Are urinary tract infections preventable? And can that prevention come from foods in our kitchen that we would gladly eat anyway?
It appears the answer in large part is yes. And that prevention may come in the form or good bacteria and fruit.
How Important is Bacteria to Us? Why Should We Pay Attention?
To begin with, you can just look at the sheer numbers. It has been previously estimated that the bacteria that live in and on our bodies outnumber our own cells by a factor of 10:1. Some have recently revised that number downward to an even 1:1 ratio in recent years, but the point has been made.
That’s a huge number and their presence/importance/impact cannot and should not be ignored. When out of balance, we can easily see their effects in the forms of fungal conditions, urinary tract infections, immune health, and some scientists even believe cancer is a fungal issue.
Most interesting, however, might be the unseen ways in which bacteria operate and impact us.
For example, science has established the presence of a gut-brain connection that includes the bacteria residing in our gut. It has been found that these bacteria send their own signals to our brains via special pathways, causing our brains to respond in kind and send directions back to our bodies.
One example of this has to do with harmful bacteria’s desire for sugary fuel. The harmful bacteria use these pathways to send signals to the brain, which then causes us to desire either sugar-laden or simple carbohydrate foods that are quickly broken down into sugar. When we eat these foods, we feed the bacteria, and a bad cycle can ensue until we regain control of it.
The good news is, we can.
Beyond the Gut
Bacteria, however, do not just reside in the gut. They are found in huge numbers on our skin, consuming dead skin cells, and even in our urinary tracts, which brings us to the focus of today’s article.
Do Probiotics Impact Urinary Tract Health
It sure seems as if the answer is a resounding yes. Take a look at the results of this study.
Found in the March 2003 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers conducted a survey via questionnaire comparing women who had experienced urinary tract infections (UTI) against those who had not.
They surveyed the dietary habits of 139 women with a mean age of 30.5 years who had experienced a urinary tract infections within the last five years and 185 women of the same age who had not.
The results found regarding probiotic consumption were head-turning.
They found that the odds of contracting a urinary tract infection of those in the study who consumed fermented milk products at least 3 times per week were only 21 out of 100 compared to those who consumed a fermented milk product only once per week.
What About Fruit Juices?
This, on the surface, seems a little tricky.
Fruits are high in natural sugars, much of which is countered by fiber when eaten in its whole form.
Fruit juice, on the other hand, is often very high in sugars as there is no fiber to counter.
Given the fact that harmful bacteria typically love sugar and good bacteria seem to thrive on fiber, this would seem to be a bad equation, at least in terms of urinary tract infections.
But is it?
The study found some very interesting results here.
The researchers found that those who reported daily consumption of fresh juice had odds of just 66 out of 100 to contract a urinary tract infection compared to those who did not.
It is not totally clear what this is due to as the category of “fresh juice” is very broad and can include all sorts of different fruit juices. However, that can also be very encouraging if it points to a vast ability of healthy fruits and/or their juices to combat ailments in myriad ways that we may not understand yet.
Again, though, we do not know precisely what it is in this case.
Is there an ideal fruit to prevent urinary tract infections?
What if we could drill down to a specific fruit or group of fruits that outperformed the basket of “fresh juice” mentioned earlier?
It makes sense to turn to the berry family, as cranberry juice is already a popular remedy for urinary tract infections.
But getting beyond so-called “folk wisdom”, what do the results of this study say?
The study says that berries do exceptionally well, at least in terms of prevention.
Based on the study participants’ responses, those who preferred fresh berry juices over the “basket” of fresh juices had odds of just 28 out of 100 of contracting a urinary tract infection, compared to 66 out of 100 for the fresh juice group.
That is a significant boost in the favor of those who consumed berry juices and very encouraging for those of us who use the results of these studies to formulate our ultimate dietary plans.
Studies like this, while showing more correlation than causation, do a great job of reinforcing and exhibiting the truth of the old saying “you are what you eat”.
Don’t let anyone tell you that what you eat does not impact your health, nor what you’re made of.
Our bodies literally use the raw materials from the foods we eat to build our cells, so there is no doubt about this concept anymore. Any way you can turn the ratio of good food elements to bad in your favor, the better off your overall chances are.
This is one of the many reasons I personally believe in superfood products as an add-on to our daily diets. They are a great way to infuse our bodies with tons of beneficial nutrients, minerals, phytonutrients, flavonoids and more.
As we see from the results of the “fresh juice” group above, sometimes we don’t even know why these healthy, natural foods help us. But sometimes they just do, even when we are not targeting a particular food to deal with a specific ailment.
But, with more knowledge comes more power. When it comes to urinary tract infections, it seems that fruits are good, but berries specifically really turn things up a notch.
Here’s to your health!
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