If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, you know the burning isn’t fun. These infections can last one to two days in the bladder and a week or so in the kidneys, and sometimes antibiotics are needed to get rid of the bacteria causing the issue.
While medicine is the best bet for many people, if you’re experiencing reoccurring UTIs, it might be a good idea to look at the foods you eat and see if there’s a way to tweak them to help prevent and fight infections.
If you’re interested, read through this list of the 15 best foods for UTI prevention and healing. At the end of this article, I’ll share a few snack ideas that you can use to build your own UTI diet around.
Foods For UTI Prevention
Cranberries and cranberry juice have a great reputation for helping prevent or treat urinary tract infections. This could be because cranberries contain a compound that keeps bacteria from sticking to or invading the walls of the urinary tract, including the bladder, so infections are avoided.
You need a lot of cranberries to avoid infection, though. The best results come when people who are likely to get UTIs to take cranberry capsules, which are quite concentrated. Cranberry juices can help hydrate UTI patients and keep their urinary tract flushed out, but they aren’t concentrated enough to provide the compound that keeps bacteria from growing in the urinary tract.
When it comes to UTIs, tomatoes have a mixed review. Some sources suggest that foods high in antioxidants, with a slightly acidic taste, could help prevent UTIs, and tomatoes fall into that category. This works because these foods help maintain a healthy Ph in your urinary tract, so infection-causing bacteria can’t grow there. The vitamin C found in these foods could help keep inflammation down and boost the immune system to fight bacteria, too.
However, once you’ve got a UTI, eating acid foods could irritate your urinary tract and make a UTI more painful. In this case, it could be a good idea to use antibiotics until the pain goes away and then add tomatoes, oranges, and other acidic foods back into your diet.
Yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt, is a good food option for people who routinely struggle with UTIs because it helps to build a healthy microbiome. Some doctors suggest using probiotics like the good bacteria found in yogurt to help keep the urinary tract clear, especially with patients who have concerns about antibiotic resistance.
Some research indicates that eating yogurt could decrease the risk of UTIs by 80%. Other fermented foods that could help to treat or prevent UTIs include sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and pickles. Most fermented foods contain Lactobacillus strains of good bacteria. Probiotics can also be taken in pill form.
Garlic is often used as a flavoring for main dishes, side dishes, and condiments. It’s more than just a simple spice, though. Garlic has several health benefits that include treating atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, the prevention of some types of cancer, high blood pressure, and liver injury.
It’s also got anti-bacterial and anti-microbial effects, which could help it fight UTIs effectively. One compound found in garlic, called diallyl sulfide, was 100 times more effective than two antibiotics in treating a common type of intestinal infection. Garlic’s antimicrobial effects appear to work very well in fighting UTIs.
Blueberries contain proanthocyanins, the same compound in cranberries that keeps bacteria from implanting in the bladder wall and causing UTIs. They’re also high in vitamin C, which helps reduce inflammation and boosts the immune system. Overall, blueberries are high in disease-fighting antioxidants that could help prevent UTIs.
One nice thing about blueberries is that they’re not as tart as cranberries are. They make a great sweetener in smoothies, and they’re fun to add to salads or to mix into bread and muffins. They can also be purchased fresh, canned, dried, or frozen, so they can add a lot of variety to your meals.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is relatively high in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to keep the Ph in the urinary tract balanced, so that bacteria can’t grow there. It also boosts the immune system so that the body can fight off infections when they do occur. One cup of chopped broccoli contains 90% of the daily recommended intake for vitamin C.
Broccoli is also rich in folate, which some sources associate with lower risks of getting UTIs. A cup of broccoli contains 14% of the daily recommendation for folate, along with 10% for pantothenic acid, which has some anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that could be useful in preventing UTIs.
Dark chocolate is on the list of UTI-fighting foods because, like broccoli and blueberries, it’s rich in antioxidants. Some of the compounds in cocoa, called flavanols, are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and help protect against free radicals.
However, dark chocolate should be used sparingly, both because it’s generally a sweet food, and because it’s also relatively rich in both copper and iron. These minerals are important for several body functions but could also be utilized by the bacteria that cause UTIs. If you’re in doubt, switch out your dark chocolate snack for some dried blueberries or fresh broccoli.
Like blueberries, raspberries are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other compounds that support overall health and help fight infections. They’re particularly high in vitamin C (one cup contains 53% of the daily recommended intake), which helps prevent infection-causing bacteria from growing in the urinary tract. They also contain a decent amount of water, which helps to flush out the urinary tract and keep it healthy.
