Veg-Edge vs. STDs, Infertility & Cervical Cancer
August 09, 2004
Promotion of sexual health goes hand in hand with the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and prevention is primarily achieved through protection, education and youth-oriented abstinence efforts.This focus makes sense given that an overwhelming majority of STD sufferers become infected before the age of 25 — and that 25% of all new infections occur among teens.But while most sexual health campaigns focus on modifying sexual activity, per se, very little is said about the role of diet in reducing the frequency and severity of STD outbreaks.When you consider that lowered resistance can trigger attacks of certain STDs, like genital herpes, it makes sense that immune-boosting foods might also help protect against viral eruptions as well.

Now comes new research suggesting that eating veggies such as broccoli might halt herpes flare-ups.A study done at the Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine found indole-3-carbinol, a compound found in cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage, kept the herpes virus in hibernation during lab experiments (clinical studies would be needed to confirm the in vivo benefit for humans).

Lysine is another compound that may inhibit herpes viral activity.Soybeans, cooked and raw, are a super source of lysine — lima beans are also loaded.Conversely, herpes replication may be supported by the amino acid arginine, found abundantly in beef and peanuts.Keep the connection in mind next time you’re ordering during halftime.

While more than a million people acquire herpes annually, five times that number will become infected with human papilloma virus (HPV).Once again, prevention is the key to putting a cap on such stats, but given that HPV is considered to be the most common STD in the U.S., it’s worth noting that for those already exposed to the virus, diet can make a difference.

Women who eat the most veggies are 50% less likely to have persistent HPV infections — thus reducing their risk of cervical cancer and infertility.While fruits and juices were not as protective as vegetables, lycopene-rich foods such as tomatoes and watermelon had the highest benefit.

As long as we’ve broached the subject of diet and reproductive health, please also keep in mind that low-carb diets can also significantly reduce a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant.Animal studies conducted at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine found that even a “moderately” high protein diet could prevent an embryo from attaching to the wall of the womb or hinder its early development.

Though further research will need to show that the same effect may be responsible for fertility impedance among humans, the findings suggest that women’s protein intake should be less than 20% of overall calorie consumption during efforts to conceive.Moreover, given the role of folic acid in preventing neural tube defects, Mother Earth’s bounty of folate-rich fruits and veggies — all too often scanted in low carb regimes — should be first on the menu of all mothers-to-be.