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From boosting libido, reducing cramps to fighting off bad bacteria, what you put on your plate can directly benefit the health of your vagina and vulva, says Stephanie Taylor, pelvic health expert and Managing Director of Kegel8.
Here’s her pick of the six best foods to keep your intimate parts happy and healthy according to Kegel8…
Dark chocolate relaxes muscles and reduces painful cramps
Love a sweet treat? Then here’s the good news – those squares of your favourite chocolate bar could be doing you more good than you realise. ‘Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, which is highly effective at relaxing muscles – perfect if you suffer from painful period cramps,’ says Stephanie. ‘It can also help your body produce more serotonin, the mood-boosting hormone, alleviating mood swings and irritability.’
Cranberries reduce the risk of UTIs
Anyone who’s ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI) knows just how painful, uncomfortable and frustrating they can be. Want to lower your risk of a future bout? Then snack on cranberries.‘Cranberries are rich in PACs (A-type proanthocyanidins), which help prevent urinary tract infections by stopping bacteria sticking to the bladder wall,’ says Stephanie. ‘While cranberries can’t treat UTIs, some studies have found that they can help prevent UTIs in women who are susceptible to these infections. Go for the real deal and eat whole cranberries, rather than juice.’
Leafy greens give you better orgasms
Were you always told as a child to eat your greens? If you didn’t listen to the advice then, it’s essential you listen now. ‘Leafy greens like spinach, kale and lettuce are all-round health boosters,’ says Stephanie. ‘They’re naturally high in nitrates, which the body converts into nitric oxide. This chemical dilates blood vessels and improves circulation, including to the vaginal area, helping to keep dryness at bay and giving you stronger (and more frequent) orgasms.’
Avocados increase your libido
Not only are these great for looking delicious on social media, but your avo-addiction is also ideal for keeping your vagina healthy. ‘They’re packed full of healthy fats, vitamin B6 and potassium, all of which have positive effects on your libido and support the vagina’s natural ability to take care of itself,’ says Stephanie. ‘Just a quarter of an avocado a day is enough to reap the benefits. Try sliced in a sandwich, added to your morning smoothie or as a side to any meal with a squeeze of lime and sprinkling of chilli.’
Fermented food reduces your risk of bacterial vaginosis
‘Commonly found in Asian cuisines, fermented foods such as kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh and pickles are bursting with healthy bacteria which can help your vagina maintain its natural pH levels,’ says Stephanie. ‘This is essential as the vagina naturally contains good and bad bacteria, which are carefully balanced. If this balance is thrown off, your risk of developing an infection, such as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), increases,’ explains Stephanie. Prefer something with less punch? Natural yogurt also contains the same live active cultures.
Almonds help prevent vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of the menopause, but you don’t have to suffer in silence.
‘Packed full of vitamin E, almonds can be a saviour,’ says Stephanie. ‘Vitamin E oils and moisturisers can cause irritability if applied inside and around your vagina, so instead, make sure your diet contains vitamin-E rich foods like almonds to reduce dryness and keep your sex life at its best.’