Study: Can Cranberry Juice Really Help With Urinary Tract Infections?

Health Research
Last Updated Jul 16, 2020
Health Research

Cranberry juice has long had an anecdotal association with fighting urinary tract infections (UTI).  UTI are largely the result of E. coli bacteria, which affix themselves and colonise the bladder and urinary system.  Recent research has however confirmed how effective cranberry juice fights bacteria and infection at the molecular level. 

The US-based Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) found that the little hooks which E. coli use to affix themselves to the lining of the urinary tract are susceptible to cranberry juice exposure, and lose their ability to attach effectively with extended exposure.  This makes them more likely to be swept away with the passage of urine in the urinary tract. Furthermore their ability to attach was found to be directly related to the concentration of cranberry juice in the urine.

The Urinary Tract

The urinary tract is comprised of the following components:

  • Kidneys - responsible for extracting waste materials from the blood, excreted as urine
  • Ureter -  tubes that connect the kidney to the bladder
  • Bladder - for urine storage; and
  • Urethra - the tubes that transport urine from the bladder to the penis (men) or vulva (females)

Urinary Tract Infections

  • Frequent desire to urinate
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Discomfort when urinating
  • Bloated bladder sensation  
  • Infection by E. coli is typically confirmed by analysis of a urine sample by a laboratory.
How to Prevent UTI

Besides drinking plenty of cranberry juice one can also take high strength cranberry capsules to further limit the ability of E. coli to attach to your urinary tract. Constipation often results from a UTI so limiting this by increasing fibre in your diet and drinking plenty of fluids (especially water) is crucial.  Good toilet hygiene is also important, particularly for females who should try to always wipe from the front to the back to limit the potential for bacterial infection.

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Originally published on Aug 02, 2010

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