Outside of your yearly exam, you probably don’t think about your cervical health very often. But like every single part of your body, your cervix is made of cells, and they need to stay healthy to keep everything running smoothly.
The good news: you still don’t have to think about your cervix every day. Turn these five nutrition tips into daily habits to make taking care of your cervical health a no-brainer.
1. Focus on Vitamins for a Healthy Cervix
A healthy diet rich in antioxidants can help maintain a healthy cervix. For overall health, a balanced diet is essential to keep your body in tip-top shape, but a few specific nutrients can help promote cervical health. Vitamins with high antioxidant power like vitamins E, A, and C help keep your cells and cervix healthy. Healthy levels of B vitamins, especially folate and B12, may also help support a healthy cervix.
Find out how to include more of these nutrients in your daily diet:
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in plant oils, nuts, seeds, and some fruits and vegetables. Sunflower seeds, wheat germ oil, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, and broccoli are all great sources.
Research shows that this antioxidant vitamin may help maintain a healthy cervix. Studies suggest that tocopherols found in dietary vitamin E food sources may have a beneficial effect on cervical health.
There are two forms of vitamin A:
- Preformed vitamin A (retinol). This is the active form of vitamin A and is found in animal products like dairy, fish, and meat.
- Provitamin A carotenoids (beta-carotene). Beta-carotene is a yellow-orange plant pigment that is converted to the active form of vitamin A in the body. Carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, spinach, kale, and squash are all rich sources of beta-carotene.
Just because animal products have the active form of vitamin A doesn’t mean they’re better. Never underestimate the power of plants! Choose plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, especially those with bright yellow and orange hues – that’s a clue that they’re packed with beta-carotene.
Research suggests that women who eat antioxidant-rich foods with beta-carotene, such as papaya and sweet potatoes, may have healthier cells in the cervix.
Vitamin C isn’t just for cold and flu season – including vitamin C-rich foods daily can help support cervical health. The list of vitamin C foods is seemingly endless, but you’ll find mangoes, bell peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi, and strawberries near the top.
Folate (vitamin B9) and vitamin B12 both play a crucial role in supporting cervical health. Studies show that folate and Vitamin B12 may help support healthy cervical cells due to their role in DNA repair and synthesis.
Include leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and peanuts for a healthy dose of folate. Vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal products, like meat, fish, and dairy products. Some plant-based foods, such as breakfast cereals or nutritional yeast, are fortified with vitamin B12.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you may consider adding a vitamin B12 supplement to your daily routine if you’re unable to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet.
Healthy levels of vitamin B6 may also be important for a healthy cervix. This vitamin is widely available in food and supports healthy immune function. It contributes to enzymatic reactions in the body, and many of these relate to protein metabolism and keeping cells healthy. Chickpeas, chicken breast, and salmon are rich sources of this vitamin.
2. Brew Up Some Green Tea
Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, second only to water. Both black tea and green tea are rich in polyphenols, which are plant compounds packed with antioxidant power to keep your cells healthy. Green tea is particularly high in epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a nutrient that may give it a leg up when it comes to cervical health. EGCG has also been linked to many other health benefits, including heart health and healthy blood sugar levels. Whether you prefer iced or hot tea, choose green tea since the leaves are processed in ways that preserve their EGCG content.
3. Crunch on Some Cruciferous Vegetables
Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, arugula, cabbage, Bok choy – these are all examples of cruciferous vegetables that bring strong flavors and major benefits to the table. Most cruciferous vegetables are also loaded with folate, one of the key vitamins for cervical health, and packed with fiber to keep you feeling full. Cruciferous vegetables are also rich in powerful phytonutrients, including indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Research shows that this phytonutrient may promote cervical health.
4. Aim for a Healthy Weight
The number on the scale isn’t the only (or even most important) indicator of your health. However, cervical screening methods may be more effective for women at a healthy weight.
If weight loss is one of your goals, check out these diet and lifestyle tips to help you achieve it.
- Try plate method. This is an easy, visual way to make sure your meals are balanced and satisfying. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one quarter of your plate with a lean protein, and the last quarter of your plate with a whole grain or starchy vegetable.
- Stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle on hand and refill it throughout the day.
- Practice joyful movement. Find physical activity that you enjoy and carve out some time each day to move your body.
- Be a smart shopper. Your food choices at home start at the grocery store. Choose a new fruit and vegetable each week to increase your variety – fresh, frozen, or canned counts. If you choose canned, opt for no-salt-added vegetables and fruit canned in 100% juice. Make a few simple swaps like white bread for whole wheat bread, red meat for lean poultry or a plant-based protein like tofu, and sparkling water instead of soda.
5. Nix the Fad Diets
Juice cleanses, the ketogenic diet, Whole 30, the grapefruit diet – there will always be some new fad diet tempting you with the promise of fast and easy weight loss. The problem: they’re not sustainable. You can’t eliminate entire food groups or live under extreme calorie restriction for the rest of your life. That would be miserable – both physically and mentally. Sure, fad diets may work for a short time, but most people find that their old habits soon return, and any progress they made with a fad diet crumbles.
Focus on small, gradual changes and work towards a balanced diet rich in antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables to support a healthy cervix. There may still be bumps in your journey, but with a solid foundation, your progress is built to last.
Throw together this one-pot soup for a quick, easy, and delicious weeknight meal. Loaded with cervical health nutrients like I3C, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A, this meal is sure to keep your cells happy and healthy.
One-Dish Turkey Soup with Tomato, Chickpeas, and Kale
Makes 6 servings
- 3 tablespoons safflower oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 medium sweet red peppers, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pound ground turkey breast
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Two 15-ounce cans of reduced-sodium chick peas, rinsed and drained
- Two 15-ounce cans of no-salt-added diced tomatoes
- 32 ounces low sodium chicken broth
- 10 ounces mixed baby greens or baby kale
- Add oil to a large pot and heat over low to medium heat.
- Then, add onion and sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Next, add red peppers and saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add garlic and heat for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Break turkey into small portions and add to the mixture, and heat while stirring to break up the mixture for 10 minutes.
- Add the drained chickpeas, the tomatoes with the liquid, the chicken broth, vinegar, and the salt and pepper.
- Bring mixture to a boil, add the kale, stirring to integrate the greens for 1-2 minutes, then turn off heat and stir to combine all ingredients well before serving.
Your day-to-day diet and lifestyle habits make an impact on your cervical health. Choose plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables (especially cruciferous varieties), sip on green tea, and work on creating balanced meals that nourish your body and support a healthy weight. Taking care of yourself daily is just one piece of the puzzle – routine screenings are still important to catch any problems early. Talk with your healthcare provider to find out how often you need cervical screenings.
Don’t miss an article! Sign up for our newsletter below and we’ll let you know when our next article comes out.