Though it’s not always top-of-mind, urinary health is an important aspect of your well-being, and urinary problems can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help promote a healthy urinary tract. This article discusses some natural remedies that you may want to incorporate into your lifestyle, as well as things you should avoid to help keep your urinary tract healthy.
What Works for Urinary Health
Multiple studies show that cranberry offers urinary health benefits. It’s believed that natural components in cranberries, known as proanthocyanidins (PACs), can help prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. Bacteria that are successful in adhering to any part of the urinary system may lead to infection.
Many research studies have looked at the PACs in cranberry juice and cranberry extracts. Most people opt for cranberry juice cocktail to boost their PAC intake but beware of the sugar content. Just one eight-ounce serving of cranberry juice cocktail contains about 25 grams of added sugar. According to the Cranberry Institute, you can reap the same benefits by eating 1/3 cup of dried cranberries, ¼ cup of cranberry sauce, or 2 ounces of unsweetened cranberry juice.
Curious about the benefits of other berries? Research exploring blueberries, lingonberries, and chokeberries for urinary health hasn’t panned out. Only cranberries contain the type of PACs that have been shown to keep your urinary tract healthy.
Drink adequate water
Water seems to make a difference in urinary health. At least one study suggests that increasing water intake helps keep the bladder healthy among postmenopausal women who previously had low water intake and who regularly experienced bladder infections.
Remember, fluid needs vary with gender, age, activity, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and medical status. Be sure to check with a healthcare provider to discuss your personal needs. Though there is no exact fluid requirement, the Institute of Medicine recommends about 91 ounces (2.7 liters) of total water for women and about 125 ounces (3.7 liters) for men. Water is a great hydration beverage, but feel free to mix it up with fruit-infused water, unsweetened tea, milk, and other drinks low in added sugars. About 20% of your fluid intake comes from food – make sure you include plenty of fruits and vegetables, like cucumber, melon, strawberries, and spinach, to help you stay hydrated.
This one may seem obvious. However, using the bathroom when needed, not holding it for long periods, and emptying your bladder completely can help keep your bladder in good shape. And The National Institute on Aging, among others, recommends urinating shortly after sex to clear the urethra of potential bacteria that may have entered your urinary system during intercourse. This is especially important for women, as they are more prone to urinary health concerns.
What Doesn’t Work for Urinary Health
Hold off on kidney and bladder teas that promise to improve urinary health. You might see asparagus root, goldenrod, lovage, stinging nettle, and other teas promoted as ways to boost urinary health. However, there’s no reliable or sufficient scientific evidence to support these claims at this time.
Beyond what you eat, keep in mind that douching, using a diaphragm or spermicides, as well as long soaks in a bathtub, may increase the risk of urinary tract concerns. Certain prostate conditions may also affect your urinary health.
Taking a proactive approach to urinary health can go a long way towards preventing unwanted conditions and promoting overall well-being.