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Urinary tract Infections: Dietary Recommendations

 

In all individuals who have high blood sugar such as diabetics, the frequency of UTIs is much higher. High sugar levels in the body are known to interfere with the immune system and thus lead to a proliferation of bacteria. 

Therefore, control of blood sugar is essential in the treatment and prevention of UTIs. Other chemicals also known to depress the immune system include excessive alcohol and saturated fat. Like blood sugar, alcohol intake, chocolate, eggs, oranges, carbonated beverages, meat products and red wine should be curtailed and the amount of fat eaten decreased to prevent recurrent UTIs.

To flush the bladder of the infectious bacteria, all females with a UTI are encouraged to drink fluids and empty the bladder frequently. However, coffee and alcohol should be avoided as they seem to worsen the symptoms of a UTI. To increase acidity of the urine and decrease the growth of bacteria, one should eat more vegetables. Spinach, potatoes, green beans, avocado, onion, grapes, broccoli, zucchini, yams and mustard greens are all recommended. Vegetables, overall, are good for health and also help to control the level of blood sugars.

For more than 2 decades it has been known that cranberry can prevent UTIs. Studies have shown that cranberry in the form of a liquid or as a supplement pill, are equally effective in decreasing the frequency of UTIs. Cranberry juice works by preventing the attachment of E coli (this is the most common bacteria known to cause UTIs) to the bladder and urethral wall. Cranberry juice however, is not effective once an infection has already occurred, since the bacteria are already attached to the bladder wall. Thus most doctors do not recommend cranberry juice for acute attacks; it is only recommended to prevent future/recurrent infections. Cranberry juice must be ingested daily either as liquid or a tablet to work effectively.

Like cranberry, blueberry has been reported to decrease the frequency of UTIs. However, all the reports are anecdotal and it also appears to decrease the frequency of UTIs but have no affect on an active infection. The chemicals found in both cranberries and blueberries which inhibit bacterial growth are known as the tannins. Tannins have the ability to prevent the bacteria from attaching to the vaginal and urethral lining.

There is no doubt that vitamin C supplements are good for health. Vitamin C and vitamin A have both been touted as a cure for UTI. Some recommend mega doses of vitamins daily to prevent UTI. To date, there is no evidence to show that vitamins can prevent or cure UTIs. Some proteolytic enzymes such as bromelain (from pineapples) and trypsin have been shown to act synergistically with antibiotics to rapidly cure UTIs. However, these products are very labile (get destroyed by the high acidity in the stomach) and thus do not get absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Coated versions of these enzymes are available and have to be taken with antibiotics or other treatments for UTIs.

 

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Greg Cryns
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