Urinary Tract Infections - Familiar to Many, Friend to None

Urinary Tract Infections 1

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI's) unfortunately are much more common in women than men - it's a simple case of anatomy.  UTI's typically occur when bacteria (in 90% of cases it's caused by E. Coli bacteria) from the Gastro-Intestinal Tract reach the Urinary Tract and Bladder.

Up to 50% of women will experience UTI's in their life, with many experiencing a relapse within 6 months of initial infection.  Symptoms include frequent and urgent need to urinate, pain or a burning sensation in urinating, and urine that is cloudy.

So how can we prevent and treat UTI's?  Let's have a look.

Evidence supports the use of cranberry as a means of preventing E. Coli adherence to the urinary tract. Cranberry’s anti-adhesion properties appear to be attributed, in part, to the presence of A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs), which block the binding of E. Coli P fimbriae, and also fructose, which blocks the binding of type 1 fimbriae.

The use of cranberry to treat an active UTI is reported to not be all that effective and additional intervention may be required to treat a UTI.  Cranberry therefore should be taken as a preventative by those who have experienced UTI's in the past, or are recovering from a UTI.

For treatment of an active infection, you're going to need something stronger.  Recent studies have shown that Ellagic Acid may be as effective for the treatment of UTI's as pharmaceutical antibiotics.  A great source of Ellagic Acid is pomegranate.

For Ellagic Acid to be yielded from pomegranate, you will require certain bacteria in the GIT to make this possible.  Taking a probiotic containing Lactobacillus plantarum will do the job.

The role of vitamin D in preventing infection must also not be overlooked. Apart from its well-known task to regulate calcium metabolism, vitamin D has been recognised to influence innate and acquired immune reactions, and vitamin D stores may influence susceptibility to urinary tract infection in selected individuals.

Evidence demonstrates vitamin D will stimulate the body’s endogenous antimicrobial defence system in the urogenital tract (as well as respiratory epithelium and keratinocytes).  Specifically, vitamin D3 is involved in activating cathelicidin (an antimicrobial peptide) production in the urinary tract and bladder epithelia when exposed to pathogenic bacteria. Cathelicidin plays a fundamental role in the body’s first line of defence against infection, attacking uropathogenic cell membranes. 

In summary, the key is Cranberry, Ellagic Acid and Vitamin D.  Those with a history of UTI's should take a cranberry supplement and possibly a D3 supplement, a good probiotic to ward off repeat infections - if you've had a UTI in the past you'll know it's not something you want to experience again.

If you have any questions about UTI's or other conditions, call in and see one of our friendly staff.

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