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Women's Urinary Tract Infections

Women who are plagued by frequent episodes of painful urinary tract infections may get relief from simple changes in their diet, according to new research. Investigators discovered that women who regularly drink fresh juices and eat yogurt and cheese may be less likely than others to develop urinary tract infections (UTI).

The investigators found that women who drank at least one glass of fresh juice daily - either freshly squeezed or from concentrate, with no additional sweeteners - were 34% less likely to have experienced a recent UTI. Women appeared especially protected from UTIs if they drank juices made from berries.

Women who reported eating milk products that contain helpful microbes known as probiotic bacteria - such as yogurt and cheese, at least three times each week were almost 80% less likely to have recently developed a UTI than women who ate similar foods less than once per week.

These findings may help explain why some women often develop UTIs, while others do not . Dietary habits seem to be an important risk factor for UTI recurrence in fertile women, and dietary guidance could be a first step towards prevention.

Kontokari and colleagues base their findings on surveys of the eating habits of 139 women who had developed a UTI within two weeks prior, and 185 women who had not experienced UTIs within the past five years. Study participants' average age was 30. The authors found that women who had not suffered a recent UTI reported higher consumption of fresh fruit juices and milk products containing probiotic bacteria.

In terms of why certain food and drink may ward off UTIs, Kontokari and colleagues note that UTIs can be caused by bacteria that migrate from the stool. Foods that modify the stool's bacterial content may therefore influence the risk of UTIs.

Popular in Europe and increasingly in the US, probiotics are foods that contain living cultures of "good" bacteria. People have ascribed many benefits to eating or drinking these foods, including the ability to prevent urinary tract infections.

Previous research has also shown that drinking cranberry juice helps ward off repeat episodes of UTIs, the researchers note. Plants contain certain anti-oxidants that may help protect them against bacterial infections. These substances may also shield people who eat certain fruits and vegetables from infection as well.


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