Save up to 25% on multipacks

Nutrition for a Healthy Vagina   

May 8, 2024 . dija

Written by Laura Barbara

Have you had the chance to check out Daan Borrel’s recent blog post? If not, I highly recommend it! It’s an insightful dive into topics surrounding vaginal health and beyond. She discusses various self-care practices for maintaining vaginal health, including considerations for birth control choices and opting for chemical-free menstrual products. You can find the article here.

The foods and drinks you consume play a significant role in maintaining vaginal health. But what exactly should you eat and avoid? How does your gut health relate to this, and can probiotic supplements make a difference? In this blog, I’ll provide valuable insights and guidance on these topics to support your journey into vaginal health.  

My name is Laura Tjon Tsoe Jin, and I specialize in orthomolecular hormone therapy. I help women experiencing hormonal symptoms, such as PMS, PCOS, heavy or irregular periods and menopausal symptoms, in achieving proper hormone balance and a smooth cycle. My approach encompasses various areas, including nutrition and lifestyle adjustments. Additionally, I explore other potential factors that may disrupt your body’s balance, such as fluctuating blood sugar levels, gut imbalances, and mental and physical stress. 

Understanding what foods contribute to promoting vaginal health is important for every woman. However, if you’re struggling to alleviate bothersome symptoms such as itching, redness, irritation, increased thin or gray/white discharge, unpleasant odor, pain during intercourse, or frequent bladder infections, let’s dive deeper. These symptoms often indicate an imbalance in your vaginal microbiome, which, in turn, can impact fertility, pregnancy outcomes, and susceptibility to STIs. If you recognize any of these symptoms, don’t be alarmed, because it is perfectly normal to experience occasional imbalances in vaginal health, as the vaginal possesses excellent self-cleansing and self-repair abilities. Nonetheless, if these symptoms persist for more than two weeks or recur frequently, I can recommend some proactive steps to address them on your own.  

The Vaginal Microbiome & Nutrition  

When referring to “a vaginal microbiome that is out of balance,” I mean that the composition of bacteria, fungi, and yeasts in that area is unfavorable. While we understand that the gut microbiome thrives on various types of bacteria (but the right ones), the vaginal microbiome tends to be more selective. It prefers to host only a few specific types of bacteria. Lactobacilli, especially lactobacillus crispatus, play a crucial role in offering protection by maintaining acidity in the vagina. These lactobacilli, which are lactic acid bacteria, help keep the vaginal environment acidic enough to fend off other harmful bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. 

They are responsible for about 80% of the production of lactic acid in the vagina, with the remaining 20% produced by the vaginal epithelial cells, which line the inside of the vagina. 

This is important because an acidic environment in the vagina acts as a barrier against infections by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. When there’s an insufficient presence of lactobacilli, the acidity level decreases. This can lead to conditions like bacterial vaginosis or candida fungus overgrowth. Acidity is measured by pH value, where a higher pH indicates lower acidity. A normal vaginal pH typically falls between 3.8 and 4.5 pH. If you’re curious about your vagina’s pH level, you can perform a simple home test to find out. 

Indeed, your vaginal microbiome is closely linked to your gut microbiome, and you can keep your gut healthy by … right, your diet!

The Magic of Fiber and Resistant Starch  

Your gut, and therefore your vagina, thrive when you consume natural, unprocessed foods. Stick to items you can easily recognize as foods, like fruits, vegetables, fish, unprocessed meats, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Of course, there are a million different opinions on what the best diet is, but don’t make it too hard on yourself and don’t get lost in the details. By focusing on these simple guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to supporting your gut and vaginal health. 

  • Make vegetables and fruits the cornerstone of your meals, aiming for at least 400 grams per day. Specifically, focus on incorporating vegetables rich in fiber, also known as prebiotics, into your diet. These prebiotics nourish and support the growth of probiotic bacteria, such as lactobacilli, in your intestines. Some examples include artichokes, asparagus, leeks, onions, sweet potatoes, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, parsnips, and arrowroot (which can be used as a thickener in dishes). 
  • Resistant starch is a powerhouse food for your gut bacteria. When bacteria ferment this starch, they produce short-chain fatty acids, which boast anti-inflammatory effects and fortify your intestinal barrier. This barrier is crucial for keeping out harmful substances while allowing the absorption of essential nutrients. You can easily incorporate resistant starch into your diet by cooking grains, legumes, and (sweet) potatoes and allowing them to cool completely. Reheating and cooling them again further enhances this process. So, consider cooking extra potatoes, rice, or lentils and incorporating them into your meals the next day for an added gut health boost. 
  • Antioxidants are crucial components that combat inflammation, protect your cells, and can even act as prebiotics. They’re abundant in fruits and vegetables, particularly those vibrant in color, like raspberries, blackberries, berries, tomatoes, red cabbage, and pomegranate. Additionally, nuts, seeds, herbs, and cocoa are rich sources of antioxidants. When it comes to chocolate, opt for the dark variety with a cocoa content of 70% or higher, preferably raw chocolate, for maximum antioxidant benefits. 
  • Incorporating good fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, into your diet is essential for overall health. While plant foods like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts contain some omega-3s, fatty fish such as herring, wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and cod liver are rich sources. If you don’t consume fish, consider supplementing with high-quality fish oil or algae oil. Omega-3 fatty acids serve as potent anti-inflammatories and protect your mucous membranes, including your vaginal mucosa, from invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Other healthy fats to include in your diet are unroasted nuts, seeds, and kernels, avocado, coconut oil, MCT oil, olive oil, and high oleic sunflower oil (opt for the high oleic variety, not the regular one). 
  • Additionally, use many herbs for cooking, such as oregano, thyme, coriander, turmeric and garlic. These spices have the beneficial properties of killing off pathogens such as bacteria, fungi and parasites in your intestines.   
  • Last but definitely not least, drink enough water (1.5- 2 liters per day) to keep the mucous membranes in your vagina well hydrated.   

