Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | July 22, 2009
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Preventing yeast infections - Response to reader


Dear Ms Brown,

I have this recurring yeast infection and I have read somewhere that diet can affect the condition. Do you have any suggestions on a diet plan that could help relieve this condition. Thanks a lot.

Dear reader,

I assume you are referring to the very common condition, vaginal yeast infection which is experienced by many women. Vaginal thrush or monilia as it is commonly called results from an overgrowth of one of the species of fungus called Candida albicans. This fungus is normally present in small amounts in the vagina, mouth, digestive tract, and on the skin.

The overgrowth of Candida albicans seems to occur when the balance in normal microorganisms in the vagina is disturbed.

Protective bacteria

The most frequent symptoms include itching, burning, irritation of the vagina, pain with urination, pain with intercourse, and many times a thick curd-like white discharge. You mentioned that you are plagued with recurring yeast infections; this may follow a course of antibiotics (particularly tetracycline) as the antibiotics change the normal balance of organisms in the vagina by suppressing the growth of protective lactobacillus bacteria. Some medical conditions such as diabetes and those where the immune system is compromised such as HIV/AIDS can also increase your risk. A recent study has suggested that sexual behaviour (especially oral-genital contact) can contribute to recurrent yeast infections.

Some non-dietary measures to decrease the risk of developing a vaginal yeast infection include avoiding the use of douches, scented hygiene products like bubble bath, sprays, pads and tampons and changing tampons and pads often during the menstrual cycle. Women should also avoid wearing tight underwear or clothes made of synthetic fibres and wear instead cotton underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch. Women should change wet swimsuits and exercise clothes as soon as possible.

There is quite a bit of complementary and alternative approaches to treatment, but I cannot say they work with certainty. These are suggestions based on individual cases.

I wish you relief from your condition.

Rosalee M. Brown is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who operates Integrated Nutrition and Health Services; email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com.

Lifestyle/diet tips

You must reduce the above mentioned risk factors.

If you are overweight, reducing weight seem to work for many individuals.

Reduce a high carbohydrate diet.

Avoid excess refine carbohydrate (sugars, juices, pastries, etc) and instead consume more unrefined carbohydrate such as wholegrains, starchy roots, and fruits in small amounts.

Consume plain unflavoured yoghurt.

Take lactobacillus. acidophilus supplement.


Employ relaxation techniques to help deal with stress.

Ensure that your diet is nutritionally adequate and mostly plant based.

Unflavoured yoghurt may be useful in managing yeast infections.

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