Does Cranberry Juice Help UTIs? Science Says No, But These Simple Hacks Might Do The Trick
Have you ever been on an hours-long road trip, stopped at a rest station for gas, but foolishly decided not to at least try to pee? Was your bladder, then, inevitably throbbing 20 minutes later, with no sign of release for miles? In case you've never experienced such an agonizing struggle, that's about a fraction of what a urinary tract infection feels, even if you use the bathroom. It used to be that drinking down a bottle of cranberry juice would do the trick, but now science is saying, "LOL JK, cranberry juice won’t help your UTI, so good luck trying to find a home remedy that actually works." Sigh.
New guidelines issued by the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will be in effect starting June 5, 2018, in order to help health care professionals treat UTIs more efficiently, and according to BBC, prescribing a tall glass of cranberry juice isn’t going to cut it anymore. So even though drinking the bitter berry juice might have helped ease your UTI pain in the past, the NICE says there just isn’t enough evidence to support the old wives’ tale. Instead, the organization believes the infection should simply be treated with antibiotics.
Personally, I’ve used the cranberry juice method to nurse a nasty back-to-back UTI situation in the past and, in my opinion, it did help, at least a little bit. If you, like me, have had success with the drink, too, then you might be wondering why there really is little to no evidence backing up this holistic solution. According to Dr. Hedieh Asadi, co-founder of DeoDoc Intimate Skincare, it has a lot to do with your own individual body. "The hypothesis behind cranberry juice being used as a UTI-reliever lies in the fact that cranberries are very acidic and can help make urine more acidic," she tells Elite Daily. However, because "the ability to make urine more acidic is very individual to each person," she explains, "this method may not work for everyone."
In that case, you might not want to rule out cranberry juice as a home remedy entirely; if I were you, though, I wouldn't rely on the stuff to be the magical cure your mom always claimed it was. Luckily, sipping on cranberry juice is far from the end-all-be-all of holistic solutions to UTIs. Here are a few to remember the next time you're battling irritation.
1. Drink A Ton Of Water
Just because science says drinking cranberry juice won't fit the bill for UTI relief anymore doesn't mean you shouldn't continue sipping through the pain anyway. Grab a bottle, cup, even a gallon of good ol' H2O, and pinkies up, ladies, because water is what you want when you're dealing with an infection down there.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, drinking the recommended six to eight glasses of water a day is no joke. Not only will water keep you hydrated and help your digestive system, but the more you drink, the more you'll have to pee, and that's one of the most natural ways to flush out any bacteria hanging out in your bladder.
2. Wear Loose Clothing To Let The Area Breathe
I know myself, and any time my body feels even slightly off, I'm living in sweats until whatever's going on gets better. If that's not your first line of defense, though, consider this a mandatory step when nursing a raging UTI.
Here's the deal: Medical News Today reports that added moisture down there can make the infection worse. Swapping leggings for loose-fitting pants, and restrictive thongs for underwear made with breathable fabrics such as cotton, will help keep things dry and cool while you ride out the rest of the UTI.
3. Order Decaf
Attention, caffeine addicts: I regretfully report that espresso shots and venti Americanos may be doing your bladder dirty if you're dealing with a UTI. So while it might be a struggle trying to perk yourself up Monday morning sans your usual liquid fuel, your uterus will thank you for saying "no" to a cup of joe.
Please don't slip into my DMs, friends, I am only the messenger. Everyday Health reports caffeine irritates your bladder, making an already-sucky infection feel that much worse. For the time being, switch to decaf or sip on herbal tea instead.
4. Eat Foods That Are Good For Your Gut
In addition to drinking more fluids, you're going to want to factor in the types of foods you're eating day-to-day, and what they're accomplishing for your digestive system. In other words, watch out for things like caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and other known bladder irritants.
Holly Lucille, ND, RN, a naturopathic doctor and author of Creating and Maintaining Balance: A Woman’s Guide to Safe, Natural Hormone Health, told Everyday Health that high-fiber carbs, "such as oatmeal or lentil soup," are good for your digestive health, and should be incorporated into your diet so your gut stays healthy and you stay regular.
5. Pop A Probiotic
Another way to keep your gut healthy and good bacteria thriving is to incorporate probiotic products and foods into your diet. To do this, you can either take a probiotic supplement, or you can add some foods and drinks to your next grocery list that have a ton of probiotics in them already, like yogurt, kefir, and tempeh, to name a few.
Medicine Net defines probiotics as good bacteria that promote "a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system." When you have a UTI, Mayo Clinic explains, it's typically because E. coli (aka bad bacteria) made its way into your gastrointestinal tract. Ergo, your body is desperate for some good bacteria, and incorporating probiotics into your daily routine can help your insides fight off the bad bacteria, and replace it with the good stuff.
6. Get More Vitamin C
According to Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of DrAxe.com, and co- founder of Ancient Nutrition, vitamin C is great for combating E. coli, aka that pesky bad bacteria that's creeping into your urinary tract and making everything irritated down south. Because vitamin C is so acidic, he says, it enhances your body's immune function, so it can ward off infections with ease.
Of course, drinking a tall glass of OJ and eating oranges whole is a great way to sneak some extra vitamin C into your system, but if oranges aren't you're favorite fruit (I can relate — they are certainly not mine), rest assured, there are options: Strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, and even broccoli are loaded with vitamin C, so make a pit stop at the produce section and fill up your cart with a variety of these goods.