08 Dec Should You Eat Cranberries When You Have A Urinary Tract Infection?
Cranberry juice is often talked about as a treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs). When I was a teenager I remember my dad telling me to drink cranberry juice when I was diagnosed with a UTI. However, there has been some doubt in the power of cranberries with regards to UTIs. Here’s a look at the clinical research and if you should be drinking 100% cranberry juice the next time you have a UTI.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) affects more than 150 million people worldwide and is the most common urologic disease in the United States. More specifically, women have a 50-percent risk of a UTI episode over their lifetime, and approximately 20 to 30-percent of women experience a subsequent UTI recurrence. The most common treatment of UTIs are antibiotics, however recurring infections and antibiotic treatments may result in antibiotic resistance and gastrointestinal problems. Therefore, alternative methods, specifically through nutrition can be beneficial if proven to be an effective way to help treat UTIs.
Cranberries contain a unique antioxidant called proanthocyanidins (PACs). These polyphenols, which are natural plant compounds found in cranberries, have been proven to promote heart health, help reduce inflammation, and help reduce the incidence of certain infections. Studies have shown that they reduce the incidence and recurrence of UTIs by preventing bacteria from adhering to cell walls and initiating infections in the urinary tract. One systematic review and meta analysis (collection of research studies) found a 26-percent reduction in the risk of UTI recurrence for healthy women who received a cranberry intervention (juice, capsules, or tablets) compared to women who did not receive the cranberry intervention. Additionally, the American Urological Association indicated that cranberries may be a non-antibiotic prophylactic option for individuals experiencing recurrent UTIs and recommended that clinicians may offer it to patients.
Although 100% cranberry juice is an easy and tasty way to get the health benefits of cranberries, there are other ways to do so as well. One clinical trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016 found that consuming 8-fluid ounces a day of 27% cranberry juice beverage reduced the number of symptomatic UTIs by nearly 40-percent in women with recurrent UTIs. Another way to reap the benefits of cranberries is by adding whole cranberries to your dishes. Since cranberries are only in season in the fall, however, purchasing frozen cranberries and keeping them in the freezer year-round is a great way to add them into their diet. Add them into smoothies or warm them up with oatmeal for a heart-healthy breakfast. You can also go the supplement route and take cranberry extract pills, however consult your physician or registered dietitian before taking any supplements.
Will You See Health Claims on Cranberry Products?
In July of 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it does not intend to object to the use of certain qualified health claims regarding consuming certain cranberry products and a reduced risk of recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI) in healthy women. This means that you will begin to see health claims for the association between consumption of cranberry juice beverages containing at least 27 percent cranberry juice (most commercially available cranberry cocktails contain this amount) and cranberry dietary supplements containing at least 500 milligrams (mg) of cranberry fruit powder (100% fruit) and a reduced risk of recurrent UTI. The claims do not include other conventional foods or food products made from or containing cranberries, such as dried cranberries or cranberry sauce.
While you may think that cranberries are only best served on the side of turkey only on Thanksgiving, there are other proven health benefits (and the yummy flavor!) that make this fruit a beneficial ingredient to use all year round.