Urinary tract infections, or UTI’s, are most commonly seen as an infection of the urethra and bladder but if left untreated can develop into a more serious infection of the kidneys. They are caused by germs, usually the bacteria E. Coli from the digestive system, entering the urinary tract through the urethra and spreading to the bladder. Because women have shorter urethras, they are more susceptible to urinary tract infections than men.
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. Urinary tract infections may become a chronic problem, as bacteria from a previous infection may remain hidden in the folds of the bladder wall and lead to future infections. UTI’s can also be caused by sexual activity, pregnancy, birth control pills, and a lack of estrogen, which can allow the bacteria that causes UTI’s to grow more easily in the vagina and urethra.
Tips to help treat a current infection and prevent future infections:
- Drink plenty of water
- Urinate when needed, do not hold it!!
- Urinate before and after sexual activity to prevent the spread of bacteria into the urinary tract
- Avoid alcohol, coffee, caffeine, and soft drinks
- Avoid sugar
- Avoid carbohydrates
- Studies have shown that 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. However, sugar can exacerbate the infection so be sure to drink unsweetened cranberry juice and, if using dried cranberries, make sure they are also unsweetened or sweetened naturally with apple juice.
- Yogurt is another super food in the fight against the UTI. It contains probiotics, helpful bacteria, which reduce the harmful bacteria not only in the urinary tract but also throughout the body, including the digestive system and vagina. Yogurt can be especially helpful in preventing a yeast infection that may occur from antibiotics used to treat the UTI. Please note: not all yogurts have active probiotics, check the label. Also avoid sweetened yogurts because they have added sugars, instead, sweeten it yourself.
- Foods high in fiber such as oats, lentils, beans, and nuts are helpful in naturally flushing the body of harmful bacteria.
- Omega 3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation, an uncomfortable symptom of UTI’s. These can be found in cold-water fish such as salmon or in fish oil supplements.
- Foods rich in antioxidants including tomatoes, squash, and bell peppers.
- Vitamin A boosts immunity, and can be found in leafy greens, root vegetables, and peas.