Cranberries can prevent urinary tract infections in women

Credit: Rasa Kasparaviciene / Unsplash

Did you know that cranberries can help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs)?

UTIs are caused by bacteria that can stick to the walls of your bladder and cause painful symptoms.

But cranberries contain something called proanthocyanidins (PACs) that can stop the bacteria from sticking to your bladder walls.

Scientists have been studying the effectiveness of cranberry products in preventing UTIs for several decades.

This study is the fifth update of a review that was first published in 1998 and updated in 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2012.

In this study, the researchers looked at all the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or quasi‐RCTs of cranberry products compared with placebo, no specific treatment, or other interventions (such as antibiotics or probiotics) for the prevention of UTIs.

They found that out of the 50 studies they looked at (with 8,857 participants), cranberry products were effective in reducing the risk of UTIs in certain groups of people.

For example, in women with recurrent UTIs, cranberry products reduced the risk of symptomatic, culture-verified UTIs.

The same was true for children and people who were susceptible to UTIs following interventions.

However, the evidence did not support the use of cranberry products in elderly patients, patients with bladder emptying problems, or pregnant women.

The researchers also looked at the side effects of taking cranberry products.

They found that there was no difference in the number of participants who experienced gastrointestinal side effects between those taking cranberry products and those receiving placebo or no specific treatment.

Overall, this study shows that cranberry products can be an effective way to prevent UTIs in certain groups of people.

If you’re someone who gets UTIs often, it might be worth talking to your doctor about whether cranberry products could be helpful for you.

How to prevent UTIs

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common problem that can cause pain and discomfort. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent UTIs from occurring:

Drink plenty of water: Drinking water helps to flush out bacteria that may be present in your urinary tract. Aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water per day.

Urinate frequently: Try to empty your bladder regularly, at least once every few hours, to prevent bacteria from multiplying.

Practice good hygiene: Wipe from front to back after using the toilet to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the urethra. Also, wash your genital area with water and mild soap every day.

Wear loose-fitting clothing: Tight-fitting clothes, especially underwear, can trap moisture and create a breeding ground for bacteria. Opt for loose-fitting clothing made of breathable materials.

Avoid irritants: Certain products, such as scented soaps, bubble baths, and feminine hygiene products, can irritate the urethra and increase your risk of infection.

Take cranberry supplements: As mentioned earlier, cranberry products have been shown to help prevent UTIs by inhibiting the adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall. Talk to your doctor about whether cranberry supplements might be helpful for you.

Empty your bladder after sex: This can help to flush out any bacteria that may have entered the urethra during intercourse.

By following these steps, you can reduce your risk of developing a UTI and maintain good urinary tract health.

If you do experience symptoms of a UTI, such as painful urination or lower abdominal pain, be sure to see a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.

The study was published in Cochrane Reviews.

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