3 Main Secrets of UTI Prevention Diet

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.

Coffee should not be your drink if you are aiming to prevent UTI with diet
Coffee might help you with your energy level but is also known to increase pH.

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.

Lemons to prevent UTI
Even though lemons are acidic to taste they lower your body’s acidity once consumed and therefore could help to prevent UTIs!

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

    Meat and bread are considered "bad food" for your UTI prevention efforts
    Unfortunately, the tastiest food seems to be the least healthy option when preventing UTI with diet.
  • Fish
  • Processed foods
  • Fresh meats and processed meats
  • Sodas and other sweetened beverages
  • Coffee
  • High-protein foods and supplements
  • Many prescription drugs

Good (makes your urine more alkaline)

Eggs are healthy and help to keep alkaline pH
UTI prevention diet thankfully includes eggs

Some alkalizing foods and beverages you can incorporate into your UTI prevention diet are:

  • Eggs
  • 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
  • WATER

Secret #2: Minerals and Supplements

The alkalinity of your urine is also affected by your intake of certain minerals such as:

  • Calcium
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium


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:

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.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. Hi there! I have suffered from chronic recurrent UTIs for the past 3 years and after many attempts at various medicines and techniques, my doc prescribed Methenamine. I haven’t started it yet because I’m a little apprehensive about the drug and cannot find a whole lot of research or anecdotal research on it. Also apprehensive because my stomach can be easily upset. My instinct would be to follow your above advice to keep urine less acidic, but my understanding is that Methenamine makes the urine more acidic. What are your thoughts? Have you ever tried it or talked to anyone who has? Thank you!!

    • Hey Nat, here is a post that has some info in regards to methenamine . Ultimately, IMHO you need to look into causes and also address bacterial biofilms. In general, most doctors do not consider urine pH as a part of the preventive strategy (too little research), methenamine had some limited success in clinical trials. I’d say, for women, vaginal health would be important to address if suffering from rUTI. Ask your doctor to culture vaginal flora and see what they find 🙂

  2. Hi, I am really liking your site and the consolidation of all the UTI information in one place! I was a little bit confused, though, at some of the wording from the previous page (“make sure your urine has low pH”) and the information on this page. The line from last page had me thinking lower pH meant more acidic, which would be contrary to the beneficial alkalinic state stated on this page. Again, maybe it was how I read the wording, but simply read over, the line suggests more acidic pH for your urine as advise. Just bringing that to attention as I might not be the only one confused by it. Or maybe I am, haha. I knew what you meant may have been about less positive hydrogen ions, but the term “low pH” signified “acidic” to me. Sorry for rambling, and I mean no offense!

    • Hi CC,
      Thanks for your note!
      I found one incorrect reference (when talking about eggs) and fixed it. LMK if you still see something confusing, I really appreciate it. Might have been just my honest mistake when writing 🙂
      Best,

  3. I just found this site, after searching for “how to make urine more ACIDIC.” My dr wants to prescribe a preventive med called hiprex, which acidifies urine to prevent growth of e coli. So now I’m confused, because the diet you suggest here is designed to alkalinize the urine. I’m ready to try to fix my issue through diet, but I would appreciate if you could address the issue of conflicting dietary advice re prevention. Appreciate any feedback on this! Thanks!

    • Hi LB,
      Sure, this comes up frequently, I’ll add this to the post. Hiprex does not acidify the urine. The method of action of this drug is to release an antibiotic called methenamine. It’s the antibiotic that stops the growth of bacteria in urine, not the fact that the urine itself is acidic or alkaline. However, because the active component of this drug (methenamine) is better activated in acidic urine (here is a post about drugs containing Methenamine), you are required to make your urine more acidic to help the drug work. Normally, ascorbic acid is prescribed along the way with this antibiotic.
      Hope this helps,

    • Hi Kathy, magnesium is a very important element and is included in many UTI prevention protocols. The rest of your list take as per your doctor advice. Focus on consuming as many green leafy veggies and a variety of fiber as possible and you’ll do good regardless of your blood type. There is plenty of research about benefits of the plant-based diet. IMHO our society is really overindulging in animal protein on a daily basis.

  4. Can you please clarify on the topic of “grains”? It is on both your good and bad list. Is it just the usual—refined grains bad, whole grains good? Thank you!

    Lesley

    • Hi Lesley, good question and also prompted a clarification in the post (which I just made 🙂 ). Whole grains are better than processed regardless of the type of a grain. Next step is so called “pseudocereals”, grains that have not been modified by humans and have smaller starch contains.

  5. Why is the recommended PH of the vagina very acidic in order to keep e-coli at bay, yet the recommended PH of the urinary tract is alkaline?

