Your urinary tract is a network of organs that produces, stores and eliminates fluid, toxins and other substances from your body. While a healthy urinary tract serves you well by reducing your risk for certain diseases and helping you to recovery faster from illnesses you acquire, an injured, infected or diseased urinary tract can cause pain, frequent urination and other problems. In addition to proper hygiene and medical treatments, when necessary, a nutritious diet can help heighten urinary health.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are prime sources of antioxidants -- nutrients that promote your body's ability to defend itself from infections and disease. According to a report published in the "Scandinavian Journal of Urology and Nephrology" in September 2008, yellow-orange vegetables, carrots in particular, cruciferous vegetables and citrus fruits, provide protection from bladder cancer. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Blueberries and cranberries contain substances that may help keep harmful bacteria from binding to your bladder tissue and prevent or reduce UTI symptoms. (See References 2) Unsweetened cranberry juice may provide similar benefits.
Yogurt and Kefir
Yogurt and kefir contain helpful, or "friendly," bacteria called probiotics. According to "Basic Health Publications User's Guide to Probiotics" by Earl Mindell, probiotics help restore proper bacterial balance in your urinary tract and inhibit the growth of potentially illness-causing toxins. Because of these attributes, consuming yogurt and/or kefir routinely may help prevent fungal infections and other infections in your urinary tract. While additional research is needed, according to Mindell, consuming probiotics during the course of antibiotic treatment -- a common UTI and yeast infection trigger -- may lower your risk for infections. For best results, select yogurt and kefir that list "live active cultures," such as L. acidophilus, as ingredients.
Whole grains are grain that have retained all fiber and nutrient-rich parts of the grain. Consuming more fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, and fewer refined foods, such as white bread, may help reduce UTI symptoms, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Whole grains also provide antioxidants, such as vitamin E and selenium, which may provide protection from bladder cancer and other illnesses. Examples of nutritious whole grain foods include 100 percent whole grain breads, pasta and cold cereals, steel-cut oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, pearled barley, quinoa and air-popped popcorn. To lower your risk for certain forms of kidney stones -- hard, often severely painful, deposits in your urinary tract -- replace salty snacks, such as potato chips and pretzels, with whole grains.
Legumes, such as beans, lentils and split peas, are some of the top dietary sources of fiber. As protein-rich foods, they also provide nutritious alternatives to meat and seafood. While meat and seafood can suit a typical healthy diet, animal-derived protein can increase uric acid levels in your diet -- a risk factor for uric acid kidney stones. MayoClinic.com recommends limiting protein in your diet as one useful dietary step for preventing kidney stones. Nutritious legume-based dishes include lentil soup, split pea soup, low-fat vegetarian chili and burgers, chilled bean salad, hummus and edamame -- steamed soybeans.