What is a UTI?
UTI or Urinary Tract Infection is an infection in any part of the urinary system. It includes the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. Although the infection can occur anywhere in this tract, there are more cases of UTI in the lower tract. This infection is one of the most common infections seen in humans. It is more common in women, according to experts, 1 in 2 women suffers from a urinary tract infection in a lifetime.
Symptoms of UTI
While UTI mostly presents with the common symptoms of pain and itching while urination, the symptoms actually depend on the part which is affected and differ accordingly. If the UTI is present in the lower urinary tract, it usually presents with symptoms such as ● Pain and itching sensation while and after urinating
● Frequent feeling of urgency for urination
● Burning sensation while urination
● Dark-colored urine
● Bloody or cloudy urine
● Pelvic pain in women
In case, if the infection reached the upper urinary tract – the ureters and kidney, the symptoms differ. It might present flu-like symptoms as follows
● Discomfort in the lower abdomen
● Pain in the lower back and stomach
Types and Causes of UTI
Depending on the area that is affected, UTI can be divided into 2 types –
A. Cystitis – When the infection begins in the bladder, it is termed cystitis. This infection is caused by a bacterium name E.coli which is generally found in the digestive tract. B. Urethritis – When the infection begins in the urethra, it is termed urethritis. It is caused by gastrointestinal bacteria which can be transmitted through the anus.
UTIs are common in women. 50% of women suffer from UTI in their lifetime. Here are the main causes of UTI in women
1. Female anatomy – women have a shorter urethra which shortens the travel of the bacteria to the bladder. This increases the risk of the infection spreading. 2. Birth control – certain types of birth control methods can also cause UTI. Specifically, the usage of certain diaphragms can be a risk factor.
3. Sexual activity – though not a cause of UTI, but sexual activity certainly increases the risk of contracting UTI. New partners are a risk factor for UTI.
4. Menopause – hormonal imbalance, more specifically the decreased levels of estrogen in females during menopause make them vulnerable to UTIs.
Diet and UTI
Good health starts with what you eat. For the same reason, when you work on your health, starting with your diet is the best and most important way. This is because diet has around 60-80% contribution to your health.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”–Hippocrates
It is truly said, your food has everything you need for good health and wellbeing. When it comes to urinary tract health, diet may not be the cure for it but it can definitely help ward off the chances of infection. A diet rich in probiotics, antioxidants, and fiber can help you minimize the chances of contracting a UTI.
pH is the most important thing to be considered in your diet. It is your pH that decides the hospitality of your digestive system and urinary tract. The hospitability of your urinary tract for the bacteria can be changed with your diet.
According to American Association for Clinical Chemistry, the average value for urine pH is 6.0, but it usually ranges from 4.5 to 8.0. The ideal or normal pH of urine is slightly acidic – 6.0. A neutral pH is 7.0, anything above 7.0 is alkaline and anything below it is acidic. This pH of urine and urinary tract depends on your diet. The food and fluids that you consume determine the health of your bladder and even kidneys.
Superfoods to prevent UTI
Superfoods are foods that are nutrient-dense, meaning they provide a substantial amount of nutrients in small portion size. These are foods that are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
There are certain foods that help prevent UTI
Like any other infection, drinking plenty of fluids and urinating frequently help flush out the bacteria. There are certain power foods that help in the prevention of UTI such as cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, oranges, dark chocolates, and black or green tea. Let us take a look at some of these power foods-
● Cranberry is a popular food when it comes to UTIs. It does not help to cure the infection, but it helps in prevention.
They contain a compound called proanthocyanidins which prevent E.coli from sticking to the walls of the digestive system and urinary tract. Supplements in the form of extract tablets may be more effective than cranberry juice. Cranberries also contain compounds called anthocyanins, D-mannose, hippuric acid, and salicylic acid which have a pain-killing and anti-inflammatory effect. Blueberries and raspberries have a similar effect.
● Probiotics are as important to prevent UTI as they are for gut health. An imbalance in the healthy gut bacteria may make the digestive tract more hospitable for E.coli to stick to the walls of the tract and may promote its colonization.
It is, therefore, crucial to maintaining a healthy gut bacteria balance. Among the diverse gut bacteria, Bifidobacterium longum has shown to be helpful in preventing infectious bacteria from
sticking to the walls of the digestive tract. Yogurt or supplements are good options for probiotics.
● Green tea has widely been used for health purposes over the years. It comes in leaves as well as powdered form and can be consumed with hot water.
Green tea contains compounds called polyphenols which have an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effect. Among all the compounds, it contains a compound called Epigallocatechin which is said to be effective specifically on UTI causing strains of E.coli. This compound prevents the bacteria from sticking to the inner walls of the digestive and urinary tract.
● Banana is another superfood that is not as popular as other superfoods when it comes to UTI, but it plays an equally crucial role in the prevention of infection.
Banana helps regulate bowel movements and they also help relieve the pressure on urine flow. Bananas are a rich source of potassium. One of the causes of UTIs is kidney stones. Potassium decreases the probability of kidney stone formation and hence may also be helpful in preventing UTIs. Especially for those who have a history of kidney stones.
A balanced diet is a secret to well-being. The food you eat is helpful in preventing as well as minimizing the symptoms after catching the infection. Add these superfoods to your diet to prevent the infection. In the case of recurring UTI, these superfoods should be a part of your regular diet in order to flush out the bacteria and prevent further complications.
Try &Me’s UTI Drink! It is a complete drink for prevention and management of UTI. Its active ingredients remove bacteria from the urinary lining, flushes toxins, soothe pain and replenishes body of the nutrient loss due to frequent urination.