A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection caused by the bacteria that live in your own gut (to be more specific, the bacteria that live in your stool). Since the bacterial composition of stools depend on what you eat, it is logical to assume that a particular diet can influence the risk of infection. Most data describing diet as a risk factor for UTI come from epidemiological and interventional trials.
The research papers that I found on PubMed describe attempts to find a correlation between diet, lifestyle, and UTI frequency.
Here is what I have learned after reading through the results of several studies.
To reduce chances of UT recurrence, you should:
- Consume food and drinks with a certain type of probiotics (or take a supplement)
- Eat berries (especially blueberries)
And this is why:
In one study (Influence of oral intake of S. boulardii…), that was carried out with 14 boys and 10 girls between three and eight years old, a commercial capsule or powder containing 5 billion colony-forming units (CFU) of S. boulardii was administered once a day for 5 days (Saccharomyces boulardii is actually a natural yeast, originally extracted from the lychee fruit but you can buy it as a supplement, here is an Amazon link: Jarrow Formulas Saccharomyces Boulardii & MOS, 90 Capsules).
The number of E. coli and yeast colonies was measured in the study group’s stool samples before and after the use of this supplement. Before the treatment, the mean number of E. coli colonies in g/ml stool was 384,625+/-445,744. This number decreased significantly to 6,283+/-20,283 (almost 60 times less!) after treatment. S. boulardii was not detected in the stool before treatment. The number of colonies increased to 11,047+/-26,754 in g/ml stool. S. boulardii may be effective in reducing the number of E. coli colonies in the stool.
What does it mean? Well, since we know that most UTIs are caused by E. coli that is transmitted from your own gut into your urinary tract, the less E. coli bacteria you have in your gut, the better! As this study demonstrates, in just five days, it is possible to significantly decrease the number of E. coli in your stool, therefore decreasing the risk of contamination. Make sure to add food rich in probiotics to your diet:
- Kefir (sold pretty much in every supermarket now and way more potent than yogurt!)
- Sauerkraut, kimchi, and other pickled veggies (but not the ones in vinegar). They are not that high on probiotics themselves, but the enzymes they produce will help to create a better environment for your body to host probiotics
- Miso soup and tempeh
- If you have been taking antibiotics recently, consider a concentrated delivery of probiotics with supplements. Both of these brands have over a thousand consumer reviews and are pretty affordable:
Eat More Berries
Another study found that consuming berries as a preventive measure helped women to avoid UTIs: “Most berries, especially those of the genus Vaccinium (FYI: these are blueberries!), are rich in flavonols, such as epicatechin, which is a potent inhibitor of the adhesion of coliform bacteria to human cells. Plants produce flavonols in response to microbial infection, suggesting a role for these substances in antimicrobial defense. Some fruit such as apples, cherries, and plums are rich in epicatechin. Still, in general, the flavonol content of berries is higher, which may explain their association with reduced UTI recurrence.”
Interestingly enough, blueberries also contain a compound known as D-mannose, which can help prevent urinary tract infections by interfering with bacteria’s ability to adhere to the walls in the urethra and bladder. My bias is, of course, towards the fact that the berries help because they have naturally occurring D-mannose.
If you are not familiar with D-mannose, please read this post.
To sum it up, eat these berries to aid UTI prevention:
And (or) have a glass of water with D-mannose if it’s not berry season. You can buy it in many health stores (Sprouts, Whole Foods Market, etc.). The cheapest option that I have found so far is to buy it in bulk on Amazon:
2) or a smaller size: Now Foods D-mannose Powder, 3-Ounce
Stay healthy, and let me know what works for you in the comments below!