One interesting thing about raspberries is that they also contain a decent amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which could help reduce inflammation when you’re experiencing a UTI. One cup of fresh raspberries contains 155 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
Ginger is well known as both a spice and food that has some specific health benefits, including helping with most forms of nausea, as well as boosting heart health, preventing cancer, and helping with blood sugar levels.
Gingerol, one of the most potent compounds found in ginger, is anti-inflammatory, and it has antioxidant properties, too. Besides reducing inflammation during a UTI, ginger has been associated with inhibiting the growth of bacteria, so it could help prevent and fight infections. Some sources suggest that chewing ginger, eating it in foods, or drinking ginger tea can be powerful home remedies for dealing with UTIs.
As a green leafy vegetable, spinach is a healing food that can help out with a variety of different conditions. It’s rich in several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, that plays a role in the health of the urinary tract. One cup of raw spinach contains 9% of the daily recommended intake for vitamin C.
This serving size also provides 15% of the daily recommendation for folate and 16% for vitamin A. Vitamin A is important because supplementing with vitamin A has been shown to improve clinical symptoms of UTIs in some cases. Spinach is also a good source for vitamins K, E, and several of the B vitamins, and it provides some minerals, including zinc, which could be helpful for treating UTIs.
Like cranberries and blueberries, pomegranate juice is full of antioxidants, which help keep bacteria from infecting the walls of the urinary tract. Pomegranate juice is also a good source of pantothenic acid, which could be useful for helping treat UTIs. One cup of pomegranate juice contains 14% of the recommended daily intake for pantothenic acid.
Pomegranate juice is also a good source of vitamins K, E, B6, and folate, as well as potassium. One cup of pomegranate juice contains 11% of the daily recommendation for potassium. This is important because many people who get UTIs also have low potassium levels.
Bananas help out with UTIs in a surprising way. Because bananas are relatively high in fiber, they encourage regular elimination, which reduces pressure on the urinary tract. One medium banana contains 21% of the daily recommended intake for fiber. It’s also high in the type of fiber that promotes a healthy microbiome, which could also help protect against urinary tract infections.
Bananas also contain some vitamins and minerals that could help fight UTIs. One medium banana contains 17% of the daily recommendation for potassium, as well as 11% for folate, 22% for vitamin C, and 3% for zinc. Besides eating them raw, you can mix them in salads or bake them in cookies or banana bread.
As a citrus fruit, lemons are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to maintain a healthy Ph in the urinary tract, so bacteria can’t grow well there. When infections do occur, vitamin C can act as an anti-inflammatory agent to reduce swelling and pain.
Some sources suggest that drinking lemon water can prevent urinary tract infections and kidney stones. However, some other sources say that drinking lemon juice when you already have a UTI can worsen symptoms. It may be best to drink lemon water as a preventive measure rather than as a cure for urinary tract infections.
Pears are high in both water and fiber. One cup of fresh pear slices contains 14% of the daily recommended intake for fiber. Like bananas, the fiber found in pears is prebiotic, meaning it helps to create a healthy digestive microbiome. It also helps prevent UTIs by promoting regular bowel movements.
At the same time, pears are high in a compound called malic acid. Malic acid has some antioxidant effects and could help prevent the formation of stones in the urinary tract, including the kidneys. Pears also provide some vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C and K, as well as potassium and zinc.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has mixed reviews when it comes to UTIs. Like lemon juice and tomatoes, apple cider vinegar is best used as a preventive measure. It can be taken in water several times a day to keep the urinary tract free of bacteria that could cause infections. Some sources indicate that once you have an infection, drinking apple cider vinegar could worsen your UTI symptoms.
However, other sources suggest continuing to drink apple cider vinegar, and some sources even suggest the idea of bathing in it.
Three UTI-Friendly Snacks
Idea #1: Fruit And Veggie Dips
Many fruits and vegetables are ideal for dealing with UTIs because they contain water, which helps flush out toxins, and they could be rich in vitamin C, as well. To make the most of this strategy, slice fruits and veggies and then create your own dip made from Greek yogurt and garlic, ginger, or other spices.
Idea #2: Spinach Salad
Spinach makes an easy salad base, and you can add almost anything you want to it to make it taste and feel terrific. UTI-friendly toppings could include blueberries, raspberries, pear slices, and Greek yogurt.
Idea #3: Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Bananas
For this treat, slice a banana and then melt some dark chocolate (at least 50% cacao). Using a toothpick, dip the banana slices into the dark chocolate until they’re covered, and then set them on a tray lined with waxed paper. Once they’ve set, you can transfer them into a container and store them in the freezer for a tasty summertime dessert.