Did you know that the urinary tract infection (UTI) is the second most common type of infection in the body? Annually, approximately 8.1 million people visit the hospital for a UTI. Because of the anatomy of the body, women are more prone to developing these infections– their lifetime risk of experiencing a UTI is over 50%. While men can and certainly do suffer from UTIs, they are less common.
Because a UTI is an infection, part of prevention and management involves supporting the body’s immune system. While proper hygiene is part of the equation to urinary tract health, below are some quick tips on how diet and lifestyle changes can help fight off infection as well as support everyone’s urinary tract health.
– Watch water intake. Dehydration concentrates the urine and increases the chances of infection. Drink enough water each day to help remove bacteria from your bladder. If you do not like water, eat foods that have high water content, such as: leafy greens, melon, broccoli, carrots, yogurt, apples, grapefruits, celery, and tomatoes. For those suffering from kidney failure, as you know, you must be careful not to ingest too much water. Connect with your health care provider to determine the amount that’s best for you.
– Eat blueberries, lingonberries, and cranberries. Blueberries, lingonberries, and cranberries contain antioxidants that have properties that prevent bacteria from attaching to the walls of the bladder. Although scientists are having trouble finding consistent results, cranberries and cranberry juice are still a popular natural remedy for urinary tract prevention and treatment. So if you do not enjoy drinking water, try out some pure cranberry juice. It is tart, so feel free to use a natural sweetener to help with the taste.
– Incorporate garlic into your cooking. Garlic helps boost the immune system and helps fight off infection (and vampires).
– Avoid caffeine, if not, drink more water. Because caffeine is a diuretic, it promotes fluid loss, makes urine more concentrated, and increases the chance of infection.
– Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol also dehydrates and reduces the function of the immune system. If you are partaking in alcoholic festivities, make sure to drink extra water.
– Limit refined sugar and flour. Refined sugar and flour are hard to avoid in the modern diet, but they are responsible for the rise of degenerative disease and they suppress immune function.
– Take a probiotic. A growing body of research finds that probiotics support the immune system as well as genital and urinary tract health. If you suffer from recurring UTIs a probiotic may be a good supplement for you.
– Don’t hold it. When you need to go, go. The longer you hold urine in, the more bacteria will grow and impact your urinary tract and bladder.
– Exercise. Exercise boosts your immune system, helps reduce stress and improves sleep, all of which benefit your general health.
– Stop smoking. Smoking irritates the bladder and is connected to bladder cancer. What are you waiting for? Just quit.
For general information on urinary tract health and to read more about symptoms of a UTI, visit the US Department of Health and Human Services website. For a more comprehensive list of preventative lifestyle measures and resources, check out the University of Maryland’s website.