Sooo…what have you been feeding your vagina lately? It might sound like a crazy question on the surface, but if it is indeed true that we are what we eat, this means that whatever we put into our mouths, our va-jay-jay is not exempt from receiving whatever is in it—good or bad.
I don't know what it is, but the older that I get, the more intentional I am about paying my vagina some much-needed attention. A part of the reason may be because a part of me wishes I had been more cautious about who I let enter into her back in the day and I want to pamper her for riding a lot of that "hindsight foolishness" out for so long. Also, it could be because those three grey pubic hairs that have popped up are reminders that everything ages; even vulvas. Plus, I'm learning to love on every part of me, from head to toe, unconditionally so (which is what a stunning YouTuber by the name of Salkis Re reminded me to do when she popped up in my suggestion feed recently).
Anyway, in the effort to give the gateway to my womb the love, in the form of nutrition, that it deserves, I've been switching up my diet a bit by feeding my body with foods that directly benefit my vagina. There are actual foods that do it? Yep. And I'll tell you what, sis. Ever since I've been consuming them, I can tell the difference too. Real talk.
1. Dark Leafy Greens
If there's a vegetable that all of us need to consume on a daily basis, it's dark leafy greens. They all have lots of antioxidants in them. Kale specifically is loaded with vitamins A, E and K, and beta-carotene (a type of antioxidant). Collards are a powerful source of calcium, folate and vitamins A and C. Spinach has vitamins A, K and manganese. Turnip greens have calcium, manganese, folate, and vitamins A and C in them. Arugula and Romaine lettuce are full of vitamins A and K too. All of these greens help to keep you regular, support bone health, reduce stress and boost digestive enzymes and your immune system.
The great thing about dark leafy greens as it relates to your vagina is the fact that they help to purify your blood, increase your blood's circulation (including to your vaginal region) and, they are able to relieve vaginal dryness due to their ability to sexually stimulate (via the increase in your blood's circulation) you too.
A kind of food that definitely does your body good is squash. Not only is it loaded with vitamins A, B6, C along with folate, fiber, riboflavin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, it's a vegetable that is proven to aid in the management of diabetes, while keeping your eyes and lungs healthy and, even preventing anemia.
Another awesome thing about squash is it's got a lot of zinc in it. If you're prone to having recurring bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections, zinc can help to keep both of those at bay. There are also studies to support the fact that there is a direct link to low libidos and zinc deficiency. Just one more reason to have some squash this evening, right?
In order for our bodies to get the probiotics that we need so that our digestive system remains healthy, it helps to eat fermented foods. Just what is a fermented food exactly? It's a natural process that transpires when foods that contain sugar and starch are converted into alcohol or acids so that they can act as a natural preservative. Anyway, when your body has probiotics in it, it will lead to a stronger immune system, less anxiety, a healthier heart, less weight around your midsection and less calorie intake.
Your vagina will love a fermented food—well, drink—like kombucha (it's pretty much a fermented sweet tea) because it will keep yeast from overtaking your vagina, maintain your vagina's natural flora and make you less susceptible to urinary tract and bacterial infections. Kombucha will also help to keep your vagina smelling good and tasting less acidic too.
4. Bell Peppers
If you like to cook with bell peppers, whether you realize it or not, you're doing wonders for your health. Bell peppers have a good amount of vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, as well as potassium, copper, fiber and folate. Something else that bell peppers have in them is carotenoids which fights off eye disease and various kinds of cancer. Bell peppers also contain nutrients that properly maintain cognitive abilities, fight signs of aging, improve respiratory and digestive health and, thanks to the phosphorus that are in them, they are also the kind of veggies that ensure proper blood flow (including to your nether regions).
Something else that's cool about bell peppers is the amount of C that's in them can help to fight and prevent future bacterial vaginosis attacks. And, the Vitamin E that's in them, will boost your libido in the process.
Almonds are high in calcium, magnesium and Vitamin E. Cashews are rich in iron and oleic acid (a fatty acid that is great for your skin, fights infections and burns fat; olive oil contains a ton of it). Hazelnuts also have oleic acid in them, along with vitamins B and E, magnesium and calcium. Peanuts are loaded with folate and Vitamin E. Walnuts contain omega 3 fats, antioxidants and phytosterols (a plant sterol that regulates your body's cholesterol levels). So yeah, whether you eat a handful of one of these or a combo, you're in for a pretty beneficial snack.
On the sex tip, nuts do your body good because they are considered to be healthy fats that will regulate your cholesterol levels. When your cholesterol is in good shape, your hormones (including your sex hormones) are stabilized. That results in a healthy mucosal lining throughout your body to fight off infections (including vagina infections) and a healthy sex drive as well.
