A new study presented in San Diego of 140 premenopausal women in Bulgaria who found that urinary tract infections (UTIs) were reduced by half with when their water consumption increased by 1 and a half liters. The women included in the study previously had experienced UTIs more than three times a year. After dividing the test subjects in half, researchers found that the group who increased their water intake by 1 and a half liters (6 cups) averaged 1.6 infections a year and the group who did not drink more water reported an average of 3.1 infections.
Drink more water. Experience fewer UTIs. Is it really that simple? The answer is yes and no. UTIs don’t magically develop because you’re not drinking enough water, though a dehydrated body is more susceptible to infection and any number of ailments from headaches to constipation to depression to acid reflux. Consider these health issues. Consider the time, money, and effort that goes into treating these ailments. Why aren’t we putting as much effort into preventing the UTI as we are into treating it?
The Very Beginning
Conventional medicine says that a urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra. The belief is that the bacteria comes from the rectum, and studies show that 80 to 90 percent of bladder infections are caused by E. coli, an intestinal bacteria. Many holistic health practitioners suspect that leaky gut may also be a common cause of UTIs. The E. coli bacteria has a long, hair-like appendage with the protein FimH at the end of it. That protein forms a tiny hook. The hook helps the E.coli hang on and gives it a chance to grow and irritate the urinary tract. The urinary and intestinal tracts are composed of the same mucosal tissue and much like the gut, the E. coli that end up in the urethra can be balanced by beneficial bacteria, particularly lactobacillus. If there isn’t enough lactobacillus to balance the E. Coli, the risk of UTIs increases. Other common UTI risk factors include:
- Holding in urine for too long
- Feminine products
- Hormone shifts
- High blood sugar or uncontrolled diabetes
- Kidney stones
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While physiology makes UTIs are more easily noticed in women and much of the literature on them is geared towards women, they do affect men as well. In fact, older men are most likely to be hospitalized for serious kidney and bladder infections, usually the next phase of an untreated urinary tract infection. Rates of emergency visits for people with UTIs remain highest among the elderly, although there is a bump among women 15-25 years old. Fifty to sixty percent of adult women have experienced a UTI in their life, and that familiarity could explain why women are less likely to be hospitalized than men. Being able to recognize UTI symptoms quickly and deal with them effectively can be the difference between a mild inconvenience and a serious bladder or kidney infection. Some of the ways to spot a UTI are obvious (it burns when you pee), but other signs of a distressed urinary tract are equally important. These include, but are not limited to:
- A constant need to urinate
- A burning sensation when you urinate
- Cloudy, foul-smelling urine
- Pain or pressure in the lower abdomen
- Feeling tired
- Fever and chills
- Back or side pain
Regular lower back pain is a sign of a sluggish renal system. A sluggish renal system allows pathogens to colonize. Fluid gets stale, it doesn’t move as it should, and pathogenic activity increases. The organs become swollen and put pressure on the hip and lower back joints. This can make it difficult to stand up straight and elongate the back. If the pain decreases after urination, this is the sign that none needs to detox the urinary tract and the liver and gut.” – Michael Edwards
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, how can you stop a UTI from going any further?
Once you realize that you have or could soon have a UTI, time is of the essence. If you decide to go the conventional medicine route, you’ll be given antibiotics. UTIs are the second most common reason to prescribe antibiotics, but this method harms more than it helps. Yes, harmful bacteria like E. coli are eliminated, but the slow-moving lactobacillus necessary to keep the harmful bacteria in check are also destroyed. Without those beneficial bacteria to balance the vaginal ecosystem, antibiotics have turned a simple UTI that research now tells us could have been resolved with drinking more water into a breeding ground for a potentially recurring infection.
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It is naive to think that a bladder or urinary tract infection should attempt to be cured just by simply drinking more water. But this study also proves that there are other potential treatment methods out there that haven’t been properly explored due to how easy it is to prescribe antibiotics. Many of these methods also have the benefit of strengthening your overall body ecosystem and preventing future infections. In addition to drinking lots of water, other common holistic treatment options include:
- Cranberry – According to Web MD, cranberry juice, extract, or supplements help about as much as taking antibiotics to prevent another UTI. It is most effective when paired with higher PH urine or a balanced microbiome. The tannins in cranberry make it effective against E. coli and prevent it from colonizing the urinary tract. Cranberry also supports the kidneys, making waste elimination more efficient. All cranberry is not created equal, though so make sure you use unsweetened cranberry juice, not from concentrate. The taste can be gnarly, so do yourself a favor and check out this lemonade recipe. The recipe makes it easy to add cranberry to your everyday routine.
