Cranberry Juice and UTI

Cranberry Juice and UTI

Studies have suggested that drinking cranberry juice can lower the risk of urinary tract infections. This Buzzle write-up provides information on the ways in which cranberry juice helps prevent UTI.
Cranberries In Bowls
The urinary system of the human body comprises the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and the urethra. The kidneys perform the function of filtering blood, and removing excess water, salts, and toxins from the body in the form of urine. The ureters are tubes that carry urine produced by the kidneys to the bladder. Urine is passed out from the urethra, a duct located at the bottom of the bladder. Due to the proximity of the urethra to the anus, there is a risk of bacteria entering the urinary tract through the urethra. These can travel from the urethra to the bladder. Bacteria can multiply within the urinary tract, giving rise to an infection. Due to the short size of urethra, women are more likely to develop urinary tract infections than men. Also, individuals affected by kidney stones or any condition that causes incomplete emptying of the bladder puts one at a greater risk of developing a UTI. More often than not, Escherichia coli is the causal bacterium for infections of the urinary tract, and it binds to the lining of the urinary tract through its hairlike projections called fimbriae.

Studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice can help prevent UTI. Cranberry contains certain compounds that bring about a change in the pH of the urine. The following sections explain how the consumption of this fruit or juice extracted from it helps prevent such infections.

How Does Cranberry Juice Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

Increases Acidity of Urine
Cranberries contain citric acid, ascorbic acid, benzoic acid, quinic acid, malic acid, and ellagic acid. Thus, cranberry juice is acidic in nature. Drinking this juice helps increase the acidity of the blood and urine. Bacteria, especially E. coli, need an alkaline environment for growth and development. They find it impossible to survive under acidic conditions. With the increase in the acidity of urine, bacteria present in the bladder are not able to stick to the walls of the bladder. This lowers the risk of an infection.

Modifies Bacterial Cells
Proanthocyanidins are phytochemicals that are present in cranberries. These chemicals prevent Escherichia coli bacteria from binding themselves to the lining of the urinary tract. This lowers the risk of infection.

Interrupts Communication Among Bacterial Cells
Bacterial cells communicate among themselves through a process called quorum sensing. They secrete a chemical known as indole. This chemical facilitates the reception of cellular signals by cell membranes. Cranberry inhibits the secretion of indole, making it impossible for bacteria to cause an infection.

Creates an Energy Barrier Between Bacteria and Urinary Tract
It is believed that proanthocyanidins create an energy barrier between the bacterial cells and the urinary tract of your body. The actual reason is not yet known. This prohibits the bacteria from attaching to the walls of urinary tract. Again, due to this reason, the bacteria are not able to cause an infection.

Preventive Measures for UTI

You can either drink pure cranberry juice or a juice containing a mixture of cranberry and other fruits. In the latter case, make sure that the juice consists of at least 30% of cranberry.

Drink 3-4 glasses (9 oz.) of cranberry juice on a daily basis. Do it for a couple of months to bring effective interruption of proanthocyanidins in bacterial communication.

You should drink plenty of water as well. This will help the body flush out toxins through urine and perspiration.

Drinking cranberry juice on a regular basis for a few months will certainly help prevent the occurrence of urinary tract infections in the future. Also, wipe from front to back after urination and defecation to prevent bacteria from entering the urethra.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.