Bladder infections, commonly termed as the urinary tract infection or UTI occur due to bacterial growth in the urinary tract. A number of factors such as insufficient fluid intake, use of public toilets, pregnancy, indigestion, surgery and abnormalities in the urethra and urinary tract can lead to bladder infections.
Increased fluid intake usually helps in flushing out the harmful bacteria and growth of probiotics. Some natural products such as cranberry juice have proven to be effective in clearing bladder infections(1)
Nutrient Composition of Cranberry
Cranberry juice is derived from cranberry which is an evergreen dwarf shrub with edible fruits, called cranberry. Cranberry juice is rich in vitamin C, salicylic acid and anti-oxidants. It contains high amount of water and not a lot of calories making it a diet efficient juice.
Moreover, cranberry contains a lot of other nutrients that aids in fighting off different health issues.
Let us find out the uses of cranberry juice for bladder infections.
Does Cranberry Juice Work for Bladder Infections?
One of the most commonly listed uses of cranberry juice is its ability to help with urinary tract and bladder infections (2). The Proanthocyanidins present in cranberry juice prevent the growth of harmful strains of the bacteria E. coli which is one of the most common reasons for urinary tract and bladder infections.
It also prevents the bacteria (3) from getting attached to the walls of the bladder. Cranberry juice also helps in maintaining the acid balance in the urine making it an unsuitable environment for bacterial growth.
Besides, cranberry juice also improves bladder health by allowing the growth of healthy essential bacteria and inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria.
How to Take Cranberry Juice for Bladder Infection?
It is advised to take pure cranberry juice with no adulterations like sugar and other additives to fight off bladder infections. Taking sugar drink may alter the blood-glucose level and cause more harm than help.
Here are the points to remember while having cranberry juice for UTI-
- Drink one glass or approximately 300 ml of cranberry juice whenever experiencing pain caused due to bladder infections.
- Cranberry juice can also be mixed with other fruit juices which are rich in vitamin C.
- Ensure that the cranberry juice is freshly squeezed to avoid intake of any preservatives or chemicals that may be present in commercially available products.
- If it tastes sour, it can be mixed with honey to avoid any gastrointestinal acidity.
Potential Risks of Using Cranberry Juice for Bladder Infections
Even though some studies claim that cranberry is effective in fighting off UTI, the acidic content makes it hard for others to digest. Here are a few side effects of cranberry juice that should be considered before consuming it for treating bladder infections:
1. People with the tendency to get kidney stones are advised not to take cranberry juice as it is high in salts, the oxalates. Research (4) has confirmed that cranberry juice increases the risk of calcium oxalate and uric acid stone formation.
2. People who take blood thinning medications like warfarin are advised to completely avoid intake of cranberry products as their interaction may lead to bleeding(5). However, there is no scientific evidence to prove this.
3. People with the problem of acidity should not consume cranberry products as the acidic nature can make things worse and upset stomach.
4. Diabetic patients should avoid artificial or packaged cranberry juice and products with high sugar content to upkeep their glucose levels.
Words of Caution
Cranberry juice is a safe and effective way to treat bladder infections as it is advised to be taken every day with a regular diet. However, the sugar content in cranberry juice must be taken into consideration.
The quantity of cranberry juice required to actually help in eliminating UTI is very high as the active component is not present in enough amounts. Hence, even though it may help in keeping the urinary tract or bladder healthy and preventing a UTI, it cannot be a substitute for proper medical treatment for people suffering from the infection.
Cranberry juice is high in acidity; hence its regular intake might cause further problems such as indigestion and a burning sensation in the stomach.
Scientists believe that consumption of cranberry juice makes the urine acidic, thus less likely for UTI causing bacteria to colonize and infect. Besides, the juice doesn’t allow bacteria to adhere to the urinary tract for longer, giving them hard time to stay and cause infection.
Irrespective of these findings, cranberry alone is not considered the sole treatment for bladder infections. If you have got one, seeking medical advice and taking proper medications along with cranberry juice will help.
- Cranberries and lower urinary tract infection prevention-https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3370320/
- Cranberry Polyphenols and Prevention against Urinary Tract Infections: Relevant Considerations-https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7436188/
- Cranberry Juice and Combinations of Its Organic Acids Are Effective against Experimental Urinary Tract Infection- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5378705/
- Effect of cranberry juice consumption on urinary stone risk factors-https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16006907/
- Are Cranberries Good for UTI Prevention?- https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/cranberries-for-uti-protection
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