Prevention of UTIs
Advise the patient to drink plenty of water and frequently urinate, urinate shortly after sex, wipe from front to back after urinating or defecating, and keep the genital area clean. Cranberry extracts do not help treat existing UTIs but may help prevent their development. This is because cranberries contain compounds called proanthocyanidins that prevent E. coli from sticking to the digestive and urinary tract walls.19,20 In a large meta-analysis, researchers found that women with recurrent UTIs who took cranberry over 12 months had a 35%21 reduction in infections. Another large clinical trial found that 500 milligrams of cranberry extract taken daily for six months reduced UTI rate to the same extent as 100 mg of trimethoprim, an antibiotic, without posing a risk of antimicrobial resistance or super-infection in women with recurrent UTIs.22
Cranberry extract tablets appear to be twice as effective as cranberry juice for preventing UTIs, which may be due in part to the sugar content of cranberry juice.23 Cranberry extracts also contain anthocyanins and salicylic acid. These compounds may have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
Changes in the bacterial balance of the genitourinary tract can increase the likelihood of colonization by organisms such as E. coli. Regular use of probiotics may help reduce the risk of UTIs, especially after a course of antibiotics. Probiotics are available online as food products, such as yogurts and supplements. In particular, Bifidobacterium longum has shown an ability to prevent undesirable bacteria sticking to the intestinal tract walls, in addition to enhancing the production of natural antibacterial chemicals and organic acids, thereby reducing the likelihood of UTIs.24