Cleaning up your diet to support healthy vaginal bacterial colonies

How your diet affects your microbes

You know who you are.

You know where the weaknesses lie in your diet – you do not need to be told. Too many drive-thrus, too much chocolate, too many afternoon biscuits, not enough vegetables.

If you are addicted to crappy food, unfriendly germs will love you. If you could look inside yourself – just into your intestines, not your soul (that’s a whole other topic) – and see the impact your diet had on your cells, you would think twice before scoffing down chips, sweets and fizzy drink.

Bad bacteria love sugar and crap food, so when you eat these things, you are feeding your bad bacteria primarily by not supporting your good bacteria. The daily execution of your friendly microbes is happening and it starts in your gut with poor food choices.

There is evidence to suggest that probiotic bacteria have an impact on the expression of hundreds of genes involved in the biosynthesis of nutrients, and if you have an unbalanced bacterial equation, you can be setting yourself up for some serious consequences not only right now, but down the track. This occurs because without the healthy microbes, our tissue gets degraded by unfriendly anaerobes. We cannot survive without the good germs.

Foods high in sugar, salt, fat, artificial preservatives and colours have a negative effect on your bowel flora. Take a really good hard look at your diet. Is it feeding your bad bacteria? The bad bacteria, your sugar addiction and junk receptors will fight back heartily, but don’t let your poor eating habits feed your bad bacteria and contribute to yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and other vaginal infections.

     Plant-based whole foods

The concept of eating real, whole food is by now so foreign to most of us as to seem out of reach. If you aren’t used to it, it can be perceived as being unaffordable (‘who can afford organics/wholefoods’), unpalatable (we get used to certain salty, sweet and fatty flavours), we just don’t know how to cook and make vegetables taste good, or worse is that our vegetables now taste so bland because they are made in nutrient-depleted soils with questionable farming methods. Food just ain’t what it used to be.

Once you start making food choices with an aim to improve your bacterial balance, you won’t look back. The first step here is finding reliable, cheap and good quality sources of whole foods. Ask around. Other people do it! Farmers markets, neighbours who grow food, your own garden – there are options, but you may need to look a bit harder than the local supermarket. Often supermarket vegetables are large, watery and bland in flavour, since they are bred to be big and ‘perfect’ looking.

Eat as many plants as you can in their unadulterated form, because they support your good bacteria by not being poisonous to them, and by containing prebiotics as a food source.

Find simple recipes and learn how to cook food that supports your microbes. Be discerning in your fight to be a force of nature that no bad bacteria want to mess with. Where possible choose organic, because it has no poisonous pesticide residue to kill off your good germs, and find yourself a healthy vegan cookbook, then add meat or dairy or eggs as you wish. It’s not about being vegan, but vegans typically have excellent digestive systems and tons of good bacteria. That isn’t to say that vegans can’t get vaginal infections or have bad diets – they do! – but that they tend to be more supportive of their good bacteria, especially really healthy vegans.

Simply excluding foods out of your usual recipes is a pathway to failure, since nothing will taste as good if you take away the delicious poison. Find recipes that are designed to be really tasty by themselves using herbs, spices and good raw ingredients.

     Avoid antacids

If you are getting acid reflux, heartburn or indigestion regularly, you may have some food intolerances or other problems that need ironing out. Get treatment – don’t wait until your oesophagus is burnt out.

In a pinch, take a shot of apple cider vinegar to manage acidity. Mix a shot glass or equivalent size with half water, half ACV, and down it. Yes it burns, but shortly after, resolves. Don’t drink milk – it makes it worse.

If after doing that your heartburn remains and an antacid is your only way out of pain and suffering, sure, do it, but otherwise avoid this. It causes a pH disruption that you can’t afford, leaving your gut open to unfriendly bacteria that would normally die in the hydrochloric acid, and reduces the efficacy of your digestion: you need the acid to help digest your food.

If you are on long-term medications for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD or GERD), things are likely to be more difficult for you, but definitely not impossible. Just eat more good bacteria than anyone you’ve ever seen before in your life! It may even improve help.