on nutrition: on cranberry juice and urinary tract infections | Lifestyles
Dear Dr. Blonz: I searched on Google, but I would like to have your opinion. I am a man with a urinary tract infection. Is cranberry juice a good deterrent against a UTI? Also, is it a good bladder stimulator? — CL, Richmond, CA
Dear CL: Sorry to hear about this UTI. I assume you have seen your healthcare professional and are receiving effective treatment for the infection.
You are asking about the deterrent value of cranberry juice, so I want to acknowledge this upfront: there is a lack of evidence that cranberry products can effectively treat an existing UTI. When it comes to deterring future infections, extensive evaluations have been conducted over several decades, and the evidence remains a bit conflicting: some studies report positive effects as a deterrent for UTIs, others show no impact significant.
Cranberry is a healthy food and, like its berry relatives, it contains a variety of bioactive phytochemicals. These can be thought of as defensive chemicals that a plant has developed, over generations of evolution, to aid in its survival and success. Cranberry’s potential as a deterrent for UTIs is linked to flavonoid compounds known as proanthocyanidins. The proposed mechanism prevents UTIs by inhibiting bacterial adhesion: the attachment of unwanted bacteria to the urinary tract for long enough to settle in, multiply and cause problems.
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Cranberry products come in a variety of formulations, ranging from fresh and dried fruit to juices and dietary supplements. There is no evidence that cranberries significantly stimulate the bladder, apart from any liquid consumed in conjunction. The acidic nature of cranberries can irritate any existing inflammation, so stay well hydrated.
At the very least, you can enjoy cranberries as they are, with their signature flavor and acidity. If you experience any adverse symptoms, discuss them with your healthcare professional. To learn more about the different types of UTIs, see the Mayo Clinic article at b.link/4sxe34.
Dear Dr. Blonz: We have recently switched to skimmed milk and I am concerned that my children (an 8 year old boy and a 9 year old girl) will be deprived of a valuable source of calories if they also drink skim milk. They are both good eaters and carry no apparent excess body fat. I understand that children make good use of milk fat from infancy to toddlerhood. —GD, San Diego
Dear GD: Kids don’t have to drink skim, but it won’t hurt them if it’s part of their (hopefully) healthy diet. They are at an age where they can make up for the missing calories from milk fat through other food choices.
If you haven’t noticed a decrease in her dairy cravings, make sure her diet includes a balance of foods, some of which are higher in calorie density. Examples could be nuts, nut butters or seeds. (And then there’s always that occasional frozen treat!) Any habitual reliance on calories from simple sugars should be avoided.
The key will be educating them about the long-term benefits of balance and a whole plant-based diet. And always understand that what you put on your plate will be more convincing than your spoken instructions.
Ed Blonz, Ph.D., is a nutritional scientist and assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of “The Wellness Supermarket Buying Guide” e-book (2012), which is also available as a free digital resource at blonz.com/guide.Send your questions to: “On Nutrition“, Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send your inquiries by e-mail to [email protected]