The news media and health care market have been selling the idea that cranberries can prevent and cure urinary tract infections (UTIs) for years. Lucky for us, a huge study was recently released that investigated and reviewed 24 studies (over 4,000 participants) on cranberries’ role in the prevention and treatment of UTIs. So, did the results finally give cranberries their long awaited stamp of approval or was this just another rotten egg? Before we investigate this “fact,” I want to give you some background information on UTIs. According to the National Kidney and Urological Diseases Clearinghouse, UTIs are the second most common type of infection in the body and account for 8.3 million doctor visits each year!
Experts believe that an active ingredient in cranberries can prevent bacteria, such as E. Coli, from sticking to the walls of the bladder and other parts of the urinary tract. The review found a small (statistically insignificant) trend towards fewer UTIs in people taking cranberry products. However, the optimum dose or method (juice, pills) was not clear and unfortunately cranberry products cannot treat UTIs.
Take home message: if you already have a UTI, cranberries can no longer help you. However, if you get recurrent UTIs then cranberry juice may decrease the number of symptomatic UTIs.
Image courtesy of Ann Davis