Can Foods Affect The Smell and Taste of Vaginal Discharge?

>> Monday, September 16, 2013

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Here is one of those questions many women wonder about, but usually don't ask: Is it possible for the foods we eat to affect the way our vaginal discharge smells or tastes?

At different times in every woman’s cycle, hormonal changes can cause our vaginal secretions to change in taste from sweet to salty or sour. The consistency and smell can change as well. But the smell and taste should never be offensive.

The odor and taste can also be different when aroused, or when sweating (or both). Infections, like yeast or bacterial vaginosis, can also cause changes in odor, taste and/or consistency - usually causing offensive, strong odors.

The foods I hear about most in this regard are raw garlic, citrus fruits (particularly pineapple), strawberries, coffee, asparagus, as well as alcohol, nicotine and vitamins. You can experiment with dietary changes, but beyond that (and normal hygiene), there’s not much you can do. In the end, it’s important to remember that as long as you have a healthy vagina, free from infection, it’s not about making it better or worse. Each woman simply has her own unique taste and smell.

As long as we are on the topic of food, allow me to talk about some healthy dietary choices for women.
Many fish (especially fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel) are important in our diet because they are full of the omega-3 fatty acids, and specifically two types known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), also found in 'green fed' beef. Nutritionists know that green fed beef and dairy are some of the healthiest foods we can eat, as they contain enormous healing properties for the body. The best is raw and cultured dairy, rather than the homogenized, pasteurized and irradiated dairy products on the grocery shelf today - which are void of much nutrition and have been linked to disease.

Beans are a good source of protein/fiber and may have protective effects against heart disease and breast cancer. According to some nutritionists, beans may play a role in stabilizing female hormones. It has been shown that women who ingest a large number of beans, including peanuts, have a lower incidence of breast cancer. Beans are known as one of the best sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber. They can help lower cholesterol, and their high level of a nutrient known as isoflavone can help in the regulation of hormones and may aid with PMS, perimenopause, or menopause symptoms. Other sources include red clover, kudzu, mung beans, alfalfa sprouts, black cohosh, and chickpeas.

Tomatoes, watermelon, red grapefruit, and red navel oranges contain lycopene, which we have all been hearing about because of all its health benefits for the heart and protection against breast cancer. It can also possibly keep us looking younger longer by protecting against UV damage from the sun.

Vitamin D3 is also all over the news and in women's magazines - we hear about the epidemic deficiency that we are seeing in 75-80% of all women tested. Vitamin D3 is known as the "Sunshine Hormone" because it takes sunshine to convert Vitamin D to the active, essential form known as Vitamin D3 that is needed by our bodies to prevent disease. Of course, many of us are working indoors and spending less and less time outdoors. When we do go outside, we use sunscreen and clothing to protect against skin cancer. Vitamin D3 deficiency will prevent the bones from absorbing calcium from the gut causing osteoporosis and severe bone loss. Because it is such a powerful immune system-booster and vital in reducing the risk of diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and tumors of the breast, colon, and ovary, it is important that we recognize any lack of D3 and correct it. Women deficient in Vitamin D3 can have a depressed mood, lack of energy or severe fatigue, and be susceptible to more colds and flu viruses. It is amazing that recent studies are showing that maintaining adequate blood levels of Vitamin D3 has the potential to prevent up to one half of all breast, colon, and ovarian cancer in the United States!

While Vitamin D is found in salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, it is also possible to take Vitamin D3 supplements and eat foods that are fortified with it.

Berries like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and cranberries are some of the best foods, and similar to wine, in that they carry powerful anti-cancer nutrients known as anthocyans, which are believed to play a role in cell repair. In fact, research has shown anthocyans may decrease the risk of several cancers, including those in the breast and gastrointestinal tract.

These fruits are also very high in vitamin C and folic acid, which is essential for all women in their childbearing years. They also have cancer-fighting properties. They are packed with powerful antioxidants, which protect the heart by preventing the oxidation of cholesterol. They also keep the skin beautiful and youthful by protecting against aging. Cranberries may help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections in women, while the nutrient lutein, found in all the berries, can help protect vision.

The healthier you are, the better your body will function, and the more likely your vaginal secretions (and breath!) will smell and taste healthy.

Hope you have a wonderful week,

Dr. Susan L. Boyd, MD
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