Foods That Boost and Prevent Vaginal Yeast Infections
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Written by: Mariam Naz, Professional Food Scientist & Nutritionist
A healthy Miss V consists of several different types of bacteria and yeast cells.
The fungi aid in the absorption of nutrients and digestion when normal amounts are present. In turn, they maintain a natural environment in the body.
One type of fungus present in the vagina is what's known as candida. It can be found in and around one's nose, skin, fingernails, bowels, belly, and mouth. While candida is a naturally occurring fungus, when overgrown, it can cause yeast infections.
The estrogen hormone in a woman's body helps to grow a bacteria called lactobacilli. This bacteria's job is to keep the vagina healthy by killing harmful organisms inside it.
When the balance of the bacteria is disturbed, it causes yeast cells to multiply, resulting in an insanely uncomfortable and itchy situation. This is what's known as a yeast infection of the vagina or simply candidiasis.
Stress is one of the biggest culprits as it causes your immune system to be compromised.
This, in turn, creates an environment where yeast will grow in large numbers and contaminates different parts of the body. The type of infection that creates these problems in the vagina is developed from a strain of the fungus called Candida albicans.
Did you know, approximately 75% of all women will experience a yeast infection at least once in their lifetime?
What's more, it is around 45% of them will then experience repeat infections. This is because getting rid of yeast infections is quite difficult, even after successfully treating them with medication and antifungal treatments. The best options are preventative measures, and your diet can help.
It is essential to create a diet that strengthens the immune system. This is beneficial and helps fortify your vagina against different types of infections. Here are some of the foods that can boost your immune system and help to prevent future yeast infections.
Plain Yogurt and Probiotics
Yogurt is a probiotic food that contains live bacterial cultures, including Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Lactobacillus acidophilus helps keep your pH in the acidic range. It prevents the risk of yeast and other types of infections. According to Alyssa Dweck, MD, a New York-based ob-gyn and co-author of "The Complete A to Z for your V," tells health, "Probiotics can help keep the vaginal pH at the same level no matter what else is going on."
The pH measurement tells us how acidic or basic something is. Just like everything else, your vagina has a specific pH level. A healthy vagina is more on the acidic side, ranging from 3.5 to 4.5.
Vaginal pH should not fluctuate. If the vaginal pH changes, then it becomes a host for bacteria and other organisms to grow, which can lead to several infections. Particularly the yeast infections. Exercise, stress, and sex are among several factors that can change your vagina's pH levels. However, when healthy, your vagina maintains its normal pH.
If you find that eating yogurt doesn't really work, try supplements with probiotics. Probiotics help digestion, keep the right population of good bacteria in the body, and help you with yeast infections. These supplements of probiotics should contain the strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Garlic has strong antifungal properties. This is due to the allicin substance that forms when fresh garlic is crushed or chopped.
According to studies, taking garlic supplements in capsule form does not affect vaginal yeast infections. It is recommended to ingest fresh garlic in reasonable amounts as excess is not suitable for overall vaginal health.
In another study, it has been suggested that this active ingredient of turmeric may prevent the yeast from forming infections in the vagina.
Coriander seeds are found in parts of cilantro plants. They are a good source of fiber, iron, copper, magnesium, and manganese. Consumption of coriander helps prevent bacteria that is responsible for vaginal yeast infections.
You can swallow a few drops of coriander or eat it by mixing in lemon zest, brown sugar, and essential oils for a mouthwatering seasoning mix.
Oregano is a popular medicinal remedy that helps prevent bacterial and fungal infections of the vagina. According to research, Candida albicans cause around 90% of yeast infections, and, while used as an essential oil, oregano is effective at combating them.
Extracts from papaya leaves and seeds are very beneficial to preventing vaginal yeast infections. Not to mention, a serving of papaya has about 115% of your daily value of vitamin C, which is helpful to ward off other infections in the body.
Virgin Coconut Oil
There are two types of coconut oil, refined and unrefined or virgin. Refined coconut oil describes a process that expels the oil, while unrefined goes through less or no process. As a result of the refining process, the antioxidants and minerals are stipend away and are of no use for vaginal health. While virgin coconut oil is mature and fresh. It has been found that pure coconut oil is very effective at fighting Candida albicans.
Consumption of excessive amounts of sweets is not healthy for the vagina. People prone to yeast infections should cut down the number of fruits and sweets they consume as sugar can promote yeast infections. The ideal environment for yeast to thrive is in rich, moist environments.
According to Dr. Shirazian, the pH of the vagina changes by eating foods with a high concentration of sugar that allow the growth of yeast and other infections in the vagina. Therefore, it is best to limit the amounts of sweets to avoid overgrowth of yeast. In addition to sugar, these foods can increase yeast infections:
And other foods and/or drinks fermented with yeast
Although diet is challenging to maintain, avoiding these foods can help save you from those pesky yeast infections.