URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS
Urinary tract infections (UTI’s) occur when bacteria enter and infect the urinary system. Most infections begin in the urethra and then spread to other areas such as the bladder and kidneys. UTIs can occur in both men and women however, they are 50 times more likely to occur in adult females than adult males.
The signs and symptoms of UTIs include:
pain on urination
lower abdominal pain
dark coloured and smelly urine
Factors that could be making you susceptible to UTI’s
Lifestyle factors and dietary choices may be increasing your risk of developing urinary infections. Some of the most common modifiable risk factors are as follows:
Poor blood sugar control
High blood sugar levels alter the way that your immune system responds to infections by inhibiting immune function and by promoting the release of inflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, higher concentrations of glucose in the urine creates a favourable environment for bacterial infections making diabetics more prone to infection. Limiting your intake of highly processed or sweet foods may help to stabilise your blood sugar levels.
Psychological stress contributes to lower levels of the immunoglobulin secretory IgA (sIgA). SIgA is an antibody that plays a crucial role in the immune function of mucous membranes and is the first line of defence against bacterial infections in the urinary tract (and the gut too!).
Hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and the use of the oral contraceptive pill are known to contribute to a greater incidence of vaginal thrush with increased levels of oestrogen the likely cause.
Antibiotic use promotes a more favourable environment for opportunistic ‘bad’ bacteria to thrive. This imbalance of microflora increases the risk of yeast infections.
Wiping from front to back after going to the toilet helps to prevent pathogenic species of bacteria from reaching the vagina and urinary tract via translocation from the bowel. Additionally, urinating after sexual intercourse and wearing cotton underwear can help to prevent infection. Females should also avoid using soaps near the vagina when washing as this may upset the pH balance, which is another line of defence against pathogens.
Simple strategies for avoiding infection or reducing the symptoms of a UTI:
Drink plenty of water (aim for at least 2L)
Drink unsweetened cranberry juice (aim for half a litre/day)
Exclude all simple sugars, full-strength fruit juice, refined carbohydrates and alcohol
Eat prebiotic and probiotic foods such as yoghurt, kefir, miso, oats and sauerkraut
Add immune-boosting foods to your meals such as garlic and onions
An effective treatment may be sitting in the crisper of your refrigerator…
Corn silk or Zea Mays is the silk found inside the husk of an ear of corn. A tea of corn silk soothes the lining of the entire urinary tract and flushes the kidney and bladder. These actions are particularly soothing for acute and chronic cystitis (bacteria in the bladder).
You can make organic corn silk tea at home by following these simple steps:
To make your tea simply pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1/3 – 1/2 cup of the fresh corn silk (organic is best) and leave to draw for 5 minutes. Strain and drink up to five cups during the day if the infection is acute/active.
If not treated properly urinary tract infections can cause substantial kidney scarring. It is therefore important to see a health professional if you suspect that you have a UTI or if you experience recurring urinary infections. Early diagnosis and treatment may help you to avoid greater suffering and more serious complications.
Yours in happiness and health,