Thus, the diet outlined above serves as an important basis for a healthy intestinal and vaginal environment. Moreover, it supports a robust immune system, making inflammation and infections less likely.  

What to avoid as much as possible:  

  • All forms of sugars and refined grains, including “white” varieties of bread, pasta, crackers, etc. Opting for whole-grain products is a better choice as they offer more nutrients and stabilize your blood sugar levels. However, it’s worth noting that some individuals may not tolerate gluten-containing grains like wheat, spelt, and rye well, particularly those with intestinal or hormonal issues. If you fall into this category, be careful when consuming these grains. 
  • Alcohol, soft drinks, fruit juices, and caution with coffee.  
  • Unhealthy fats, particularly omega-6 fatty acids, can intensify inflammation. These fats are prevalent in sunflower oil and other yellow oils like soybean oil, safflower oil, and corn oil, commonly used in processed foods. It’s essential to look carefully at product labels when purchasing items such as hummus, tapenade, and pesto, and aim to avoid those containing these oils. Additionally, it’s advisable to steer clear of margarine and cooking products that may contain unhealthy fats. 
  • If you have or suspect a candida infection, it’s crucial to avoid sugar and fast carbohydrates, as these can fuel the growth of candida. Additionally, minimizing consumption of yeasts and fungi in your diet is advisable to help keep candida in check. Consider reducing or eliminating intake of foods like French cheeses, fermented products, mushrooms, and soy sauce, which may contribute to candida overgrowth. 

Which probiotics are good for your vagina?  

Indeed, your diet is the basis for maintaining a healthy gut and vaginal microbiome. It provides essential fiber, or prebiotics, necessary for the growth of beneficial probiotic bacteria. However, it’s essential to ensure that there are enough probiotic bacteria in your gut and vagina to begin with. Dysbiosis, or imbalance in the gut microbiota, occurs when the ratio of good to harmful bacteria is disrupted. This imbalance can result from various factors such as poor diet, stress, infections, and medication use, particularly antibiotics. Addressing dysbiosis is crucial for restoring balance and promoting overall gut and vaginal health. 

You can replenish good bacteria with fermented foods such as kefir, raw sauerkraut, kimchi, (raw) yogurt, tempeh and miso. However, if you don’t consume these foods regularly, taking a probiotic supplement for a period can be beneficial. This is especially important after a course of antibiotics or if you’re experiencing issues with your intestines, skin, or vagina. 

When addressing vaginal complaints, it makes sense to choose a supplement with lactobacillus crispatus. However, other strains such as lactobacillus brevis, lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus rhamnosus, lactobacillus reuteri, and lactobacillus gasseri also support a healthy vaginal mucosa. You can find capsules containing these probiotics for oral consumption, or there are vaginal capsules available that work directly at the site of concern. Both options can help restore and maintain vaginal health by replenishing beneficial bacteria. 

Remember: it is therefore important to eat enough fiber in the process, to allow the probiotics to grow, otherwise there is a chance that they will simply disappear again after a probiotic treatment.   

Research Your Gut or Vaginal Microbiome  

But what if adjusting your diet and using probiotics isn’t enough and you continue to suffer from vaginal symptoms or recurring bladder infections? Perhaps you’ve had to take a lot of antibiotics in the past and your stomach isn’t happy either, it might be worth seeing an orthomolecular therapist to figure out what’s going on with your gut. 

A comprehensive check-up of your bowel can tell you a lot. It might reveal things like an overgrowth of candida (a type of yeast), harmful bacteria, damage to your intestinal lining (making it “leaky”), or food intolerances that are stopping your gut from healing properly. 

By taking a vaginal microbiome test, you can learn about your vagina’s pH level and the types of bacteria in your vaginal microbiome. These tests vary in complexity, ranging from simple pH-Balance tests to more comprehensive examinations. You can even conduct a test yourself to check for a vaginal yeast infection, opt for basic vaginal screening, or go for a thorough analysis of your entire vaginal microbiome. 

Interested in discovering which foods can promote hormone balance and support a healthy menstrual cycle? Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I’ll delve into that topic in more detail. Keep an eye out! 

If you’re interested in working with Laura Barbara then visit https://www.laurabarbara.nl

10% off on your next order?

Get a 10% discount on your next Yoni order when you sign up for our vulvalicious newsletter.
Sounds peachy right?

Drop your email address below and receive a discount code in your mailbox instantly.

Terms apply.