How cranberries can decrease your use of UTI antibiotics
Who knew that this tiny little red berry packs a real punch and has many health benefits? It can even help cut down your usage of antibiotics for UTI (Urinary Tract Infections)!
A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is the second most common type of bacterial infection worldwide and affects one in two women who will suffer from at least one UTI infection in their lifetimes.
Although UTIs usually occur in women aged 20 – 65 years, men and even infants or young children are also at risk of getting an infection, especially those who have diabetes, spinal injuries, or other nerve damage that may hinder their ability to completely empty their bladder.
When bacteria grows in the urine that remains in your bladder, this eventually leads to an infection in the urinary tract.
Symptoms may not always be present, but signs of a UTI include:
- Very strong urge to urinate but only passing small amounts when you do go
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Cloudy urine
- Red, bright pink or very dark coloured (similar to cola) urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain (only in women)
So how do you treat a UTI and can antibiotics really help?
If you have a UTI, you will probably be prescribed a course of antibiotics to treat it, but the overuse of antibiotics can actually cause the UTI to become more resistant through time.
Dr Christopher Chong, Obstetrician, Gynaecologist and Urogynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital points out that the overuse and unnecessary use of antibiotics is very common in Asia.
“Incomplete use of antibiotics (not finishing the course or using intermittently), and using the same antibiotics over and over again lead to the bacteria building a resistance” he says.
But according to Dr Chong, some patients expect antibiotics and are given antibiotics even though they do not have a bacterial infection, such as the flu – which is a viral infection and therefore needs to be treated by an anti-viral, not antibiotics (as antibiotics can only treat bacteria infections).
Antibiotics are also contributing factors to the rise of dangerous “superbugs“, which are drug-resistant strains of bacteria and cannot be treated with the use of certain types of antibiotics.
Dr Chong explains that since UTI recurrence is common (with women having a one-in-three lifetime chance of developing a UTI), this usually results in a person being over-prescribed with antibiotics, so bacteria causing UTI develops resistance to the drugs, which leads to recurrence of the infection.
Go to the next page to find out how cranberries can help cut down your use of antibiotics for UTIs
Health benefits of cranberries
These tangy little red berries not only prevent UTI, but also offer many health benefits that can help with:
- Respiratory disorders
- Kidney stones
- Heart diseases
- Stomach disorders
- Gum diseases (caused by dental plaque)
- Gastritis/ gastric ulcers
Cranberries also have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, many minerals (such as calcium to strengthen bones), can strengthen the immune system, relieve stress, and some people even use it as a health product for prevention of tumours.
Studies have also shown that when you drink cranberry juice, it helps to fight against bacteria and does not get broken down by your digestive system, so is able to reach your urinary tract and prevent any bacteria from remaining on the wall of your bladder.
“Cranberry is found to have the ability to prevent adhesion of the bacteria to the bladder wall, preventing infection. However, it does not cause release or killing of these bacteria, hence they are not used for treatment, but more for prevention and also as an adjuvant to bacteria treatment”, Dr Chong explains.
Good for the whole family
A recent global study shows that drinking a 240 ml glass of cranberry juice a day will reduce symptomatic UTIs by nearly 40 percent in women with recurrent UTIs.
You can choose to toss some fresh cranberries into your salad for a lovely tart flavour; add dried cranberries to your breakfast cereal for a healthy start to the day; drink a nice cold glass of cranberry juice to beat the heat; or even take a cranberry pill for a quick and easy daily supplement.
It doesn’t matter which form you choose to enjoy your cranberries, it will still allow you to enjoy the full health benefits that this powerful berry has to offer.
So make cranberries a regular part of your family’s diet to help boost everyone’s health and hopefully decrease your use of antibiotics in the long run!