A urinary tract infection (UTI) can affect any part of the urinary system. This infection can lead to urethritis (an infection of the urethra), cystitis (an infection of the bladder), or pyelonephritis (an infection of the kidney). A urinary tract makes and stores urine – one of the body’s liquid waste products.
Kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra are all parts of the urinary tract. Kidneys help to remove wastewater from the blood, which then becomes urine. The bladder helps to store urine before it leaves the body, ureters carry urine from the kidneys to your bladder, and the urethra carries the urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. But when a microorganism, such as bacteria, gets into the urinary system from outside the body, inflammation and infection may occur, leading to urinary tract infection (UTI).
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in women (it occurs in 1 out of 5 women sometime in their lifetime). Still, they can also happen to men, children (1 to 2% of children develop UTIs), and older adults. It is common in women because the tube that carries urine out of the body (urethra) in females is shorter and closer to the anus. Every year, about 8 to 10 million people visit doctors for UTIs.
Suppose you experience urinary tract infections (U.T.I.s) frequently. In that case, you might have probably been told to drink cranberry juice, saying it is effective in treating and preventing U.T.I.s. But the question thus is, can cranberry juice help people treat U.T.I.s? And again, does adding cranberry juice to your diet lessen the risk of UTIs? This article will help you separate myths from science.
Cranberry juice and UTIs
UTIs are common bacterial infections that affect most women. 50% of women, compared with 12% of men, will develop a UTI in their lifetime. In addition, up to 30% of young women have repeated UTIs, which can significantly affect their quality of life. Though antibiotics can be used, many people use natural remedies to treat and prevent UTIs. The most popular natural treatments for UTIs are perhaps cranberry juice and cranberry juice supplements. Cranberries are composed of compounds like flavonoids and phenolic acids, which may help prevent and treat UTIs. These compounds are said to;
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce the number of bacteria in “reservoirs” in the gastrointestinal tracts (GIT) and bladder that can cause UTIs.
- Obstruct the ability of bacteria to cling to the lining of the urinary tract.
- Modulate gut bacteria.
Despite all these, you may still wonder whether the juice effectively treats and prevents UTIs. Two major points answer the question;
1. Cranberry juice may help prevent UTIs in some people
Some research has proposed cranberry juice and its supplements may lessen the risk of UTIs in certain populations. Also, other studies have suggested that cranberry products (including cranberry juice) may help prevent UTIs from recurring in older adults in nursing homes and women with a history of UTIs. In addition, some findings suggest cranberry juice capsules may help reduce UTIs in women who have had gynaecological surgeries.
Factors such as immune health, metabolism, differences in gut bacteria, and genetics may influence the effectiveness of cranberry juice against the infection. In conclusion, not all studies have found cranberry treatment helpful for preventing UTIs. Scientists and researchers admit that more extensive studies are required to understand better how cranberry juice (and other cranberry products) affect urinary tract health.
2. Cranberry juice is probably not an excellent treatment for active UTIs
Even though the juice helps protect against UTI recurrence in specific sets of people, however, evidence supporting the use of cranberry juice for improving symptoms in people with active UTI is weak. It is crucial to note that there is no sufficient evidence to suggest that cranberry juice is effective at speeding recovery from active UTIs or reducing UTIs symptoms. More in-depth research is required to determine whether it may help treat active UTIs.
See a healthcare professional if you think you have UTIs. UTIs can become serious life-threatening infections.
And if you already have UTIs and get frequent UTIs, it is advisable to work with a trusted healthcare professional to come up with a treatment plan based on your specific health needs.