Cranberry Sauce: Good for What Ails You

Compounds in cranberries are able to alter E. coli bacteria so that they are unable to initiate an infection. E. coli are responsible for illnesses ranging from kidney infections, to gastroenteritis, to tooth decay.

Beneficial health effects that have long been attributed to cranberries and cranberry juice include, in particular, the ability to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

A new study used an atomic force microscope and other sophisticated tools to study how certain tannins (called proanthocyanidins or PACs), which are found primarily in cranberries, interact with bacteria at the molecular level. The study found that the compounds prevent E. coli from adhering to cells in the body, a necessary first step in infections.

Cranberries also inhibit the ability of E. coli to produce IAA, a molecule that enables bacteria to sense whether or not their population is large enough to initiate an infection.

  • Science Blog November 13, 2007
Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Natural cranberries can be a wonderful healthy food with many benefits. For example, they have five times the antioxidant content of broccoli, which means they may help protect against cancer, stroke and heart disease. Animal studies have also found that cranberries decrease levels of total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol), and they’ve even been linked to prevention of tooth decay.

Several scientific studies, in addition to the one above, have shown that cranberries keep E. coli from adhering to the walls of your urinary tract. 80 to 90 percent of urinary tract infections are caused by E. coli, so having a simple, inexpensive, non-drug alternative to deal with this common infection is information worth spreading.

Choose Your Cranberry Products Wisely

The greatest antioxidant levels are found in fresh cranberries. (Compared with 19 other common fruits, cranberries have the highest level of the antioxidant phenol.)

Although most traditional cranberry juice found in your supermarket will likely work for urinary tract infections, I still would not advise using it, because like all fruit juices, it is very high in fructose (sugar). The fructose, like nearly all simple sugars, is metabolized quickly, disrupting your insulin levels, which contributes to most chronic illness.

Additionally, processing, storage, and heating all reduce the cranberries’ antioxidant levels, so your regular store bought, canned cranberry sauce will not be able to contribute much in terms of health benefits, despite the insinuations to that fact in the above article.

The ideal way to consume them is in their raw state, but you can also add them to your freshly made vegetable juice. The cranberries add a delightful flavor to the juice.

Keep in mind, however, that eating large amounts of cranberries is not very good for you if you are overweight, have high blood pressure or diabetes. They also should be used in smaller concentrations for protein types, whereas carbohydrate- and vegetarian types can tolerate larger quantities of them.

While cranberry juice clearly works, I personally prefer using D. Mannose, which is  a simple sugar that is easily purchased without a prescription. This therapy works very well for any bladder infection caused by E. Coli. Basically the way the E. Coli infects you is by attaching to the wall of your bladder. It attaches to a receptor on the bladder that is virtually identical to the mannose sugar. So when you consume the mannose, the E. Coli detach from your bladder and go into your urine, so the next time you urinate they’re flushed down the toilet.

The beauty of D-mannose is that the bacteria NEVER develop a resistance to it because they are not being killed, they are simply being painlessly and harmlessly removed out of your bladder.

Very elegant solution, wouldn’t you agree?

How to Protect Yourself From UTI’s

It is important to note that if you have a urinary tract infection and the cranberry juice is not working, you should consider using an antibiotic, as the infection could spread into your kidneys and cause some very serious damage if left untreated.

If you do use an antibiotic, it is crucial to take a high quality, high potency probiotic to replace the beneficial bacteria that the antibiotic kills.

It is also important to recognize that you can take simple steps to prevent contracting UTI’s in the first place. From my previous clinical experience, I noticed that one of the most frequent causes of these infections is less than careful hygiene after you develop loose stools, or diarrhea.

It is very easy to contaminate your fingers when wiping yourself with toilet paper, and if those contaminated fingers come anywhere close to the opening of the urethra, there is a high likelihood of infection.

Another pearl of wisdom is for women to use ONLY white unscented toilet paper, as many women react to the dyes and chemicals in other toilet papers. Unbleached toilet paper would be even better, to reduce any possible chlorine exposure, and to help reduce the environmental contamination that comes from the bleaching process.

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