moisturising functions of the vagina.

Almonds and other nuts and seeds that are high in zinc are useful to include in your diet. Zinc is an important mineral in hormone production and contributes to a strong immune system.

Foods to avoid

Too much of any type of food, even fruit, is not a good idea. Aim for moderation, variety and balance in what you eat. Highly processed foods which are high in salt, fat and sugar; excessive alcohol consumption and too much caffeine should be avoided. The general rule is that foods that are good for your overall health are good for your vagina too.

Drink plenty of water. Many women don’t drink enough. Proper hydration is important for healthy vaginal function. Alcohol is dehydrating and converts to sugar in your body, so be cautious about your intake. Swap your second cappuccino or glass of white wine for a glass of water or a cup of caffeine free herbal tea. You’ll feel the benefit.