Vaginal pH balance probably isn’t something you’ve spent a much time considering. Why would you? It’s not a topic that’s commonly covered in sex ed classes and certainly doesn’t come up in daily conversation. So, realizing there are foods that throw off your pH balance might seem strange indeed.
Yet, the foods you eat really can affect your vagina, making it more acidic or alkaline. This effect matters, as a sudden increase in vaginal pH can make it easier for yeast and bacteria to survive in the vaginal canal, leading to symptoms like itching and a bad smell.
Such an increase also increases your infection risk. That’s the last thing you want.
So then, what’s a normal vaginal pH? There’s no absolute value, as your natural pH balance will change over time and as you age. However, you’ll normally be somewhere in the range of 3.5 to 4.5.
If you know anything about high school chemistry, you’ll know that this pH makes your vagina fairly acidic. That acidity is important for protecting you from infections. Read on to learn how you can keep your vagina at the pH it needs to be.
P.S. This post has focused on vaginal pH balance and the way that food affects this. However, this isn’t the only place where pH is relevant. You might also focus on alkaline rich foods to help with acidity in your body.
Most foods that mess with your pH balance also aren’t that good for you, so starting this list with candy makes complete sense. After all, most candies contain few nutrients. They’re mostly just a mass of sugar, fat, and artificial ingredients.
Sugar is the biggest problem here, as it can cause notable blood sugar spikes, while also increasing inflammation. Inflammation then contributes to a whole range of health problems. Too much sugar can also lead to the growth of bad bacteria, which can then make your vaginal pH even worse.
There are also the various health issues that come with too much sugar, like diabetes and the risk of weight gain. None of these are great for your sexual health either.
Cakes, Cookies, And Other Sweet Baking
Many baked goods are high in sugar as well. This includes cakes, cookies, danishes, and the like. Once again, you’re getting plenty of sugar. Many of these treats are also high in fat and calories.
Another problem is that most of these foods taste amazing. It’s hard to eat just a small serving. Many of us overdo it, which means we’re consuming far too much sugar at a time.
You probably guessed this one…
Ice cream is famous for being unhealthy, as it’s high in sugar, calories, and fat. Not great for your vaginal pH – or for your health in general.
This issue doesn’t just apply to regular ice cream either. Many plant-based ice cream products are almost as high in sugar and calories. Even seemingly healthy ice creams, like low sugar products, can cause issues due to their artificial ingredients.
As we’ll discuss later, healthy yogurt with probiotics can actually help your pH balance and promote better vaginal health. However, that’s not true for all types of yogurt.
Some yogurts have excessive amounts of added sugar and may rely on artificial ingredients as well. Such yogurts do more harm than good. Their sugar content certainly isn’t good for your pH balance.
So, you’ll need to pay close attention to the yogurts you buy. Look for those with reasonable levels of sugar, preferably those that avoid artificial additives.
Dried fruit might be a somewhat surprising addition to this list, as fruit is actually pretty healthy. The problem is that you’re getting a lot of sugar in a small serving, so it’s very easy to overdo it.
Despite the health benefits of fruit, too much dried fruit can still cause the same issues as other high sugar foods, like ice cream and candy. So, it’s important to keep an eye on your dried fruit intake.
We can’t forget chips either. They’re not high in sugar like many items on this list, but they have similar effects.
The issue here is the simple carbs. These carbs tend to be quickly digested and cause a familiar blood sugar spike. The salt on the chips might actually impact vaginal pH as well, so you’re getting a double whammy of negative effects.
Ultra Processed Foods
Processing is often important for creating nutritious foods. After all, soybeans or wheat straight from the field aren’t particularly helpful. Sometimes processing is even essential for making ingredients edible.
Problems arise when foods go through an extreme amount of processing. The processing steps break down many compounds, changing how your body digests them and your blood sugar responses.
Processed foods also tend to contain additives.
Now, the additives are another story entirely. While these have all been tested for safety, there’s still a lot we don’t know. Some of these additives could easily mess with your vaginal pH – and with your health in general.
Many Protein Bars And Cereal Bars
Protein bars are often used as a weight loss too, yet they’re not as healthy as they seem. Many products are highly processed and contain plenty of additives.
Cereal bars are often worse. These are often fairly high in carbs and low in protein. Some of them don’t offer many nutrients at all.
The amount of processing is an issue too. This often means you’re getting unexpected additives and an increased blood sugar effect. Honestly, it’s best to keep these bars for special occasions or make your own healthy versions.
Foods With Artificial Sweeteners
We’ve been talking a lot about the effects of sugar. Yet, sugar free foods aren’t the answer. Many of these rely on artificial sweeteners and those sweeteners can cause just as many issues for your vaginal pH as sugar.
This means that sugar free foods aren’t certainly aren’t a magic bullet. It’s better to focus on healthier foods instead, ones that are naturally low in sugar.
Some Breakfast Cereals
Breakfast cereals seem like they should be good for you. After all, they’re meant to be what you eat first thing in the morning.
Yet, many aren’t healthy whatsoever. They’re often incredibly processed and contain a large amount of sugar. That’s not great first thing in the morning.
Thankfully, breakfast cereals aren’t all bad. There are some healthy products out there too, including cereals that are lower in carbs and contain plenty of protein (often from nuts).
So, if you’re going to eat breakfast cereals, try paying close attention to the ingredients list. You might even make your own healthy cereal instead.
While we’re on the topic of breakfast, let’s talk about instant oatmeal. Regular oatmeal is great for health, as it’s a whole grain breakfast that gives you plenty of fiber.
Instant oatmeal is a little different. It tends to be much higher in sugar and sometimes includes artificial flavors. Sometimes you’re even getting a few teaspoons of added sugar per serving.
Instant oats have also been more processed than other types of oats. So, even without much added sugar, they’ll still lead to a blood sugar spike.
Meat With Hormones
According to some theories, hormones from meat could impact vaginal pH, particularly if you eat a large amount of red meat.
Thankfully, this issue is easily avoided by choosing hormone-free meat. Look for products that are marketed as hormone-free or are USDA certified organic. Decreasing your meat intake and focusing more on plant-based protein could help as well.
Dairy With Hormones
It’s not just meat you need to think about. Dairy can also potentially take on hormones from the animal. Again, the trick is to look for products that come from hormone-free animals.
It must be said that the science is limited here. There’s much debate about whether enough hormones from animals make their way into milk and meat to have any health impacts.
In the end, you need to pay attention to your own responses. See whether red meat or dairy impact your vagina or whether you can enjoy them safely.
Good Foods For Vaginal Health
Some foods mess with your vaginal pH, but other foods can make things much better. Here are a few options to add to your diet.
You’ve heard about probiotics, right? They’re healthy microbes found in fermented foods that can help with microbe balance in your gut.
There are plenty of probiotic foods to choose from, including kimchi, kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut. Such foods have other benefits too. They can even help with sinus problems and leg cramps, which is pretty impressive.
Then there are prebiotics.
Prebiotics aren’t as famous as probiotics, but they’re just as important. Basically, prebiotics are a type of fiber that acts as food for the bacteria in your gut. There are plenty of prebiotic rich foods you can add to your diet, all of which can improve your gut health.
Staying hydrated is a crucial part of moderating the pH balance of your vagina. It’s probably the most important thing you can do. When you get enough water, your vagina stays hydrated and can effectively flush out bacteria.
Drinking water is one way to do this, but you can also turn to water rich foods. Cucumbers, watermelon, and tomatoes are just a few examples. These are a great way to increase your water intake. You could experiment with zucchini noodles too, as these are also rich in water and are a great alternative to carb rich noodles.