Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common bacterial infections that affect the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. UTIs can be extremely uncomfortable and painful. Staying hydrated is important for flushing out bacteria and preventing UTIs from developing or worsening.
Certain beverages may be more beneficial than others for helping to treat and prevent painful UTIs. This article explores different drink options that can support urinary tract health and reduce UTI symptoms.
Drinking plenty of water is one of the simplest ways to help prevent and treat UTIs. Water helps dilute urine so that bacteria can be flushed out of the urinary tract more easily. Staying hydrated also prompts more frequent urination, which eliminates bacteria before infection can occur.
Drinking adequate water may help reduce UTI recurrence in women who are prone to frequent infections. One study in older women found that urinary incontinence and UTIs were reduced by nearly 50% when participants increased their daily fluid intake to meet recommended guidelines.
Aim for around six to eight 8-ounce (240 ml) glasses of water per day to stay hydrated. Make sure to drink more water when sweating heavily, such as during exercise or hot weather. Drinking more water may also be helpful when taking certain medications like diuretics that increase urination.
Drinking cranberry juice is one of the most well-known natural remedies for treating UTIs. Cranberries contain compounds that may prevent E. coli and other bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract.
A 2016 research review found that regular consumption of cranberry juice can reduce the risk of recurrent UTIs by 26% compared to placebo drink. Cranberry juice may be especially beneficial for women with recurrent infections.
opt for pure, unsweetened cranberry juice rather than juice cocktails that are loaded with sugar. Cranberry juice has a very tart, sour taste, so mixing it with water can help dilute the flavor.
Drink one 8-ounce (240 ml) glass of cranberry juice per day as a UTI preventive aid. You can also take cranberry supplements in pill or powder form.
Like cranberries, blueberries have antibacterial properties that can help eliminate UTI-causing bacteria like E. coli. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants called proanthocyanidins that may prevent bacteria from binding to the walls of the bladder.
Animal research shows that blueberry extract can reduce bacterial growth in the urinary tract and protect against UTIs. An older study in women found that drinking blueberry juice for six months extended the time between UTI episodes.
Enjoy a small glass of blueberry juice daily. Look for unsweetened varieties or blend fresh or frozen blueberries into water or cranberry juice.
Kefir is fermented milk containing probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that promote urinary tract health. The probiotics in kefir can help destroy harmful bacteria while maintaining a healthy balance of microorganisms in the urinary system.
Studies demonstrate that probiotics reduce recurrent UTIs, especially in women. A review of 10 studies found that probiotic strains like Lactobacillus reduced UTI recurrence compared to antibiotic treatment alone.
Try incorporating a few ounces of kefir or other probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kimchi and kombucha into your diet daily. Choose plain, unsweetened varieties whenever possible.
Sulforaphane, a compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli sprouts, possesses powerful infection-fighting abilities. Sulforaphane may inhibit bacterial adhesion, reducing the ability of E. coli to cling to bladder cells and cause UTIs.
Animal and test-tube studies demonstrate that sulforaphane extracts help fight UTIs by eliminating pathogens. However, more research is needed on broccoli sprout supplements in humans.
Add fresh broccoli sprouts to salads, sandwiches and noodle dishes. You can also try broccoli sprout powder or supplements after discussing proper dosage with your healthcare provider.
Some sources claim that drinking lemon water helps change the pH of urine to fight infection. However, research shows lemon juice does not significantly alter urine acidity or UTIs when consumed in normal beverage amounts.
That being said, adding a squeeze of fresh lemon to water can help enhance flavor and increase your daily fluid intake. More research is needed to determine if lemon water provides UTI-fighting benefits.
Certain herbal teas may have antimicrobial properties that combat UTIs. Popular options include:
- Green tea: Contains antioxidants called catechins that may prevent E. coli growth.
- Bearberry leaf: Has antibacterial effects, especially against E. coli.
- Cocoa pods: Theobromine in cocoa may modify E. coli’s ability to adhere to the bladder.
- Marshmallow root: Soothes irritation and inflammation.
Drink a few cups of green tea, bearberry, cocoa pod tea or marshmallow root tea daily as a complementary UTI remedy. However, botanical supplements should not replace medical treatment for UTIs.
Dissolving baking soda in water is sometimes recommended as a DIY home remedy for urinary pain and burning associated with UTIs. Drinking baking soda is thought to neutralize urine acidity and help flush out bacteria.
However, research on baking soda for UTIs is lacking. There are also concerns about side effects from drinking high amounts of sodium. Occasionally using a small amount of baking soda water to help soothe symptoms is likely safe for most people.
Add no more than 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) of baking soda to water and drink slowly. Do not exceed 3 doses per day due to high sodium intake.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties and is claimed to fight UTIs by killing bacteria and acidifying urine. However, there is very limited evidence supporting the use of apple cider vinegar for UTIs.
A few lab studies suggest apple cider vinegar may combat E. coli, but human research is needed. Drinking diluted apple cider vinegar may be helpful paired with antibiotics, but should not replace UTI treatment by a healthcare professional.
Mix 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) apple cider vinegar into a glass of water. Start with 1 teaspoon (5 ml) to assess tolerance. Drink up to twice per day.
Other Fluid Options
Staying hydrated is key for UTI prevention and treatment. In addition to water, other healthy fluid choices include:
- Coconut water
- Decaffeinated tea
- Vegetable juice
- Chicken broth
- Skim milk
You can also eat hydrating fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as cucumbers, berries, lettuce, tomatoes and melons.
Fluids to Moderate or Avoid
Limiting or avoiding certain types of fluids may also be beneficial for UTI management:
- Alcohol: Irritates the bladder and dehydrates the body.
- Caffeine: Deters hydration and can worsen UTI symptoms.
- Sugary drinks: May encourage UTI-causing bacteria growth.
- Carbonated beverages: Can aggravate bladder inflammation and discomfort.
The Bottom Line
Using natural remedies can complement UTI antibiotic treatment and help prevent recurrent infections. Drinking juices, herbal teas, kefir, broths and plenty of water flushes out bacteria and soothes urinary discomfort.
Avoid bladder irritants like coffee, alcohol, carbonation and sugary drinks. See a healthcare provider if UTI symptoms do not improve within 1-2 days.
While some beverages may help, proper medical diagnosis and care is crucial for treating urinary tract infections.
Drink Recommendations for UTI Prevention and Treatment
|Water||6-8 glasses daily||Flushes bacteria, dilutes urine|
|Cranberry juice||8 oz daily||Prevents bacteria adhesion|
|Blueberry juice||8 oz daily||Contains antibacterial compounds|
|Kefir||4-6 oz daily||Provides probiotics|
|Green tea||2-3 cups daily||Antioxidant catechins inhibit bacteria|
|Lemon water||8 oz with lemon slice||Enhances hydration and flavor|
|Baking soda water||1/4 tsp in 8 oz water 3x daily||Soothes symptoms but use short-term|
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