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Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common infections affecting men and women today. An infection in any part of the urinary system (bladder, urethra or kidneys) is referred to as UTI.
Although just anyone can catch an UTI, women are more susceptible to UTIs. One in five women will have at least one UTI in her lifetime, say reports by the National Kidney Foundation. This is because women have shorter urethras, due to which bacteria can quickly gain access to the bladder.
Causes Of An UTI
A bladder infection occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract. Bacteria such as E. coli from the large intestine can escape the anus and invade the urethra, and even travel up to the bladder. In case the infection is left untreated, it can also infect the kidneys.
While people with pre-diabetes are often prone to UTIs, having unprotected sex is another reason for bacteria to invade the urinary tract. So is the case when you control your urge to urinate for too long. In case of UTIs in women, there are several other reasons too such as abnormal shape of the urinary tract, use of contraceptives, genetic predisposition, hormone changes during pregnancy or menopause, etc.
Not everyone with UTI has all of these symptoms, but to identify a UTI, watch out for a few of the following symptoms:
• Urgency to urinate, accompanied by pain during urination
• Blood in urine, cloudy urine, burning sensation when urinating
• Nausea, back pain and fever with chills
• Pain or pressure in your lower abdomen
• Frequent small amounts of urination
Foods To Avoid When You Have UTI
The common treatment of UTI is with antibiotics. Although UTIs are treatable, the biggest trouble is that they are recurrent. Whether it is your first or fifth infection, your goal should be to prevent recurrence in the first place.
Experts suggest that you should avoid certain foods and drinks that irritate the lining of the urinary tract further and worsen UTI symptoms. Yes, you may have to tweak your diet a bit, if you are prone to catching UTIs.
Let us take a look at the kind of foods you should avoid in case you don't want to catch recurrent infections:
While you would love to welcome your mornings with a cup of tea or coffee, it is best to avoid caffeine if you are prone to UTIs, as it is known to irritate the bladder and worsen symptoms. This is a proven fact in studies conducted on people with chronic bladder inflammation. Instead, why not try a mug of herbal tea in place of your usual morning cuppa?
Just as is the case with tea and coffee, the same goes with alcohol too. Steer clear of beer, wine and liquor, as they irritate your stomach and bladder when you have an infection. Although it is necessary to drink plenty of fluids when you have an UTI, replace caffeine and alcohol with water and cranberry juice as you are trying to recover from an infection.
3. Sweetened Beverages
It is best to avoid sweetened commercial juices and beverages with soda, as they contain substances that can leave a negative impact when you are fighting an infection. Sugary foods actually feed the bacteria further and can slow down the healing process. Go for homemade natural diuretic fruit juices instead.
4. Citrus Fruits
Did I say go for homemade natural fruit juices? But, you should take care to avoid citrus fruits when you are fighting an infection, as they worsen UTI symptoms, as they contain a lot of acids. This is because bacteria feed on sugar and thrive in acidic environments. Therefore, better to avoid citrus fruits if you wish to improve your UTI.
5. Spicy Food
Spicy foods are known to irritate the bladder and worsen the UTI symptoms when you already have an UTI. So stay away from all things spicy and no more additional topping on your food with chilli flakes. Just as is the case with citrus fruits, spicy foods too increase acid levels in the body, thereby making it easier for the bacteria to breed in the body.
6. Diet High In Animal Protein
Cut down on animal protein as steaks, grilled meats and hamburgers fall in the list of 'must-avoid' foods. This is because they make the body acidic, allowing the bacteria to thrive, rather than die. You can substitute them with fish, if you like.
7. Refined Flour
It is important to mention here that breads made of refined white flour, pasta and pizza also fall into the category of forbidden foods for UTIs. We all know that refined flour does not do any good to our overall health. But when you have an UTI, it is particularly important to avoid it, as your body converts it into sugars, thereby feeding the bacteria further.
So, while you make sure that you avoid the above-mentioned foods if you suffer from UTI symptoms, you also need to keep note of the following to prevent recurrent episodes of UTI thereafter:
• Maintain genital hygiene
• Wear only cotton undergarments
• Do not control the urge to urinate
• Drink plenty of fluids
• Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice or blueberry juice, unsweetened yogurt may help
• Stay away from hygiene sprays, scented douches and bath products.