If your vagina could talk, she’d probably ask for a snack. Turns out, the right foods and beverages can keep your vagina healthy, ease discomfort, stave off infections, and even spice things up a bit between the sheets. Here’s exactly what to snack and sip on for optimal below-the-belt health.
FOR FEWER UTIS…
You’ve likely heard that guzzling cranberry juice can help fight urinary tract infections. And that’s true: The juice contains compounds that help stop infection-causing bacteria from sticking to your bladder wall’s tissue. But cranberry juice is also loaded with sugar, which means you probably don’t really want to be downing the stuff on a daily basis.
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Instead? Try green tea. Findings show that the catechins in this brew have a potent antimicrobial effect that could help fight UTIs. “By drinking green tea, catechins are passed through the urinary tract, decreasing bacteria and hence decreasing the risk of infection,” says Dr Carolyn DeLucia. Sipping two to three cups a day should do the trick, DeLucia says.
If your period tends to come with a side of abdominal pain, eat more fish. Cramping during that time of the month is caused by the release of inflammatory compounds called prostaglandins, which help your uterus muscles contract and shed tissue. But theomega-3 fatty acids in fish, like salmon and tuna, boast anti-inflammatory compounds that studies suggest may help ease this discomfort.
FOR FEWER YEAST INFECTIONS…
A healthy vagina is home to plenty of lactobacillus, a type of good bacteria that helps your tissues maintain a healthy pH level, says DeLucia. It’s also home to yeast like candida. Normally, the acidity from the lactobacillus keeps the yeast from growing out of control. But the good bacteria can take a hit from things like antibiotic use, menopause, unmanaged diabetes, or even using birth control or hormonal therapy. And when that happens, you’re at higher risk for developing a yeast infection.
Thankfully, regularly eating probiotic-rich foods like plain yogurt, sauerkraut, or kimchi, tempeh, and miso can make a difference. “Probiotics help maintain the healthy balance of bacteria to promote a good pH to promote the healthy growth of lactobacillus,” DeLucia says.
Vaginal dryness is the unpleasant result of reduced levels of estrogen, which helps keep your tissues elastic and well lubricated. But menopause, childbirth, breastfeeding, and even the use of certain allergy and cold medications can all cause your estrogen levels to fall, leaving you dry and uncomfortable.
Try eating more minimally processed soy foods, like organic edamame, tofu, or tempeh. They contain estrogen-mimicking plant compounds called isoflavins, says DeLucia. They’re also hydrophilic—meaning they’re good at attracting more water to your tissues.
FOR MORE FUN IN BED…
An apple a day doesn’t just keep the doctor away. It might also boost your session in the sack: A study published in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that women who snack on apples more than once a day had higher levels of lubrication andsexual function compared to those who ate apples less than once a day.
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That reason could be that apples contain phloridzin, a compound that mimics the female sex hormone estradiol. What’s more, apples are loaded with polyphenols that help boost blood flow to vaginal tissue, which makes it easier to climax. Talk about a fruit with benefits.
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