A UTI prevention diet alters certain processes in your body contributing to your bladder health. So if you needed more reasons to switch gears in 2018 and eat healthier, here is one more: you can improve your chances to stay UTI-free by making adjustments in your menu. And if you are fighting off a UTI then definitely take a note of the products that are good for your bladder.
#1 secret of UTI prevention diet: pH matters
Let’s face it: we are living in the “post-antibiotic” era when antibiotics prove to be less effective to cure infections due to bacteria becoming more resistant to the drugs. Instead of figuring out how else we can kill E. coli researchers are now trying to reverse-engineer why certain people seem to be in a cycle of repeated UTI infections while others never suffer from them.
There are couple studies out there (for example this one and this one) that analyzed and compared the urine of healthy people and urine of those who had repeated UTIs. Scientists also introduced E. coli into the samples of the healthy folks and saw that the bacteria was growing slower in the urine of healthy individuals when compared to the urine of the chronic UTI sufferers.
After looking at all possible factors the researchers have found that urine pH was a major contributing factor defining if the bacteria will thrive in a bladder or remains dormant.
High pH levels are responsible for promoting a beneficial environment in your bladder, while low pH helps pathogenic bacteria to grow faster.
Your diet is directly impacting your urine pH. Foods that make your urine alkaline form a core for a UTI prevention diet.
Wait, what’s pH level?
pH is a measure that basically tells you how many hydrogen ions are present in a certain environment. pH is measured for various purposes and it is known to affect how bacteria behave, and either they will thrive or stay dormant.
Too much hydrogen ions and the environment becomes acidic, too little and it’s called alkaline. Normal pH of the bladder is slightly acidic. The more acidic is an environment in your bladder, the easier it’s for E. coli to grow and multiply.
- A neutral pH is 7.0
- Acidic – Lower pH level (less than 7.0, more positive hydrogen ions)
- Alkaline – Higher Ph level (more than 7.0, less positive hydrogen ions)
On the other hand, the more alkaline is your bladder, the less active E. coli. On top of it, helpful enzymes that fight inflammation and support healthy bladder microclimate are also more active in an alkaline environment. Therefore the main purpose of UTI prevention diet is to make your urine alkaline.
How do I know which food is good?
It is easy to confuse “sour” and “acidic” when thinking about food in terms of how it tastes, however, the taste of the food has nothing to do with how it is broken down by our bodies.
Simply put, certain foods and drinks help to create more hydrogen ions, while others decrease the number of hydrogen ions.
Lemon is a great example being a highly alkaline food even though before our body process them they are acidic! Bottom line the pH of the food before you eat it is less important than what it turns into once it’s inside your body. The easiest way to make right choices to prevent UTI with diet is to get familiar with the food lists below.
Bad (increases urine acidity)
Avoid these for a UTI prevention diet:
- Starchy grains such as wheat, rice
- Sugars, syrups, and sweets
- Certain dairy products
- Processed foods
- Fresh meats and processed meats
- Sodas and other sweetened beverages
- High-protein foods and supplements
- Many prescription drugs
Good (makes your urine more alkaline)
Some alkalizing foods and beverages you can incorporate into your UTI prevention diet are:
- Soy, such as miso, soybeans, tofu, and tempeh
- Unsweetened yogurt and milk
- Raw honey
- Most vegetables, including potatoes
- Leafy greens
- Most fruits besides those previously listed as acidic
- Herbs and spices, excluding salt, mustard, and nutmeg
- Pseudocereals such as flax, millet, quinoa, and amaranth
- Herbal teas
Secret #2: Minerals and Supplements
The alkalinity of your urine is also affected by your intake of certain minerals such as:
Besides taking supplements you can also consume more fruits and veggies that contain high amounts of these minerals such as:
- apples, apricots, bananas, berries, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, cantaloupe, cherries, figs, grapes, kiwi, mangoes, watermelon, honeydew melon, nectarines, pineapples, pear and tangerines
- asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, chard, cauliflower, collard greens, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, parsnips, peppers, pumpkin, turnips, sprouts, sweet potatoes, and watercress.
Other useful supplements that you could include in your diet are:
- Probiotics (to promote healthy microbiome of your bladder and vagina. Read “What doctors don’t know about UTI prevention and why probiotics are very important” )
- D-mannose (to help to get rid of E. coli safely. Read “What’s D-Mannose and How to take D-Mannose“)
- Biofilm fighting enzymes
Secret #3: Your blood type and your diet
Do you remember that popular in the 90s “blood type diet”? It’s not a complete hoax!
Interestingly, certain enzymes (called IAP) that are super helpful in keeping your bladder healthy differ across blood types. Blood type O and B have the highest levels of IAP while type A shows the lowest.
If you have blood type A make sure to pay extra attention to your UTI prevention diet and help your body to keep your bladder alkaline. Basically, you need to avoid meat as much as possible and double down on veggies and grains. Type O should favor fish, veggies, and grains. While type B needs to avoid chicken, wheat, and corn.
When you might benefit from acidic urine
If your doctor prescribes you a preventive antibiotic with Methenamine, they would ask you to maintain an acidic urine level, which is contrary to what a healthy urine is, but is required for the antibiotic to work. I find it ironic and, in a way a vicious cycle.
Do you know your blood type? Have you heard about alkaline diet before? Let me know in your comments below.