Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are painful, disruptive and all too common. More than half of adult women have had a UTI, and many have several a year. It happens when bacteria travel into the urethra, the duct through which urine passes; women are more susceptible because the urethra is shorter than in men, but guys can get them too. Left untreated, UTIs can have serious complications, including recurrent infections, urethral narrowing, and kidney damage. While UTIs may not be completely avoidable, dietary choices can reduce your risk. Focus on anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and immune-boosting meals, drink plenty of water and try these six foods and supplements to help ward of bacteria and protect your insides.
Vitamin C helps make the urine more acidic and hampers the growth of bacteria that cause UTIs. In one study of pregnant women, those who took vitamin C had a significantly lower risk of developing a UTI. And Vitamin C boosts immune function overall, helping the body’s resistance to infection. Foods high in Vitamin C are broccoli, bell peppers, leafy greens, strawberries, Brussels sprouts and oranges.
D-Mannose is a supplement that coats bacteria, preventing them from adhering to the walls of the bladder and urinary tract. According to an article in Vitamin Research News, D-Mannose can eliminate 90 percent of all UTIs.
Cinnamon has long been used for its antibacterial properties; it’s rich in compounds that reduce inflammation and hamper the growth of bacteria and other pathogens. Some studies show cinnamon compounds prevent the colonization of E. coli, the bacteria that’s responsible for most UTIs, in the bladder and urethra, and because it’s an anti-inflammatory, it may also ease some of the discomfort associated with UTIs.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that may help prevent UTIs by keeping harmful bacteria from growing in the vagina, where they can migrate to the urinary tract and cause infections. Studies suggest probiotics help protect against UTIs and prevent their reoccurrence. Probiotics have also been shown to support the immune system’s ability to fight infection. Food sources of probiotics are kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Rather take a pill? Try Garden of Life’s Urinary Tract+ probiotic. This Dr. Perlmutter (author of Grain Brain) formulated probiotic has 16 probiotic strains geared towards urinary and digestive health plus 500mg of organic Pacran cranberry, the clinically studied amount in gold standard human trials.
Garlic is high in allicin and other compounds that have antibacterial and antimicrobial activities and enhance immune function. It has been shown to protect against a variety of bacteria, including E. coli, and studies suggest it can be an effective treatment for recurring UTIs. In one study, garlic extract had more antibacterial activity against UTI pathogens than commonly used drugs. Because allicin is easily damaged by heat, raw garlic is the most effective.
Cranberry Juice may help prevent UTIs by keeping bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract. Though research is mixed, many studies show cranberry juice can decrease the recurrence of UTIs. A recent meta-analysis of seven clinical trials in healthy women found cranberry reduced the risk of developing a UTI by 26 percent. Because most cranberry juice drinks are loaded with sugar, stick to cranberry concentrates and mix them with water.
Source: Clean Eating, July/August 2019; Vitamin Research News, 2003.