Let’s talk urinary tract infections (UTIs).
It’s not really daily conversation (especially not dinner conversation) however they do happen and should be discussed. Many people experience UTIs especially women due to our anatomical makeup (our shorter urethra if you were tying to picture it!).
Not only that, UTIs can be really frustrating, painful and impact your quality of life.
Burning, scalding, increased frequency, pressure in badder region, and smelly or cloudy urine can or may be experienced.
They can be linked to your menstrual cycle or happen for a period of your life like your 20s or during menopause. They can be linked to oestrogen fluctuations and are also linked to your immune function and gut health.
UTIs are something that cannot be left ignored. If untreated, a UTI can cause a kidney infection which can have significant consequences.
A lot of people I see in my mobile clinic experience UTIs but do not seek assistance for these and this can be a sign of larger immune dysregulation and inflammation.
All of my clients who present with a current UTI or recent past infection undergo a urinalysis which is an analysis of the components of your urine to look for current infection or an underlying chronic infection. It’s relatively quick (you just need to pee into a cup) and then I use a dip stick to check what is present in your urine for example proteins, acidity, glucose, blood, ketones etc.
If you are suffer from UTIs, there are a wide range of diet and lifestyle changes you can make at home to avoid an infection:
Avoiding soaps and body washes as these can disrupt the pH of the area.
Wear cotton underwear that is breathable.
Ensure to urinate after sexual intercourse, the sooner the better.
Showering promptly after exercise.
Wiping from front to back during toilet visits.
Looking at your gut health - in both our urinary and digestive systems we want a lot of Lactobacillus spp. as these prevent opportunistic infections from occurring. If you have had a recent course of antibiotics or feel your gut health needs support, you may need to help it out with some specific strains of probiotics that support the growth of Lactobacillus spp.
Look at an anti-inflammatory diet - foods that cause digestive upsets, bloating, gas are inflammatory to not only your digestive system, but systemically to your entire body including your urinary system
Try having cranberries (fresh or organic dried) as a tea - steep in boiling water for 5 minutes then you can drink the tea and also eat the berries!
Support you reproductive cycle. If you are having regular infections, see a health care practitioner to see if there are any links to your reproductive cycle and oestrogen production.
Cranberry supplements can be beneficial however you need to purchase a supplement with standardised bioactive proanthocyanidins (PACs) as these are the phytonutrients that stop the bacteria from adhering to your urinary tract walls
Drink water! The last thing you want to do when you have a urinary tract infection is drink however to flush away the bacteria, you need to drink water and lots of it! A minimum of 2L daily is recommended.
Look at your stress management, stress has major impacts in our body and in particular on our immune system. Ensuring your stress is managed is a key focus and needs to be supported.
If you are suffering from urinary tract infections and need support, book in for some assistance. UTIs can be supported with herbal medicine in addition to nutritional supplementation to reduce severity, incidence and to strengthen your immune system to stop those pesky opportunistic infections.