Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI) afflict millions of women. Antibiotics are the standard treatment, but repeated courses of antibiotic therapy may create resistant strains of UTI-causing bacteria. In addition, every drug has its own risks and side effects. Thus, nutritional support for urinary tract health is gaining in popularity. Here's my choice for the top 10 dietary products.
Cranberry: This is the most popular natural option for prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections. The primary mechanism of action is believed to be cranberry's ability to block adhesion of bacteria to the inner wall of the bladder and urethra.
Blueberry: For taste variety, you may want to alternate cranberries and blueberries in your diet. In lab studies, the two berries are similar in antiadhesion effects.
D-Mannose: This simple sugar also demonstrates antiadhesion effects on UTI bacteria.
Probiotics: A common source of UTI is bacteria from the rectum or vagina. Probiotics can be used both orally and as vaginal suppositories to promote growth of friendly bacteria that may crowd out more problematic varieties.
Berberine: This is an alkaloid that can be extracted from many plants. In lab studies, it inhibited the growth of several bacteria that are commonly responsible for UTIs. It is recommended for short-term use at the first sign of an infection.
Uva ursi (bearberry): This herbal product is similar to berberine and is also recommended for short-term use at the first sign of an infection.
Potassium citrate: The botanical products berberine and bearberry inhibit bacterial growth more effectively in an alkaline environment. Potassium citrate alkalizes the urine and also reduced urinary symptoms in a study of 205 women.
Vitamin C: The immune system requires the ascorbate ion from vitamin C as a co-enzyme.
Vitamin A: A randomized controlled trial showed a statistically significant effect of vitamin A in preventing recurrent UTIs.