Considering that celery is made up of 95 percent water, it's kind of a trip how beneficial it is. It's got antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that support digestion. It also has vitamins A, B, K and folate, magnesium and potassium in it. Some other things that are cool about celery is it treats high blood pressure and it's a muscle relaxant. Celery also aids in weight loss, relieves bloating and can reduce the risk of contracting a urinary tract infection.
When it comes to your vagina, celery also has a lot of vitamin C, beta carotene, and flavonoids in it; this is good because they all help your vagina to maintain a healthy pH balance. As a bonus, celery can remove the bitter taste that your vaginal fluids may have.
7. Guava Fruit
Guava fruit is a fruit that's in season from November to April. It's got vitamin C, potassium, fiber and antioxidants in it; all of these things work together to lower your blood sugar levels, prevent fine lines and wrinkles, fight and prevent cancer cells, give you consistent bowel movements and even reduce the intensity of menstrual cramps.
Vaginally, for years, Indian women have boiled guava leaves and used them as a wash to treat vaginal infections. Drinking the "tea" that the boiled leaves create can also get rid of any unpleasant vaginal odor you may have. And, thanks to the C that's in it, guava fruit can keep your sexual appetite strong.
I don't know about you, but salmon makes me pretty happy and I really like that it's as good for me as it is to me. The omega-3 acids in it will decrease inflammation and reduce the risk of cancer. Because of how much protein that's in salmon, it helps to protect your bones and maintain muscle mass. If you don't feel like taking a B-complex pill, a slice of salmon has about every B vitamin you can think of in it. It's also a great source of potassium, selenium and the antioxidant astaxanthin which lowers your heart disease risk and increases your skin's elasticity and hydration.
It's because of astaxanthin that salmon also made the list. Consuming this kind of fish 1-2 times a week will aid in increasing vaginal lubrication in both pre- and post-menopausal women.
9. Black Eyed Peas
Some of us eat black eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck; health-wise, we just might be onto something by doing so. For starters, they deliver 20 percent of the daily value of magnesium, calcium and iron. Black eyed peas also have loads of fiber, folate, manganese and Vitamin A as well. By consuming these types of peas, you can prevent anemia, lower your blood pressure and significantly increase your skin and eye health.
Something else that Vitamin A does is help to heal your body should you have a yeast infection. Vitamin A can also strengthen your vaginal walls; think of it as being an "edible kegel".
If there's any part of you that's ever wondered where cinnamon comes from, you can thank the bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree. Another interesting fact is there are different types of cinnamon; the most popular are Ceylon cinnamon (the most potent form of it) and Cassia cinnamon (the kind that you typically see in the seasoning section of your local grocery store). As far as what it can do for your health, cinnamon contains a ton of manganese and a fair amount of calcium, iron and Vitamin K. Cinnamon is high in antioxidants, relieves body inflammation, protects your heart, stabilizes your blood sugar levels and contains antimicrobial, antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral properties that fight infections and viruses in your system.
As if that isn't enough, because it is an alkaline spice, cinnamon has the ability to neutralize the acid in your vagina which will make your vaginal fluids taste less acidic (the same goes for fellas who eat it). Another fun fact is, if you mix a few drops of cinnamon oil with some sweet almond oil, you'll have a delicious massage oil that is both sweet and a little hot on your taste buds. Yep. Cinnamon is one of the best things for your vagina—both in oil and powder form. Enjoy!
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
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Featured image by Shutterstock.
Originally published on July 17, 2019
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic’, though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let’s do first things first — let’s define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of “What does platonic mean?”, the first thing that you’re (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of “of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex” (Merriam-Webster), “designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity” (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, “purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes” (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I’ll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word “platonic” actually come from? From what I’ve researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled “Symposium.” In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire; one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: “Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry.” A write-up on Merriam-Webster’s site stated that, “The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships.” Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that’s another article for another time, though (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”).
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word “platonic” is kind of used in “broad strokes” these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be “just friends,” I’m going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I’m pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally, even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I’ll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He’s super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often and some have told us that they assume that we’ve had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: “I told him, ‘He’s my brother. We would never mess around.'”
My Friend: “Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it.”
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: “Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives.” (That reminds me: check out, “Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?” when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: “Girl, yeah. If I didn’t want to keep you in my life long-term, I would’ve tried to holla a long time ago!” And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these “for real?!” exchanges is, even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a “dormant seed” lying around somewhere…whether it’s one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life, we’ve had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren’t exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you’re not sure about “his”…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you’ve got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you’ve never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he’s someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it’s one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who’s been together for more than five years and I’ll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out “Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?”).
Yeah, just because you’ve filed someone in the “I see him as a good guy” category, that doesn’t automatically mean that y’all’s friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don’t get it twisted — I’ve considered him because, on so many levels, we “fit.” So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are “good friends” yet it’s not exactly platonic.
I’m not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would’ve been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn’t make you want to throw up in your mouth, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there’s a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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