October 10, 2020 5 min read

Urinary tract infections or UTIs are among the most common bacterial infections in adults and may involve the lower or upper urinary tract or both. While men can get UTIs, they mainly occur in females. It is estimated that 50-60% of women have suffered from at least one UTI.

E. coli bacteria cause 90% of UTIs. Once these bacteria enter the urinary tract (they enter from the digestive system and into the bladder through the urethra) they latch on to cells, grow, and cause infection.

Symptoms of a UTI include frequent urination or urgency to urinate, cloudy urine that may have a foul odor, pain, pressure, or burning with urination, and fever. Soreness may be felt in the lower abdomen, in the back or in the sides. 

If the infection moves up the urethra, they may cause a bladder infection (called cystitis). Bacteria that have infected the bladder may travel to the upper urinary tract, the ureters and the kidneys. An infection of the kidneys is called pyelonephritis. Symptoms may include back pain, chills, fever, nausea and vomiting. 

UTI’s can also be caused by sexual activity, pregnancy, birth control pills, and a lack of estrogen, which can allow the bacteria that cause UTI’s to grow more easily in the vagina and urethra.

Doctors typically treat urinary tract infections with antibiotics. But you can take steps to reduce your chances of getting a UTI in the first place.

What to eat (and not eat) to beat UTIs

Treatment and prevention are the name of the game for urinary tract support. 

What you drink and eat before and during a UTI can help you get better faster and prevent future UTIs.

Let's start with what you SHOULD eat and drink:

WATER, WATER, WATER, AND more WATER!

The beverages you drink have a heavy influence on bladder health and UTI contractions. Drinking more water daily may lead to fewer episodes of recurrent cystitis and less need for antibiotics. Drinking water helps dilute your urine and ensures that you'll urinate more frequently — allowing bacteria to be flushed from your urinary tract before an infection can begin.

Cranberries, and blueberries to a lesser extent, can be quite helpful in treating and preventing urinary tract infections. They contain a compound called proanthocyanidin, which prevents E. Coli from adhering to the bladder walls. Be careful with sugar, it can exacerbate the infection, so be sure to drink natural unsweetened cranberry juice

Probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, help give your immune system a boost and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. You can get your probiotics from yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut or pickles.

Yogurt can be especially helpful in preventing a yeast infection that may occur from antibiotics used to treat a UTI. But please note, not all yogurts have active probiotics, check the label. And you should avoid sweetened yogurts.

Foods high in fiber such as oats, lentils, beans, and nuts are also helpful in naturally flushing the body of harmful bacteria. 

Vitamin C. Oranges, lemons, strawberries, tomatoes, bell pepers and green leafy vegetablesare packed with vitamin C and make urine more acidic, which helps prevent bacteria from growing in the system. A great rule for picking fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C is to choose ones that are brightly colored. Vitamin C is water soluble, so any excess is flushed from the body in your urine. Vitamin C also boosts immune function overall, helping the body’s resistance to infection.

Eat foods that are rich in antioxidants including tomatoes, squash, and bell peppers.

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. 

You can easily add it to your diet. For example, you can combine cinnamon sticks, sliced ginger, cardamom pods and vanilla bean in a pot of water, simmer for 10 minutes and strain for caffeine-free chai. You can also mix ground cinnamon into raw honey and coconut oil and use instead of butter on pancakes or toast.

Don't drink coffee, alcohol or caffeine until the infection is gone. These drinks can irritate your bladder. Try a mug of non-caffeinated herbal tea to replace your morning coffee (or the cinnamon recipe I just mentioned) until you are UTI-free.

Don't eat spicy food as it can also irritate your bladder and kidneys.

Avoid sugary foods and artificial sweeteners. Remember, sugar is food for those bad bacteria. 

D-MANNOSE FOR UTIS? BIG YES!

D-mannose is a natural molecule found in cranberries, apples, and some other fruits. It has been shown to have cleaning properties that help keep the bladder walls clean and it also helps support overall bladder health.

D-mannose works by helping prevent unwanted material from adhering to bladder walls. It specifically attracts only the impurities, helping the body to naturally eliminate the root problem.

You can get your D-mannose in supplement form.

Hibiscus and Dandelion are also potent natural ingredients that help prevent and fight UTIs. Hibiscus is a powerful antioxidant, rich in polyphenols. It helps acidify the urine and cleanse the bladder walls, while the dandelion is a strong natural diuretic and detoxifier that also helps flush the system. 

UTI prevention

You can usually prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI) with lifestyle changes. These tips can include:
  • Practicing good hygiene: You can often prevent UTIs by practicing good personal hygiene. This is especially important for women. Because the urethra in women is much shorter than it is in men, it’s easier for E. coli bacteria to move from the rectum back into the body. To avoid this, it’s recommended that you always wipe from front to back after a bowel movement. Women should also use good hygiene practices during their menstrual cycle to avoid infections. Changing pads and tampons frequently, as well as not using feminine deodorants can also help prevent UTIs.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids: Adding extra fluids, especially water, to your daily routine can help remove extra bacteria from your urinary tract. Drinking six to eight glasses of water per day is recommended.
  • Changing your urination habits: Urination can play a big role in getting rid of bacteria from the body. Your urine is a waste product and each time you empty your bladder, you’re removing that waste from your body. Urinating frequently can reduce your risk of developing an infection, especially if you have a history of frequent UTIs. Drinking plenty of fluids will encourage this. You should also try to urinate immediately before and after sex. This could help flush out any bacteria that may have been introduced during intercourse. 
  • Changing your birth control: Some women have an increased risk of developing a UTI if they use a diaphragm or unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms for birth control. Talk to your healthcare provider about other options for birth control.
  • Taking D-mannose: D-Mannose is also a prebiotic that acts as a fertilizer for maintaining a balanced environment in the gut. It  complements the body's natural cleansing process and supports normal urinary tract function. 

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