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My Vaginal Health Was Out Of Wack Until I Made This Change To My Diet

I had to say goodbye to sugar and as someone who is pretty addicted to the addictive substance, it was hard, but what is helping me is...

Women's Health

Here I go talking about vaginas again…


But I love my vagina.

It's one of the ways I feel tapped into my feminine power as a woman and I appreciate it for what it is able to do and what it is made to do. However, for most of my adult life, I've struggled with maintaining the overall health of my vagina, beginning with bouts of bacterial vaginosis, or BV, that would occur roughly twice a year. I'd be prescribed antibiotics for seven days, followed by a 24-hour tablet to treat the yeast infection that followed because of the harsh antibiotic regimen, and I'd be healthy for about six months and then it would start all over again.

I always heard from my doctor at the time that BV was very common among sexually active women--and it is. Prevalence of BV cases amongst women between the ages of 15 and 49 is said to be around 21.2 million per year. What exactly is BV? Bacterial vaginosis is an infection that can be a result of sexual activity but is not sexually transmitted. In fact, this form of infection is often caused by the naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina becoming unbalanced in some sort of way, creating symptoms like abnormal odor, itching, burning, or discharge. About 84% of women experience no symptoms at all.

Within the last year or so, I realized that my recurring BV was becoming even more common, and I could not for the life of me understand why I had to lie on the examination table with my legs up, patiently awaiting that speculum over and over again. It seemed like everything disrupted my pH balance: soap, sex, periods – everything. It was embarrassing and it made my excitement for sex dampen just a little. In its last appearance, I decided to get a second opinion, because I felt that pumping my body full of antibiotics and depleting my vagina of its good and bad bacteria to the point of a yeast infection was not a good move and would be an even worse move if I developed a resistance towards the medication.

I decided to look up a holistic gynecologist center in Atlanta and see if they had any opinions on the matter. My doctor there had one: cut the sugar. It surprised me that I had never heard that suggestion before by my previous doctor, especially after the initial visit stemmed into several visits intended to clear up my recurring infections. Sugar was the culprit.

It promoted bad bacteria while disabling my body's ability to ward off bacteria from entering my vagina. This is also why my pH balance was always out of whack and whenever it would become unbalanced, my body could not work to stabilize it. Thus, hello disruption of my normal flora and hello bacterial vaginosis.

My doctor gave me a list of suggested foods to help bring my vagina back to a state of happiness.

Here is an example of the low to no sugar grocery list I try to abide by when stocking up every couple of weeks:

Some of these items are mainstays and are always in my pantry or in my freezer to have on hand, but when I grocery shop for myself, I typically go with the two protein/veggies/fruit, eggs, Greek yogurt, and granola rule. It's a great way to keep my budget in check and I can mix, match and add variety to what I keep on hand to cook at home.

In addition to eliminating sugar, I was told to add a probiotic to my daily supplement intake (kind of pricey, but so awesome). I had to say goodbye to sugar and as someone who is pretty addicted to the addictive substance, it was hard, but what is helping me is getting rid of it slowly. I have a pretty toxic relationship with sodas, but I do my best to get my sweet tooth fix in other ways, for example with fruit. When you're used to living a life on the go and grabbing whatever's easiest to eat, on top of drinking caffeine as a means to counteract your lack of sleep, a difference in diet can be a soft shock. However, I'm loving the more awake I feel throughout the day and how healthy and happy my vagina has been these past few months. No harsh meds necessary.

Keeping that grocery list in mind, below are some easy, simple dishes that are quick, healthy, and most of all: low on sugar.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for beginners, you ain't even know…

Yogurt Breakfast Bowl

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One of my favorite ways to start the day is with a filling breakfast and I've found that one of the best ways to do that is with a yogurt bowl. I love yogurt bowls because the added ingredients counteract the tartness of Greek yogurt. And yes, in order to get the full breadth of its benefits, you must go with Greek - plain Greek to be exact. It might be very tempting to gravitate towards Chobani brands of yogurt where the fruit and its syrup is already in the container or the Yoplait fruit flavored varieties, but those psuedo healthy options are chock full of added sugar, diminishing much of the health benefits of eating yogurt. So if you're going to start your day off with yogurt, do it right and go plain Greek. Get your sweetness from the fruits you decide to add.

Avocado & Strawberry Arugula Salad w/ Poppyseed Dressing

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Salad dressing is typically a very unhealthy way to consume a very healthy eating alternative. It usually has a lot of fat and sugar and for that reason, I typically stray away from the ones on the aisles and either do a balsamic vinegar or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. For a recipe like this, however, poppyseed dressing is usually my dressing of choice. Most poppyseed dressings can contain as much as 1/3 cup of sugar, if not more. So I tend to go this route when dressing my fruit salad. If being a mixtress in the kitchen with your dressing isn't your thing, find a dressing at your market and compare labels to pick the lesser sugar demon.

Spaghetti Carbonara

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After a long day at work, I'm hardly the person who wants to cook an elaborate meal. Spaghetti carbonara is one of my go-to meals because it's quick and easy. White pasta has more sugar than whole wheat pasta due to its refinement process, so if you're trying to get even more health points, reach for whole wheat in the pasta aisle for this recipe.

What are some of your favorite holistic ways to keep your body in check? And which of these recipes do you want to give a try? Share below!

Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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