Urinary tract infections are a painful condition that will affect as many as 50 percent of all women during their lifetime, but incorporating certain foods and beverages -- such as blueberries and blueberry juice -- may be helpful for preventing UTIs.
Urinary Tract Infection Basics
Though urinary tract infections can be caused by a number of factors, they often result from the transfer of Escherichia coli into the urinary tract -- which can occur when wiping from back to front after a bowel movement. Urinary tract infections cause pain during urination, the need to urinate more often and lower abdominal cramping. When left untreated, UTIs may cause serious long-term consequences, including kidney disease.
Blueberries for Prevention
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, blueberries may prevent urinary tract infections. A 1998 study published in "The New England Journal of Medicine" suggests that specific compounds found in blueberries -- called proanthocyanidins -- prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that large amounts of vitamin C also inhibit the growth of bacteria in the urinary tract. One cup of raw blueberries provides about 15 milligrams of vitamin C -- or 20 percent of the daily intake the Institute of Medicine recommends for women.
Blueberry Juice Offers Similar Benefits
Even if you choose not to eat blueberries, you may still be able to harness the benefits of this fruit by drinking it as a juice. As with raw blueberries, blueberry juice is a rich source of vitamin C and proanthocyanidins. The extra fluids provided by blueberry juice may also be effective when it comes to flushing bacteria from the urinary tract. Choose unsweetened blueberry juice for optimal results.
If you develop a urinary tract infection despite eating blueberries or drinking blueberry juice, seek medical attention. Getting UTIs more than three times in a year may be a sign of a serious underlying health condition that requires specialized treatment. Let your doctor know you are consuming blueberries and blueberry juice to avoid potential medication interactions.
Is This an Emergency?
- Office on Women's Health: Urinary Tract Infection Fact Sheet
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Urinary Tract Infection in Women
- The New England Journal of Medicine: Inhibition of the Adherence of P-Fimbriated Escherichia coli to Uroepithelial-Cell Surfaces by Proanthocyanidin Extracts from Cranberries
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Blueberries, Raw
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C
- Lakewood Organic Fresh Pressed: Organic Blueberry, Pure