The Dietitian Recommended Foods You Can Eat to Help Prevent a UTI
There’s nothing worse than suddenly feeling that painful, burning and stinging sensation when you pee — except perhaps the immediate realisation that you’ve developed a UTI. Most women know this feeling all too well because UTIs are strikingly common. In fact, approximately one in two women (and one in 20 men) will experience a UTI in their lifetime, so you’re certainly not alone.
UTIs occur when bacteria enter your urethra, causing an infection. Common reasons include dehydration, poor diet, hormones, gut imbalance, hygiene, travel, working out, and not urinating before and after sex.
Anyone who’s had a UTI knows they aren’t fun, but luckily, they’re much easier to treat than they are to endure. Too often though, people wait until they’re experiencing the uncomfortable symptoms of a UTI before they actually take action.
However, there are a number of proactive things you can do in your everyday life to avoid developing one — beginning with what you’re putting in your body. Yes, it’s true, some dietary choices can go a long way in warding off a nasty UTI.
Holding in your urine can lead to bacterial growth, therefore it’s best to not wait more than three or four hours to go to the bathroom. This is why staying hydrated is so important — because you’ll pee more often! Water is the obvious choice of drink, because it keeps your urine diluted, preventing bacteria from growing and helping you to flush out the bacteria. Aim for between two to four litres of water per day.
Consume Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are high in live active micro-organisms, which can have a beneficial effect on clearing bacteria hosted in the urinary tract when eaten in large amounts. So, stock up on your fermented foods! Yoghurt, cheese, sauerkraut and kombucha are all great examples.
Eat Cranberries and Blueberries
This one is more well known, and for good reason. Cranberries and blueberries contain a substance that can prevent bacteria from sticking on the walls of the bladder, which is known to help prevent the onset of a UTI. Don’t put all your berries in this basket though, evidence is still not strong enough to link cranberries and blueberries as a form of treatment, but they can assist when it comes to prevention.
Increase Prebiotic Intake
There is a close relationship between the muscles and nerves that control the bladder, and those that control the bowel. In fact, constipation can put pressure on the bladder and affect its function, which can increase the risk of getting a UTI. Therefore, nip the issue in the bud and prevent constipation by increasing fluid intake and eating predominantly plant-based foods that are high in fibre – like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for example.
Avoid Acidic Food
Acidic foods and drinks like coffee, soft drinks, alcohol, spicy foods, acidic fruits and artificial foods can actually cancel out the effect of urinary alkalizers, irritate your bladder and aggravate your symptoms, therefore it’s best to avoid them where possible.
If you want to reduce your risk of getting a UTI in the future, you’d do well to assess your diet to ensure you’re eating the right foods to fight off a potential infection. Let’s face it, no one wants to experience a UTI!
By taking these dietary recommendations on board, you’ll be able to prevent the onset of UTIs. However, sometimes UTIs may not be completely avoidable – especially if they’re brought on by other lifestyle factors. If you do have one, you’ll be able to find a number of over-the-counter alkalizers to treat a UTI at your local chemist — for example, cystitis sachets which relieve discomfort in urinary tract infections by diluting the urine and making it less acidic. A few good brands to look out for include Ural or Chemists’ Own’s Cystitis Relief. If symptoms are persistent or increasingly become worse, seek medical attention as soon as you can.
- Jepson RG, Williams G, Craig JC. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;10(10):CD001321. Published 2012 Oct 17. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001321.pub5
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 77, Issue 3, March 2003, Pages 600–604, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/77.3.600
- Constipation. University of California, San Francisco, Department of Urology website https://urology.ucsf.edu/patient-care/children/constipation. Accessed August 9, 2016