Bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections are the most common vaginal infections. Most women develop them at least once throughout their lifetime. Although various treatments exist, the word has it that a healthy, predominantly vegetarian diet is the best way to treat and prevent them.
The best way to determine whether or not this approach could work is to find out more about the conditions. We will review the basics in the following lines.
About BV and Yeast Infections: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Both types of infections are the result of an imbalance in the vaginal flora, namely low levels of good bacteria (lactobacilli) and overgrowth of bad bacteria (in BV) or candida (in yeast infections). Such imbalances appear due to various factors:
- Improper hygiene: sexual intercourse with multiple partners, vaginal douching, etc.
- Unhealthy diet, poor in micronutrients like calcium, folate, and vitamin C, vitamin E and rich in processed fatty and sugary foods
- Treatment with antibiotics and other drugs that affect the vaginal microflora
- Weak immune system
BV is accompanied by symptoms like burning sensation when peeing and grey or yellowish thin discharge with fishy odor. Yeast infections bring about vaginal irritation and itchiness, and a yellow-white discharge of cheesy consistency with a discrete yeasty smell.
Since both types of infections can affect self-confidence, well-being, and relationships, and even favor the development of other health conditions, treating them should be a priority for every sufferer. Over-the-counter treatments exist for both conditions.
However, it is important to note that, unless the infection cause is eliminated, reoccurrence risks are high. Moreover, some treatments bring about unwanted side-effects. For example, bacterial vaginosis is usually treated with antibiotics which, in turn, negatively affect gut and vaginal flora.
That is how the idea that the infections can be prevented and treated with a specific vegetarian diet emerged.
Treating BV and Yeast Infections with a Vegetarian Diet
Why vegetarian? The goal of the diet is to:
- Eliminate heavily-processed foods, rich in nitrites, additives, and preservatives (meat-derived products, dairy, etc)
- Supply high levels of good bacteria to help reverse the imbalance in the vaginal flora
- Balance the vaginal PH to prevent candida and bacterial overgrowth
- Boost the immune system
- Provide the body with valuable nutrients and decrease infection risks
Most of these goals are accomplished by the already famous Candida diet. However, this diet allows for meat and dairy, only recommending that they be of controlled origins, from ground-raised, grass-fed animals.
If you’ve read the news, you already know that scandals regarding the selling of regular products as organic, improper labeling, and other practices affected not just the U.S., but also other countries, like Germany, Belgium, and the UK.
Moreover, these products have few to no health benefits, so you really have no reason to keep including them in your diet. If it provides the right and necessary nutrients, a vegetarian diet should work miracles for your health. What would a vegetarian Candida and BV diet look like?
Besides products of animal origins, your diet should exclude or restricts consumption of:
- Sugary fruits, like bananas, raisins, grapes, dates, and mango
- Gluten-rich grains, like rye, wheat, spelt, and barley
- Refined fats and oils like margarine and heat-pressed oils of canola, soybean, palm-tree, or sunflower
- Processed sauces and dressings, like soy sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce, horseradish, mayonnaise, or horseradish
- Sugar (beet, cane), syrups (maple, agave, corn), molasses, honey, and artificial sweeteners like aspartame
- High-mold seeds and nuts (pistachio, pecan, cashew, and peanuts
- Sugary drinks (soda, energy drinks, fruit juice), alcohol (liquor, wine, beer), coffee, and caffeinated tea
- Any foods or drinks with added nitrates and/or sulfates
At this point, you are probably discouraged and worried that, once you eliminate these foods, you will have very few options left. However, that is not true. Here is what your diet should look like if you are serious about using it to prevent and treat BV and yeast infections.
Recommended Foods and Drinks
- Low-sugar fruits, like limes, lemons, and berries, eaten in small amounts or used to prepare tea, lemonade, or flavored water
- Non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, celery, cucumbers, eggplants, onions, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, rutabaga, etc., raw (in salads) or steamed
- Gluten-free grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and oat bran
- Healthy fats, from avocado, olives, coconut, flaxseed, and sesame
- Low-mold seeds and nuts, like chia, flaxseed, coconut, sunflower seeds, almonds
- Spices and herbs like turmeric, thyme, paprika, oregano, rosemary, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, dill, salt, garlic, etc.
- Home-made salad dressings from apple cider vinegar, lemon juice
- Probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, etc.
- Natural, sugar-free sweeteners like Stevia and erythritol
- Alcohol- and caffeine-free beverages like herbal teas, filtered water, homemade almond and/or coconut milk, filtered water, fruit-infused water, chicory coffee
As you devise your meal plan, pay attention to ensure an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals. You want to pay special attention to C, A, B, K, and E vitamins and secure a high intake of magnesium, potassium, and iron, calcium.
Supplementation with probiotics and certain vitamins and minerals could be necessary. However, you should consult your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or receiving treatment for various health conditions.
Stay hydrated, responsibly expose yourself to the sunrays, make sure you get enough sleep, and exercise. Although not directly linked to BV and yeast infections, stress will negatively affect your overall health and wellbeing, so you should avoid it.
To relieve it, consider walking, reading, listening to music, hanging out with people you love and feel comfortable around. While sexual intercourse can help relieve stress and improve your mood, you should practice it responsibly, with persons you know well and using adequate protection.
Finally, keep in mind that the above recommendations do not represent some quick fix but rather guidelines for a healthy infection-free life. This is a lifestyle that you should embrace with patience, commitment, and realistic expectations.