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!
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Featured image by Shutterstock.
Originally published on July 17, 2019
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
Featured image by LumiNola/Getty Images