Anti-UTI Diet Plan For Preventing Recurrent UTIs
Preventing recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) is surprisingly easy with an anti-UTI diet that draws on the power of foods with anti-bacterial and other UTI-fighting properties. This section of HealWithFood.org's Guide to UTI Prevention outlines the 5 cornerstones of a good anti-UTI diet.
Note: the information provided below does not constitute a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.
#1: Drink Plenty of Water
One of the most important measures to prevent recurrent UTIs is to drink plenty of water. The risk of getting a urinary tract infection has been shown be directly affected by fluid intake. An adequate consumption of water can also aid in the treatment of an established UTI by diluting the bacteria in the urine. Most experts recommend drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day.
#2: Consume Foods That Contain Probiotic Bacteria
Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum (or L. acidophilus and bifidum, for short) are so-called probiotic bacteria which live in the gastrointestinal tract where they aid digestion and fight the overgrowth of disease-causing bacteria. Some studies have also associated the presence of probiotic bacteria in the body with a reduced risk of UTIs. Finnish researchers found that women who had fermented dairy products containing probiotic bacteria three times a week were about 80 percent less likely to have a recurring UTI than those who ate these foods less than once a week. In addition to yoghurt and other fermented dairy products containing probiotic bacteria, miso and tempeh provide a good dietary source probiotics. Increasing your intake of these beneficial bacteria is particularly important if you have recently been taking antibiotics for a UTI as antibiotics are known to destroy probiotic bacteria in the intestines.
#3: Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin A or Beta-Carotene
Another important component of the anti-UTI diet is vitamin A which is known to promote healthy surface linings of the respiratory, intestinal, and urinary tracts. In one study, 12 patients with recurrent UTIs received vitamin A supplementation in addition to antimicrobial treatment. The control group, also consisting of 12 patients, received a placebo. During the first 6 months of the study, the infection rate (per 6 months) of the group who received the vitamin A supplement dropped from 3.6 to 0.8, while the infection rate in the control group stayed at 2.8. Fruits and vegetables that contain beta-carotene provide an important source of vitamin A as beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A in the body. Note, however, that some people have a genetic variation that may hinder beta-carotene conversion in their bodies.
#4: Up Your Flavonol Intake
Research suggests that a high intake of flavonols, particularly epicatechin, can help prevent recurrent urinary tract infections. Flavonols are a sub-group of flavonoids, health-promoting compounds found in plants. Although many fruits such as apples and plums are a good source of flavonols, berries and berry juices have a much higher flavonol content. Cranberry and cranberry-lingonberry juices and products, which are considered some of the best foods for preventing UTIs, seem to be particularly effective at preventing recurrent UTIs. However, the exact mechanisms by which flavonols and berries help fight UTIs are not known. One hypothesis suggests that flavonols are able to prevent bacteria from attaching to the cells in the bladder, and consequently the bacteria get flushed out with the urine.
#5: Avoid Irritating Foods
If you have an infected urinary tract, it is wise to avoid bladder irritants such as citrus fruit, spicy foods, tomatoes, aged cheeses, chocolate, and caffeine. Also foods and drinks containing artificial sweeteners such as aspartame should be avoided. These foods and substances may only worsen your symptoms and aggravate the frequent urge to urinate.