Posts Tagged ‘cranberries’

The magic question is what do bladder problems and cranberries have in common?

If you are stumped as to the answer then either you do not suffer from the discomfort of recurrent bladder infections or you already consume enough cranberries or cranberry juice on a regular basis to not to need to worry about it!

Cranberries are fruits that are excellent in the fight against bladder problems and a variety of urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most widespread of all bacterial related infections and next to respiratory infections, they are the number one reason that people visit their doctors’ offices. Antibiotics are usually the answer to bladder problems but when it comes to prevention, it is time to think cranberry juice. Cranberries are not just a food for the Christmas or Thanksgiving table!

Types of Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections can be broken down into three basis categories- urethritis, cystitis and pyelonephritis. The consumption of cranberries and/or cranberry juice cannot help urethritis because it is a viral infection and cranberries help to fight bacteria in the bladder.

On the other hand, both cystitis and pyelonephritis are bacterial infections that can benefit from the consumption of cranberry juice. Cystitis is the most common of all urinary tract infections and is particularly common in women. Cystitis brings with it discomfort in the abdominal area and sometimes in the lower back near the kidneys, as well as a frequent need to urinate.

Pyelonephritis is the most serious of all urinary tract infections. This type of infection begins in the bladder and if left untreated can make its way to the kidneys and cause damage once there. The symptoms of pyelonephritis include nausea, severe pain in the lower back, chills and fever.

Research Findings

Research into cranberries and how they can be eaten to help prevent bladder infections has been going on since the 1840’s.German researchers discovered a chemical in cranberries called hippuric acid that prevents bacteria from finding its way into the bladder and from there, attaching to the walls of the bladder and growing. There are high levels of benzoic acid to be found in cranberry juice and it is believed that that is what bacteria do not like to come into contact with.

Further studies in modern day such as the one conducted by researchers at Weber State University in Utah in 1994 have found that cranberry juice has the unique ability to inhibit the E. coli bacteria from affixing itself to the walls of the bladder as well as to individual cells. Cranberry juice sets up an unfriendly environment for the bacteria to live in. It is hypothesized by researchers that it is polymeric proanthocyanidins and fructose that give cranberry juice its antibacterial properties.

Consumption of Cranberry Juice

Cranberry (which is technically known as vaccinum macrocarpon) is best consumed by way of cranberry juice but for those who do not enjoy the taste, cranberry capsules are another option. Cranberry juice is often an acquired taste. If you find it too strong for your liking then add a few teaspoons of water to it.

An ounce of prevention is important to help keep future urinary tract infections at bay. It is wise to consume a few glasses of cranberry juice on a weekly basis or for those with recurrent infections, drink one to three glasses on a daily basis. If you are concerned about the sugar content in cranberry juice then sugar free cranberry juice can be purchased at an alternative health food store or supermarket. The majority of brands of cranberry juice contain at least 10 to 20 percent of real cranberries and this is adequate for the body’s fight against UTI’s.

An Important Note …

Please be aware that while cranberries can set up an unwelcome environment for bacteria to grow in and can help to protect the bladder from a bladder infection, they cannot get rid of or cure an infection once it has developed. If you suspect that you have a bladder infection then you need to see your doctor right away for a proper diagnosis. He will prescribe you antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Bladder infections that are left untreated can make their way up into the kidneys and cause a more serious infection. Don’t let that happen to you.


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