Cranberry and UTIs: Fact or Myth?

Cranberry and UTIs: Fact or Myth?

About 60% of women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their life. So, the odds are not in our favor. