A new study confirms what women and doctors have known for a long time: cranberries prevent urinary tract infections. The benefits of cranberries for UTIs have recently been debated, but if you’re someone who relies on them for prevention of those incredibly annoying infections, the research seems to say keep on keepin’ on.
As a broke college student, I would always flood my system with cranberry juice once I felt that telltale prickle-burn of a UTI. Looking back, it probably would have been smarter to see a doctor (or at least buy the non-incredibly-sugary cranberry juice!), but my symptoms usually went away quickly, within a day or so. Blisstree’s own Dr. Natasha Turner recommends cranberries as a natural remedy for preventing urinary tract infections.
And according to this new report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who consume cranberries are up to 38% less likely to develop a UTI. Alice Park at TIME writes:
The researchers could not determine how cranberry may protect against infection, but suggest that future studies focus on a compound called A-type proanthocyanidins, which are known to block the ability of E. coli, a common cause of UTI, to stick to mucosal walls.
Study author Dr. Chien-Chang Lee, of National Taiwan University Hospital, said cranberry juice is more effective than taking tablets:
This benefit might come from the additive or synergistic effect of unknown substances in the juice, which are devoid in cranberry capsules or tablets. Therefore, we recommend cranberry juice rather than cranberry tablets/capsules in prevention of UTIs despite its side effects.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you should guzzle cranberry juice, though. He also said:
People taking cranberry juice for a long time might suffer from gastrointestinal upset. Cranberry capsules or tablets might prevent this side effect.
Overall, it seems like science is starting to affirm that eating cranberries is a good prevention strategy for UTIs. Cranberries are not, however, a treatment for them (ahem, 20-year-old me!). Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, commented, “when you have a UTI, you have to treat it with antibiotics.”