Growing body of evidence supports eating cranberries for urinary tract health

The body constantly produces waste as it goes through its different functions. These wastes find their way out of the body through the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, ureters, and bladder, so that they don’t affect a person’s health. Unfortunately, there are lots of people who fail to take care of their body’s drainage system, causing them to suffer from conditions like urinary tract infections (UTIs). If you’re one of these people then cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) might just be what you need since these fruits have protective effects on the urinary tract system.

Urinary tract infections are the most common problems that people encounter with regards to urinary tract health. This condition is caused by the presence of bacteria like E. coli, which often enter the body through the urethra before they start multiplying in the bladder. Normally, the body is able to keep these bacteria out of the body. However, lack of care for the urinary tract can cause its defenses to fail. UTIs can interfere with a person’s daily life since it is often associated with the following signs and symptoms:

  • Strong and persistent urge to urinate
  • Pain when urinating
  • Frequent passage of small amounts of urine
  • Presence of blood in the urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain in women

Cranberries and urinary tract health

Cranberries have long been implicated in the preservation of urinary tract health and scientists continue to find more evidence supporting this idea. Recent studies have shown that cranberries, whether they are in the form of extracts, capsules, or powder, lead to significant improvements in UTI symptoms. This effect was attributed to various mechanisms of action and among them, the most well-studied one involves increasing the capacity of urine to prevent bacteria from binding to the walls of the urinary tract.

Most UTI-causing bacteria have appendages that help them bind to the cells of the urinary tract. Fortunately, cranberries contain large amounts of proanthocyanidins that have dose-dependent anti-adherence activity. This was based on the results of numerous studies, with two of the most recent clinical studies showing that the bacteria anti-adherence activity of urine peaks three hours after cranberry extracts were consumed.

“Many questions remain to be answered before the true mechanisms of action of cranberry in preventing UTIs are properly understood and corresponding quality/activity markers can be agreed upon with appropriate methods of analysis. Anti-adherence activity of urine is likely part, or perhaps even all, of the story, but the specific metabolites that deliver this activity remain to be unequivocally established,” said Kerry Bone in her HerbalGram article regarding the evidence supporting the efficacy of cranberries in maintaining urinary tract health.

Overall, existing studies show that cranberries can be used as a simple and natural way of improving urinary tract health. (Related: A daily glass of cranberry juice reduces urinary tract infections and antibiotic use in women.)

Natural ways to keep the urinary tract system healthy

Some other simple habits that you can practice to maintain the health of your urinary tract include the following:

  • Drinking more water — Insufficient amounts of water in the body disrupts the normal flow of urine. This can lead to the build-up of wastes and the formation of blockages so make sure that you drink at least eight glasses of water per day. However, if you participate in activities that cause you to lose more water than normal, make sure to drink even more fluids.
  • Reducing salt intake — Too much salt can tip the balance between minerals and water in your kidneys. This can lead to elevated blood pressure and the formation of kidney stones.
  • Urinating frequently — Frequent urination doesn’t just get rid of wastes in your body, it also flushes out bacteria that are present in you urinary tract.

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