Cranberries and urinary tract health are often in the news, with both positive and negative reports. Headlines have ranged from “Cranberry Juice does not Help” to “Cranberry juice Does Help.” Cranberry controversy abounds.
So, what is the real story? Does drinking cranberry juice help keep your urinary tract healthy? We’ll answer these questions, and more, in this article.
Let’s start with some basics about urinary tract health.
What may cause a urinary tract concern?
Bacteria from the colon and rectal area cause most urinary concerns. These bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. Bacteria use special hair-like structures called P-fimbria to stick to the wall of the urinary tract. Once the bacteria are attached, they can multiply and cause a urinary health concern.
Women are more likely to a urinary tract health concern than men. According to Dr. Martha Boone, Board Certified Urologist, about 95% of concerns among people under 50 years of age occur in women. Women have higher rates because a woman’s urethra is shorter than a man’s urethra. Therefore, bacteria have less distance to travel to reach a woman’s bladder.
Also women are at higher risk for a urinary tract concern during pregnancy, and also after menopause. Decreased estrogen levels after menopause can allow the overgrowth of bacteria at the urinary opening.
Sexual activity is a risk factor in women too. During intercourse, bacteria from the rectal and vaginal area can enter the urethra, potentially causing a concern. Therefore, it is important for women to urinate after sex, to help flush the bacteria out of the body. Also, be sure to wipe from front to back after urinating, which helps keep bacteria from getting into the urethra.
Cranberries and Urinary Tract Health
Cranberry has been a long-standing folk remedy for various bladder issues. Researchers used to think cranberries were beneficial because of their acidity. However, drinking normal amounts of cranberry juice hasn’t been shown to make urine more acidic.
In recent years, research has revealed that cranberries naturally contain a specific group of compounds that may be beneficial. Lead cranberry researcher Amy Howell, Ph.D. first isolated cranberries secret. She determined that compounds naturally found in cranberries bind to E. coli bacteria, preventing them from sticking to the urinary tract walls and causing an issue. This binding makes it is easier for the bad bacteria to be flushed out in the urine before a problem can start.
Does cranberry juice help with keep your urinary tract healthy?
Possibly. There is a fair amount of research that suggests that cranberry juice can help keep your urinary tract healthy. One study in women with a recent history of urinary concerns found that drinking 240 ml of a cranberry beverage daily could help. Other studies have also investigated the benefits of cranberry juice and have concluded there may be a protective effects to that daily glass of cranberry cocktail.
What should I do if I have a urinary concern?
Cranberry juice cannot treat a current concern. Once bacteria have attached to the urinary tract and caused an infection, cranberry juice cannot help. If you currently have a concern, contact your healthcare provider.
How much cranberry for urinary health?
Often people want to know how much cranberry they need to eat or drink for optimal urinary health. Cranberry researchers suggest that drinking 8-10 ounces of cranberry juice cocktail, eating 1 ounce of dried or 1 ½ cups of fresh cranberries or 1/2 cup of cranberry sauce may give you the necessary cranberry you need each day to help keep your urinary tract health.
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