    • Hi Marion, great question! As you know, each organ of the body has it’s own pH.
      You are right, healthy vagina is acidic while healthy urine is alkaline, because we are looking at two different methods of your body’s defense against pathogens. In a way, pH of your vagina/urine are symptoms of your overall health.
      1) Vagina: Helpful bacteria in vagina need acidic environment. “Lactobacilli serve as a protection from pathogens (including e. coli). Although the methods by which these organisms do this are still unclear, it appears to involve an ability to adhere to and to populate the vaginal epithelium and mucin layer, to inhibit pathogens from taking over, to reduce pathogen virulence, and to modulate host defenses.” In fact, increased vaginal pH can affect the ability of lactobacilli to adhere to epithelial cells and colonize the vagina.
      Your main defense against e.coli in vagina are good bacteria (not necessarily just low pH), and they prefer (and in some cases can contribute to) low pH.
      2) Bladder. When looking at thousands healthy individuals’ urine sample the Washington Med School research team found that higher (more alkaline) urine prevented growth of e.coli. The mechanism was attributed to the fact that these urine samples had more “iron grabbing” molecules present in them:
      “After analyzing thousands of compounds in the samples, the researchers determined that the presence of small metabolites called aromatics, which vary depending on a person’s diet, also contributed to variations in bacterial growth. Samples that restricted bacterial growth had more aromatic compounds, and urine that permitted bacterial growth had fewer.
      Henderson and his colleagues suspect that at least some of these aromatics are good iron binders, helping deprive the bacteria of iron. And perhaps surprisingly, these molecules are not produced by human cells, but by a person’s gut microbes as they process food in the diet.”
      In a way, pH of your urine is secondary to a healthy diet that provides more of the bacteria fighting aromatics.
      Bottom line, you have to eat healthy and according to what we know “healthy” means more fresh veggies, more fermented veggies, less processed food. Therefore, if you would just target your urine pH (for example by taking Tums) you might not see the needed effect. Lead a healthy lifestyle and your body will be helping you in many different ways, many of which are still a puzzle for doctors 🙂

  6. I only drink the organic juices with no sweetener added. Not from concentrate. Just pure juice. The cranberry is a little rough, maybe that’s why he suggests the pineapple with it. He has cranberry and pineapple in the deflect with the d-mannose. Everytime I get lab work it’s e-coli. I drink the juice about twice a day (when I remember ????).
    I’m not clear on when exactly to take the probiotics. The first time I read about them, I took them right after a round of antibiotics, then I’ve taken them during an infection along with the d-mannose. The infections aren’t as debilitating as in the past but I’m still not sure I’m taking the probiotics when I should. Should I take them as a preventative?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Celeste,
      Yes, probiotics are important to take for prevention and I personally try to complete a cycle (30 capsules) per quarter (so 3-4 times a year). I have not come across a study that would indicate a specific regimen. Given that my lifestyle is probably not ideal to support my bladder and vaginal microbiome on it’s own I try give my good bacteria a regular boost!
      There are conflicting studies, but most probably agree that probiotics could be useful for vaginal health. While wide range probiotics are important especially after a course of antibiotics you actually need two specific strains for vaginal health.
      Best of luck!

      • So you do not take probiotics on a daily basis all year? Did you not feel any effects when you would do 30 days and then go off of it? Also how often would you take NAC supplements?

        There is so much information, that I really want to find a daily prevention routine. I have an infection currently and I am on Keflex. I have struggled with UtI’s since my senior year of high school and it is now 4 years from that point, and still getting them every 3-6 months!

        Thank you for this site, I think it has a lot of good information!

        • Hi Kaitlin,

          Sorry to hear about your struggles. Do you know what causes your UTIs? This should be your main question in order to come up with a great prevention plan.
          Things that you can ask your MD about:
          1) If you can take NAC with antibiotic
          2) If you could supplement with probiotics couple hours after antibiotics
          3) If you could supplement with D-Mannose
          It’s always a great idea to follow a diet and a supplementation protocol to restore your vaginal and bladder flora.
          As to your questions: No, I do not take probiotics all the time and I never had any side effects during or after a course of probiotics. However, some folk might experience bloating if starting on a cycle of potent probiotics with a wide range of strains.
          It’s important to understand what triggers your UTIs so you can plan how to mitigate the risks.
          Best wishes!

  7. Actually when I took it a few years ago I didn’t have any problems with uti’s, but I didn’t realize the d-mannose in it was for that at the time and I quit taking it. The deflect has a much smaller dose so I think it’s a preventative. I’ve had more problems in the last 3 years and completely forgot about the deflect. Btw, only types b & ab deflect contain the d-mannose. I’m finding I have to be more aggressive now. I’m hoping if the condition improves I can go back to a normal maintenance dose. Ugh! He also recommends drinking daily a cranberry and pineapple juice blend to help combat uti’s. Very tasty ???? I’m battling a uti as we speak. Not fun. ????

  8. I have been reading your blog for several weeks now and the info on D mannose has helped tremendously. I’ve also been doing the blood type diet for many years and your question about blood type here made me look deeper into blood type and bladder infections. I’m attaching a link I think you’ll find interesting. I’m blood type AB. It seems B & AB blood types have the highest incidence of the e-coli bacteria because e-coli is B-like and the 2 blood type don’t produce any antigens for it. Let me know what you think. http://www.dadamo.com/B2blogs/blogs/index.php/2004/09/20/type-b-non-secretors-and-bladder-infecti?blog=27

    • Thanks Celeste! Glad it is helpful! Reading your article, looks very interesting. Never heard of the product that he is advising (deflect). Have you tried it yourself?

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