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Blueberries Can Also Treat Urinary Tract Infections

March 05, 2005 | 17,093 views
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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common among women: More than half of all women experience at least one UTI in their lifetime. And while there is no truly definitive reason why some women get UTIs and why the recurrence of the infection accumulates in the same women, researchers sought out to determine tools in which UTIs could be prevented.

Typically bacteria in the stool trigger UTIs. Fortunately simple dietary changes have the ability to have profound influences on the bacterial flora in your intestine and thus radically influence your risk of future UTIs.

Determining Preventative Dietary Factors

In order to conclude whether or not dietary factors play a protective role against UTIs, researchers conducted a study in women to evaluate certain dietary factors. The study focused particularly on the intake of fruit and berries and milk products, factors influencing energy consumption and previously established UTI risk factors.

In the study, nearly 140 women with a diagnosis of an acute UTI were compared with 185 age-matched women who did not experience any UTI occurrences within the past five years. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire based on dietary and other lifestyle habits during the past month, such as estimating:

  • The amounts of milk products consumed (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.)
  • The amounts of fruits and berries consumed (both fresh and prepared)
  • The frequency of consumption for both milk and fruit and berry products


The data from the study revealed that eating more fresh fruit and drinking more berry juice was linked to a lower risk of UTI recurrence. This is because most berries are rich in flavonols (a potent inhibitor of the adhesion of E. coli type bacteria to human cells). In general the flavonol content in berries is high, which may explain why they help reduce recurrence of infections.

The researchers also learned that the consumption of fermented milk products containing probiotics was linked with a low incidence of UTI recurrence. The protective effect of milk products is most likely related more to the probiotics in the products, rather than the milk itself.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition March, 2003;77(3):600-604 Free Full-Text Article


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Most people are aware that cranberries are well documented to treat urinary tract infections. The only caution, however, is that the diluted processed cranberry juice available in most commercial grocery stores is not your best bet to treat the infections. Instead, whole fresh cranberries, the raw juice in health food stores, or capsules of cranberry extract are far better options.

Berries--Protecting You From UTIs

It has recently come to my attention that blueberries also have compounds similar to those of cranberries and can also be used to treat UTIs.

Epicatechin is a bioflavanoid found both in cranberries and blueberries. It is believed to inhibit the attachment of the bacteria to the lining of the bladder thus causing the bacteria to be eliminated in the urine rather than attaching to the bladder wall, multiplying and causing an infection.

I have not seen any study directly comparing the two fruits, but it seems reasonable to conclude that it might be helpful to add blueberries to your diet if you suffer from frequent UTIs. (If it doesn't work for the UTI at least you can be comforted by the fact that you are reliably reducing the aging of your brain.)

This is not the season for blueberries so if you are interested in using them for this purpose you can either purchase frozen organic blueberries in your local health food store or for your convenience we offer wild organic blueberries in our store. Also, for your convenience, we carry delicious Wild Blueberry IQ Softgel Capsules that are made from whole fresh blueberries--and contain 40 mg of potent disease-fighting anthocyanins per capsule, more than any other available supplement!

Additional Tools to Treat or Prevent UTIs

  • Fermented Milk Products: It was interesting to read in the study that the frequent use of fermented milk products containing probiotics was associated with a low incidence of UTI recurrence, whereas no such association was found for fresh milk products. Without question fermented raw milk would be superior and the use of kefir to ferment the raw milk would greatly enhance its effect.

  • D-mannose: A natural treatment you can consider is the use of a simple non-insulin raising sugar called d-mannose. It can be purchased as a powder in many health food stores and one-quarter teaspoon can be used once a day to prevent infections, or it can be used more frequently to aid in the treatment of an active infection. D-mannose is what is believed to be the active ingredient in cranberries that treats UTIs. It treats the infections by making the lining of the bladder very slippery so the E. coli bacteria cannot attach to the bladder and multiply.

Related Articles:

Antibiotics Useless Treatment For Some UTIs

Diet Help for Urinary Tract Infections

Cranberry Juice for Urinary Tract Infections

Doctors Choose Expensive Drugs for Urinary Infections

Looking at the Color Of Your Urine Can Diagnose an Infection or If You're Dehydrated

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