More than 50% of women will develop a UTI (urinary tract infection) at some point: they’re 10 times more common in women than men, and are a recurring problem for 1 in 5 of us. Antibiotics are frequently prescribed to prevent and treat them. However, experts warn that antibiotic resistance could cause UTIs to become untreatable. We’re increasingly turning to natural alternatives, but do they work?
What is a UTI?
A UTI occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract and begin to multiply, resulting in frequent urges to urinate and burning pain on urination. Other symptoms include lower abdominal aches and pains, cloudy urine and blood in the urine. Most urinary infections begin when bacteria found in the intestinal tract (typically E. coli) finds its way into the urethra. In some cases, infection progresses to the bladder (causing cystitis), or the kidneys.
Certain compounds found in cranberries can change the structure of certain bacteria, making it more difficult for them to stick to the walls of the urinary system – and easier for the body to flush them out. A review of 13 studies concluded that people who use cranberry products daily are 38% less likely to develop a UTI. Capsules seem to be more effective than supermarket juice drinks.
D-mannose is a naturally occurring sugar found in cranberries. It ‘sticks’ to E. coli bacteria, forming a coating which, in turn, prevents them from sticking to the walls of the urinary organs.
Cranberries are a rich source of Vitamin C which may support the prevention and treatment of UTIs by making the urine more acidic. This encourages the formation of nitrogen oxides, which are toxic to a variety of microorganisms, including E. coli. Vitamin C supplements have been found to reduce the risk of developing a UTI during pregnancy. Pregnant women are more prone to UTIs because the weight of the uterus and the hormone progesterone slow the drainage of urine, giving bacteria more time to multiply.
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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.