- Probiotics – Good bacteria are needed to manage harmful bacteria overgrowth. Without them, E. coli and other disruptors are able to flourish. For a UTI (or anything really), it’s important to pick a probiotic that makes it to the problem area. Lacto-fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, or kim chi are great sources of beneficial lactobacillus, but it remains to be seen if they make past the stomach acid. Your best bet is looking for a probiotic with an acid-resistant capsule.
- Garlic – Garlic has some fantastic antimicrobial properties and is effective in eliminating a range of bacteria and fungus, including candida. The properties are a result of the compound allicin which occurs when a sulfur-based compound called alliin, and the enzyme alliinase in garlic come into contact. To take full advantage of the allicin, leave the garlic for a few minutes after it has been chopped. This allows the alliin and alliinase time to create more allicin. Keep your garlic raw to get the most benefits, but swallowing raw garlic by itself can cause nausea. Raw, chopped garlic on salads is an especially effective deployment of the herb.
- D-Mannose – Of all of the remedies listed, D-mannose has received the most attention from researchers. In a 2014 study of its efficacy, D-mannose was more successful than nitrofurantoin, an antibiotic, at reducing recurring UTIs and had fewer side effects. D-Mannose is related to glucose and derived from cranberries, peaches, and other berries.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C enhances the immune system, improves liver function, and inhibits the growth of E. coli. Pregnant women experiencing vitamin c treatment for three months experienced fewer urinary infections, according to a 2007 survey. It acidifies the urine, limiting bacteria growth. Vitamin c does come in supplement form, but many of those are derived from corn. Your best bet to increase your vitamin c intake to eat more produce, as it’s found in oranges, kale, peppers, and a multitude of other beneficial goodies.
- Oil of Oregano – Active against all of the clinical strains of bacteria tested (including E. coli), oil of oregano acts like an antibiotic without contributing to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.It does this with extremely high levels of antioxidants and is antiparasitic, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. It is a powerful, indiscriminate killer that can reset the microbial environment in the intestines. It can be very harsh to irritated or sensitive skin, so capsule form is likely the easiest way to use it.
None of those actually fix the root cause of UTIs, though. Environment matters. Many people don’t have complete control over the pesticides sprayed on their food or what is happening with the waste produced by the chemical company down the street or 15 miles away. There is, however, another environment that you can and should exert control over in the quest to be healthy – your gut environment. This is where it all starts. When you have a UTI or bladder infection, something has gone wrong with the gut. Diet is crucial.
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Bad bacteria will always be there, but infections occur when the good bacteria are no longer able to keep them in check. Good bacteria are slow moving globs of protection that crowd out and starve off pathogens. Cultivating this good bacteria is essential to balance the pathogenic bacteria. Diet builds and nurtures beneficial bacterial colonies. Bad bacteria thrive on sugar and other refined foods, and it’s no coincidence that our most beneficial gut bacteria prefer to live off of a variety of beneficial raw veggies, fruits, and herbs.
We Need Fewer Antibiotics…Start Now
Antibiotic resistance is here. By necessity, we must look somewhere other than antibiotics, and there are other options that conventional medicine is not considering. If reducing UTIs by half is accomplished with a treatment as simple as drinking more water, what do we even need them for? For years, medicine has pushed for a cure rather than prevention. As margins for error in health keep decreasing, choosing to treat and support your body with diet and lifestyle before you get sick is the best way to never get sick.
Fast UTI Protocol
Cranberry juice is the secret. But not just any cranberry juice will do, it must be 100% cranberry juice with no other juices or sweeteners added. Conventional cranberry juice with high fructose corn syrup or table sugar will more often than not feed a urinary tract infection.
Lakewood is a common brand of cranberry juice that is available in the U.S. It is pasteurized but it is not reconstituted (not from concentrate). If you can find cranberry juice that’s unpasteurized at your local farmers market, or make it yourself, even better. If you cannot find the cranberry juice get a cranberry supplement. For those with recurring UTIs. have both on hand if possible.
At the first sign of kidney problems, like slow, shy, or otherwise difficult urination, take a gulp of cranberry juice straight, and then make a gallon of cranberry lemonade. This will help detoxify the kidneys, liver, gallbladder, and to a smaller extent the gut. If the infection has set in, SF722 and a probiotic would be in order. For chronic urinary tract issues, taking SF722 daily and always having nettle leaf and this kidney tea (or tincture) on hand is advised.
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- To Reduce Risk Of Recurring Bladder Infection, Try Drinking More Water – NPR
- Top 12 Natural Home Remedies for UTI – Dr. Axe
- Urinary Tract Infection – How Bacteria Nestle In – Science Daily
- What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections – Body Ecology
- 8 Most Common Causes Of UTIs – Prevention
- Women suffer most from urinary tract infections, men more likely to be hospitalized – Science Daily
- Cranberry Juice and Urinary Tract Infections – Topic Overview – Web MD
- Garlic – The Most Amazing Herb On The Planet – Organic Lifestyle Magazine