Cranberry is protective against urinary tract infections

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A recent Cochrane review of over 10 clinical trials published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has concluded that cranberry may be protective against urinary tract infections (UTI), writes naturopath Jennifer McLennan.

The authors found that cranberry juice may have a preventive role to play in UTI in some people. Cranberries play an anti-bacterial role in the urinary tract, lasting for approximately 8 hours, so drinking juice regularly may assist in maintaining this anti-bacterial coverage.

Cranberry is protective against urinary tract infections

How cranberries help

The exact anti-bacterial mechanism in cranberries is unknown but may be due to the plant chemicals, proanthocyanidins.

UTIs occur when unwanted bacteria and sometimes yeast (fungi) get into the urinary tract and begin to multiply. Bacteria such as the common E coli can adhere to cells lining the urinary tract via small “hairs” on their surface called fimbriae.
Proanthocyanidins are thought to target these fimbriae by:

• Disarming the gene in the micro-organisms which make the fimbriae which bacteria need to attach
• Preventing the fimbriae from adhering to the cells lining the urinary tract

An added benefit

The authors also suggested that an important effect of drinking cranberry juice may be hydration, keeping the urinary tract contents more diluted and flushed out.

How much should you drink?

For women who suffer from UTI it is suggested that 1-2 glasses of cranberry juice per day is needed from 4-8 weeks for a preventative effect, but faster effects may occur when taking cranberry as concentrated tablets or capsules.

Antioxidants: another reason to drink cranberry

Another benefit of cranberry juice is the high yield of antioxidants which are naturally occurring in the fruit.

Antioxidants are the new catch phrase among those on the quest for better health, and cranberries are no disappointment.

In vitro studies demonstrated cranberry fruit had free radical scavenging prosperities equal to, and even greater than those demonstrated for vitamin E. Other studies also showed that cranberry juice caused a greater increase in antioxidant levels in the blood after consumption when compared to an equal amount of vitamin C.

Cranberry is protective against urinary tract infections

Tips for preventing UTI:

• Drink plenty of water every day
• Washing yourself before sex. Try and get your partner to do the same.
• Urinate immediately after sex to flush out any micro-organisms that shouldn’t be there
• Wear cotton underwear
• Wipe yourself from front to back after going to the toilet
• Avoid deodorants and fragrant products, and avoid bubble baths as this may cause further irritation to the genitourinary area
• Take a probiotic with Lactobacilli to help with supplying the genitourinary tract with the good bugs. For more on this, go to the article: Probiotics for urinary health.

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