The cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) may be small in size, but it can pack quite the big punch when it comes to taste. Described by most people as sour, the cranberry may be an acquired taste – cranberry dishes and beverages are often sweetened to lessen the impact of that distinctive taste. Of course, there are people who enjoy cranberries for that sour taste – no added sweeteners or sugars necessary for them!
A native plant of North America, the cranberry fruit is also well-known for its high antioxidant content. Antioxidants can help reduce the damage caused by free radicals in the body, and cranberries have more antioxidants (about 8.983!) than many other fruits and vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, red grapes, apples, raspberries, and cherries. Cranberries are also rich in vitamin C and dietary fibre.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a condition in which germs, usually bacteria, infect part of our urinary tract. The urinary tract includes our bladder, kidneys, ureter and urethra.
Who is at risk?
Both men and women can be affected by UTI. However, women are especially at risk. Their urethras are shorter than men’s, so it is easier for germs in the rectal area to enter their urinary tract and cause infection. Also, hormonal changes after menopause increase the risk of UTI.
The risk is also higher in people with weaker immune systems (such as due to conditions like diabetes) and those with kidney stones or an enlarged prostate.
Common symptoms include strong and persistent urgency to urinate, a burning sensation when urinating, the urine appearing red, bright pink or a colour resembling cola (a sign that blood is present in the urine) and, in women, pelvic pain.
The Cranberry Link
There are studies suggesting that cranberry juice may help in reducing the risk of UTI, especially for people with a history of frequent UTIs. It is believed that cranberry juice contains a substance that prevents germs that cause UTI from attaching themselves to the urinary tract lining, thus stopping them from causing problems!
However, cranberry juice has a high acidic content, so some people may experience diarrhoea, stomach upset and other side effects. Talk to your doctor for more information.
Other Ways to Keep UTI Away
- Proper hygiene is very important. After using the toilet, always clean your private parts from front to back.
- Eat plenty of fruits and other food rich in dietary fibre, as it can promote better bowel movement and regular bowel opening. This keeps away constipation (a condition which increases the risk of UTI).
- Drink plenty of fluids – at least 8 glasses of water every day.
Mayo Clinic. Available at www.mayoclinic.com
WebMD. Available at www.webmd.com.