If you look through the R’s KOSO videos and blogs, you won’t find a shortage of content teaching you about gut probiotics and the gut microbiome. However, bacteria colonies do not only exist in the G.I. tract, they can be found across the body, influencing the health and function of the entire human system.
Probiotics are a massive area of study within sexual health for folks with vaginas. The actual composition of vaginal microbes relies on their environment, as well as factors such as age, genetics, lifestyle, and diet. (3) Currently, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the discussion of vaginal health, but it is so important to take care of the reproductive organs!
The reality is the vaginal microbiome is both complex and constantly fluctuating throughout monthly menstrual cycles as well as across a lifespan and therefore it requires a balanced diet of whole foods and bacteria-healthy nutrients to preserve the equilibrium. (2)
Vaginal Health and Lactobacilli
The most dominant type of bacteria found in the vagina of healthy people is the lactobacillus species. And they play a big part in preserving the hygiene and health status of this reproductive organ by producing lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, both of which kill harmful bacteria by keeping vaginal pH to 4.5 or below. Low Lactobacilli is related to health concerns such as Bacterial Vaginosis, which is a condition that is associated with Sexually Transmitted Infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and preterm births. (2) (3)
This type of bacteria is naturally found in fermented dairy cultures, and studies have shown that women who ate yogurt containing live cultures have higher levels of lactobacilli in their vaginas than their counterparts who don’t. (1)
Nutrition for Healthy Vaginal Microbiome
The most well-researched diet that is associated with healthy bacteria balance in the vagina is one that is high in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, and whole grains. These foods help the vaginal microbiome self-regulate and flourish. (1)
The one thing to surely avoid for good vaginal health is an excess of refined sugars. This increases the body’s inflammatory response while also feeding harmful bacteria across the body, which can lead to bacterial overgrowth conditions and infections. (1)
It is also highly advisable to incorporate fermented foods and foods rich in prebiotics into your daily routine. (1) Prebiotic fibers are found in specific plants that help to feed and proliferate the good bacteria, while probiotic-rich fermented foods help to replenish symbiotic bacteria colonies. Similar to how the previous section describes the research findings about lactobacilli in fermented dairy products.