Natural Approaches to Urinary Tract Health
Updated: Jan 31, 2019
There are times when it feels like biology is destiny. And when it comes to women and urinary tract infections (UTI), there's some truth to that age-old observation. A woman's chance of contracting at least one UTI over her lifetime is close to 50%; once you've had a UTI, you know exactly what it is, how unpleasant and painful it can be and you'll do whatever you can to prevent another occurrence.
Here's an overview of the urinary system, how it flushes out waste, and how to help prevent infections:
The kidneys sit just below your rib cage on either side of the spine. They play a major role in the body's detox process, helping flush waste from the body through urination. Every day, the kidneys draw out about 1-2 quarts of urine for every 120-150 quarts of blood.
The ureters are thin muscular tubes on each side of your bladder that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
Located in the pelvic region, the bladder is a hollow, muscular organ that expands as it fills with urine. Once full, it sends a signal to the brain, and we sense it's time to urinate. It can hold up to two cups of urine. However, every person is different in terms of how often they produce and hold urine and how frequently they urinate.
During urination, the bladder empties through the urethra, located at the bottom of the bladder. The muscles of the pelvic region, the bladder muscles, and the urethra work together like a dam to hold urine between trips to the restroom.
When bacteria travel up the urethra into the bladder, this may cause a urinary tract infection. The most common type of bacteria found in UTIs is the E. coli bacteria. If the infection spreads to the kidneys and ureters this can cause an upper UTI or pyelonephritis; left untreated it can affect other body systems and lead to serious health problems.
Recurrent UTI are common among 20% of women, with many women experiencing three or more infections a year. The typical treatment is antibiotics, but long-term use increases the likelihood that those medicines won't work against future infections.
Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Urinary Tract:
Maintain healthy flora in the body.
Proper balance of microbial flora is not only important for GI function but for other systems too, such as the urinary system. Consider adding fermented foods to your diet and/or taking a probiotic supplement. Check with your practitioner about the one best suited to your concerns.
Fluid intake, especially water, is vital to the health of the urinary tract. Water helps flush bacteria and other waste products from your body. The typical recommendation is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water (e.g., body weight = 140 lbs., water intake = 70 oz. daily). Check with your doctor on the proper amount for you.
Detox your Diet.
You may not think of sugar, caffeine, nicotine, or packaged food as toxic, but they have no nutritive value. Regular use of these items stresses the systems designed to cleanse and preserve the integrity of your health.
Darker Berries have Exceptional Health Benefits.
We all know that berries are good for us. But did you know that dark berries can have as much as 50% more antioxidants compared to their lighter colored cousins?
Antioxidants, which include vitamin C, help protect against free radicals (scavenger molecules that damage healthy cells in your body). Eating berries can protect your urinary tract health with the added bonuses of lowering risk for certain cancers and promoting healthy aging
Blueberry & Cranberry, both the berry and the juice, help reduce inflammation and are beneficial for preventing and treating recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections. They contain a powerful antioxidant (proanthocyanidin, or PAC) and D-mannose which can prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. Blueberry is easier to prepare and digest compared to cranberry. For people who don't like or can't digest cranberries, a PAC or D-mannose supplement may be a better option.
Boysenberry is a hybrid of blackberry, loganberry and raspberry. It's juicy and sweet with a bit of tang and contains vitamins C and K, folate, and manganese, which play an important role in immunity, anti-inflammatory response, digestive and cardiovascular health.
Elderberry, an immunity-boosting berry, is packed with vitamins C, A, B6 and iron and potassium. It's on the tart side, but can be sweetened with organic honey and is commonly used to make teas and jam. The flavonoids in elderberry compare to Tamiflu, an anti-influenza medication.
Supplements and Herbs
There are many natural products to support your urinary tract health that should be tailored to your specific needs. Contact MWS for holistic, individualized treatments.
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