“Bacterial Vaginosis and Diet” In the same way fermented pickles,
kimchi, and sauerkraut foster the growth of good
bacteria like lactobacillus by maintaining an acidic environment,
so does the human vagina. The normal pH of one’s vagina
is that of tomato juice. Once it starts creeping up
to that of, coffee,though, an overgrowth of bad bacteria
can take hold and cause bacterial vaginosis, which affects an
astounding 29% of American women— that’s nearly 1 in 3 women
in the United States. That makes it the most frequent
cause of vaginal complaints among younger women,
affecting tens of millions. It’s commonly diagnosed
with the so-called whiff test, where the doctor takes a
whiff of the vaginal discharge sniffing for the characteristic
fishy odor. Traditional risk factors for bacterial
vaginosis include douching, which has also been associated
with a wide range of problems. So with no demonstrable benefits
and considerable evidence of harm, women should be encouraged
to not douche. Medical professionals
need to clearly explain that the vagina is naturally
self-cleaning. Recently, poor nutrition has
been added to the list of risk factors. You appear more likely
to get bacterial vaginosis if you have lower levels
circulating in your bloodstream of phytonutrients like
vitamin C and beta carotene, indicating a lower intake
of fruits and vegetables. “In recent years, though, the field
of nutrition has shifted towards examining overall dietary scores
as opposed to single nutrients,” “because it has become recognized that
nutrients are not consumed in isolation,” that individuals consuming
one health-promoting nutrient also tend to consume
many others, “and that the specific source
of nutrients may be of importance.” What a concept! So nutrient rich food
indexes have been devised to enable folks to get the most
nutrients out of their calories. And the more nutrient
rich one’s diet, the lower one’s apparent
risk for bacterial vaginosis. Why, though? Well, it’s thought that high fat intake,
particularly saturated fat — which comes mostly from dairy,
doughnuts, chicken, in this country– may increase vaginal pH, thereby
increasing the risk of bacterial vaginosis. So now that we know,”The next steps
ahead, include sharing these findings with gynecologists, obstetricians,
general practitioners,” “as well as increasing the awareness
of the general community to the importance of
optimal nutrition”… “to prevent infections
of the genital tract, reduce associated disease,
and maintain reproductive health.”