Does vaginal health start in the kitchen?
Most women experience a yeast infection during their life. Yeast infections are very common, affecting up to 75% of women with over 200,000 reported cases in the US per year. According to CDC, as many as 40%-45% of women experience recurring vaginal yeast infection, requiring careful consideration in optimal treatment and prevention.
So what can you do to prevent yeast infections instead of just relying on treatment? One way to begin is to make good choices throughout your daily lifestyle, starting with your diet.
Preventing yeast infection with the Candida Diet
It’s no surprise that food plays a huge role in our well-being. By making the right choices, you can help prevent yeast infections from recurring with a diet that balances the bacteria that can help prevent infections in your system.
What is the Candida Diet?
90% of vaginal yeast infections are caused by a bacteria called candida albicans, (which is where the name of the Candida diet comes from). The Candida diet is a “low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet” that promotes foods that rebalance bacteria in the gut and the body.
It’s important to choose food that strengthens your immune system and can help balance the level of good bacteria in your gut. General rules when following this diet involve food that is:
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Non-glutinous grains
- Healthy proteins
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi
- Suggested “antifungal foods like garlic, rutabaga, coconut oil and olive oil”
Because candida tends to thrive off sugar, it is important to limit junk food and other sources of sugar in your diet. Sugar is what gives the bacteria the means to grow and spread, thereby increasing your risk of getting yeast infections. The diet suggests avoiding foods like:
- High-sugar fruits and fruit juice
- Glutinous grains like rice
- Refined or processed fats and proteins
- Caffeinated or sugary drinks
- Alcoholic drinks
Not only is it important to eat a balanced, wholesome diet that can improve your overall well-being, but it can play a key role in influencing the growth of bacteria in your body that can cause infections. For women suffering from recurring yeast infections, the Candida diet suggests also taking probiotics and antifungals while on this diet in order to best rebalance the bacteria in your body and start you towards a healthier, infection-free life.
How can you treat a yeast infection?
Prevention might not work all of the time, so what should you do once you get a yeast infection? Most treatments prescribed by a doctor include antifungal ointments, tablets and other prescriptions for simple yeast infections. While these treatments are effective, there are preventive measures you can take to stop infections from happening in the first place.
There are a number of alternative natural treatments that are popular for treating and also preventing these kinds of infections. Some home treatments include taking probiotics, like yogurt or pills, to balance the growth of bacteria in your body. Another popular remedy is taking an apple cider vinegar bath to flush out harmful bacteria. Some studies have found that using probiotics could help reduce symptoms of yeast infections, while other research shows that apple cider vinegar does have antifungal effects against bacteria that cause yeast infections. But most data on natural treatments are limited to anecdotal evidence, and so research on their effectiveness as well as their side effects remain to be further explored.