Here’s the Juice on Why it Works.
Accounting for about 8.3 million medical visits annually, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common infection in humans. This serious health problem impacts one in five women, and many suffer recurring infections.
Most urinary infections are due to E. coli, bacteria normally found in the intestines. Chlamydia, an increasingly common sexually transmitted disease (STD), is another culprit, as are the herpes virus, candida overgrowth, parasites, and enlarged prostate in men.
Sad to say, not everyone with a urinary infection will notice any symptoms. Pay attention if you have frequent urges to urinate, burning and/or pain when urinating, or if you just feel crummy in general (fatigued, shaky, washed out), as these are common signals for UTIs.
If urine is cloudy, milky-looking, or dark colored, you may have a UTI, especially if only a small amount of liquid is passed. Men may experience a sense of fullness in the rectum.
Infected women often feel an uncomfortable pressure above the pubic bone. UTIs occur more often in females because the urethra is close to the rectum and vagina, making it easier for bacteria and other pathogens to migrate into the urinary tract. Hormonal changes in pregnancy also put women with UTIs at risk for bladder infections.
Don’t despair: Researchers at Rutgers and Yale universities now confirm that cranberries can prevent UTIs. These ruby red “jewels” of the berry family are rich in proanthocyanidins, which adhere to the E. coli bacteria that cause the vast majority of these infections.
Recent analyses of several studies show that cranberries reduce the recurrence rate of urinary tract infections—for a year—by 35 percent. Because these berries remove (rather than kill) the infection-causing bacteria, E. coli is less likely to build the resistance that bacteria often does to antibiotics.
Scottish scientists call cranberry extract an inexpensive, natural way to relieve recurring UTIs—without the adverse effects of drugs like trimethoprim. This antibiotic cannot be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Nor should anyone low in folic acid (as many Americans are) or those with kidney or liver disease use this drug.
I’ve been a big fan of cranberries for years, which is why cran-water is a staple in all of my Fat Flush programs. But be sure to buy high quality—unsweetened—cranberry juice to mix with plenty of pure water as you flush out bacteria and other toxins. Sugar only feeds bacteria.
Cranberry’s antibacterial action may also prevent Helicobacter pylori, implicated in ulcers and gastrointestinal problems. And cranberry in various forms can help clear the bacteria that cause gum disease—the gateway to many other infections.
Besides bacteria-fighting chemicals and life-saving antioxidants, cranberries contain malic acid that staves off diarrhea, as well as those terribly painful kidney stones. Other organic acids and quercetin in cranberries can inhibit the growth of cancer.
That’s only the beginning. Cranberries help prevent atherosclerosis—the buildup of cholesterol, fat, and plaque in the arteries—and raise HDL (healthy) cholesterol. These potent berries may even prevent the formation of blood clots and stroke.
To help prevent UTIs in the first place, make hygiene a priority too. Shower instead of taking tub baths. Women must always wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from the anus from entering the vagina or urethra. Cleanse the genital area after sexual intercourse, and avoid feminine hygiene sprays or scented douches, which can irritate the urethra.