Intimate issues? 5 everyday ingredients that can help

Which simple solutions can help keep you feeling more comfortable?



Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
@EmmaThornton
Ask Emma


18 October 2018

1- Cod liver oil

How can it help?

Although it’s not a very frequent recommendation at A.Vogel, cod liver oil does have its place as its rich in vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential, fat-soluble vitamin which is particularly important for supporting mucous membranes around our bodies. Mucous membranes are special tissues that line entrance points on the body such as our nose, lungs, digestive tract, vagina and urinary tract. 

As vitamin A is essential, this means we need to obtain it from our diets as we can’t manufacture more of it if we are running low. So, by upping your intake of vitamin A, you can help ensure that your mucous membranes are moist, healthy and less likely to succumb to infection, whether it’s UTIs, cystitis or thrush which tends to trouble you most.

How can you top up?

Cod liver oil can be difficult to obtain through dietary sources but plant-based sources of vitamin A are readily available. This includes colourful fruit and vegetables such as apricots, carrots, tomatoes, pumpkin, bell peppers, sweet potato, spinach, broccoli and Brussel sprouts so include lots of these in your diet in order to up your intake. Oily fish including mackerel and salmon, as well as eggs are also good sources of this essential vitamin. 

Need an extra dose? My top supplement picks 

High strength vitamin A supplements wouldn’t be recommended unless under the guidance of your doctor. Instead, diet is a good place to start increasing your intake and if you want an extra dose, you can top up with a good quality cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is rich in omega-3 which is naturally anti-inflammatory, but it also has the benefit of containing a good content of fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A and D. 

2 - Cinnamon  

How can it help?

Cinnamon’s long been considered as a tasty culinary ingredient as it works well in both sweet and savoury dishes alike. However, did you know that this humble spice may have some therapeutic qualities to offer too? 

See, cinnamon has been shown in research to have beneficial effects on glycaemic control when used daily over a period of 4 months1. We know that blood sugar control can be a major risk factor for cystitis, but also when it comes to thrush, too much refined sugar in the diet may also exacerbate symptoms. With better glycaemic control, sugar cravings are also more easily managed, so cinnamon may have more benefits than one!

How can you top up? 

Get in the habit of using cinnamon in your cooking. Start the day by infusing cinnamon into breakfast dishes such as porridge or flapjacks, or add a pinch to curries, stews or casserole where it can add a delicate flavour to savoury dishes, without being overpowering. 

Need an extra dose? My top supplement picks 

If the taste of cinnamon just isn’t your thing or if you feel you want to include a larger amount in your daily diet (2-6g daily has been used in preliminary trials), then cinnamon in supplement form may be a better option for you. 

3 - Turmeric

How can it help?

Nowadays, turmeric is becoming popular for a number of reasons. Part of the reason the benefits of turmeric are so widespread is because the active ingredient, curcumin, helps to tackle inflammation and, as we’re gradually learning, inflammation appears to be at the root of a large number of conditions. 

Although more large scale trials are required, preliminary trials have found that curcumin was an important ingredient in helping to manage recurrent cystitis in menopausal women2, again this makes sense as we know inflammation has a part to play here. 

Interestingly, there’s also reason to believe that chronic inflammation could also play a part in disrupting blood sugar – a common risk factor when it comes to cystitis. 

How can you top up?

Much like cinnamon, turmeric can be used in cooking and as part of a diet loaded with fresh ingredients. In cooking, turmeric is best used alongside fats including ghee, coconut oil or coconut milk, as well as other herbs and spices such as black pepper, as would have been the case traditionally. These ingredients are thought to help support its absorption.  

Need an extra dose? My top supplement picks 

If you feel you need to up your levels, get an extra dose with a handy liquid spray. Only one spray daily may help you to manage inflammatory processes in the body.

4 - Yoghurt 

How can it help?

The intake of yoghurt is controversial and it may not be for everyone, however good quality yoghurts (no added sugar please) can have their benefits and here’s why – probiotics. 

Now, if you’ve heard the term but aren’t quite sure what they are, probiotics are beneficial bacteria and we need them in our lives! Good bacteria line every inch of your body, both inside and out, quite literally, and we need them there to fend off nastier strains of bacteria which, when given half a chance, can give rise to uncomfortable infections such as cystitis. 

By topping up your levels of good bacteria, you will have happier gut (which will help with symptoms such as bloating or dodgy bowel movements to name a few), but actually the effects of these good guys can translate to nearby places too, including your urinary tract. 

How can you top up?

Fermented foods are the go-to if you’re looking to up your intake of good bacteria. Yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, natto, kimchi and kombucha are all good options. A wider variety of fermented foods are becoming more readily available in health food stores and even supermarkets nowadays. Alternatively, why not try and make your own at home with the help of my video? It’s dead easy when you know how! 

Need an extra dose? My top supplement picks 

If you’re someone who suffers from recurrent cystitis or thrush, if anything, I recommend you consider trying out a probiotic supplement. Specially tailored for women, Optibac have created a formula aimed at targeting symptoms associated with issues such as cystitis or thrush. Bad bacteria, yeast, you name it, this way you can help to overcome it.

5 - Fruit 

How can it help?

People often worry about sugar when it comes to issues like cystitis, and yes, you’re right in thinking that we should be wary– of refined sugar but fruit is generally a very good option as it is particularly high in vitamin C. 

Vitamin C is an antioxidant which means it helps to fend off harmful free radicals in the body which can ultimately damage the cells which line every inch of us. As well as preventing damage, vitamin C also has an important part to play in repairing our cells, and we know after damage from one infection, cells which aren’t properly recovered can be more likely to succumb to subsequent infections. Unfortunately, this is often what’s likely to be going on when it comes to cases of recurrent cystitis.

Finally, it’s important to note that vitamin C also supports the immune system and of course we need our immune system to be in tip top condition in order to successfully detect elevated levels of bad bacteria, before they have a chance to develop into a full-blown infection.

How can you top up?

Fruit is so readily available nowadays, however, many of us don’t know what to do with it or we see it as boring. In reality though, fruit can be super versatile if you let it be! Think overnight oats recipes, interesting smoothies, sweet or savoury dishes, baked fruit, frozen fruit – you name it! 

For many of us, we need to try and get out of the habit of eating the same fruit, day in day out. If you aim to go for seasonal fruit it will mean you get a bigger variety all year round, and fruit is also at its most nutritious when it’s in season. This suggests that the vitamin C content, for one, will be more impressive – just one other reason to mix up your fruit! 

Need an extra dose? My top supplement picks 

When it comes to vitamin C, you can have a good go at getting it through your diet, however if recurrent infections have recently troubled you, you might benefit from a little extra. 

Nature-C is made from natural fruit extracts, including acerola cherry which boasts one of the highest contents of vitamin C out there. So, this is just the form that your bodily will recognise and make better use of – result!

 

1. https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/22579946

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27838537

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If you suffer from both recurring thrush and cystitis, or find that when you develop one, the other follows soon after, you’ll know how frustrating it can be.

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Here’s what I recommend

Emma our women's health advisor recommends Uva-ursi complex to help ease symptoms of cystitis and cranberry to maintain bladder health.

Learn more

Did you know?

Cystitis is sometimes known as ‘honeymoon cystitis’. Why? Well, during sex, bacteria can spread from the perineum to the urethral opening. The risk of developing cystitis is therefore increased depending on the frequency you have intercourse (sorry honeymooners!).

7 reasons you keep getting cystitis

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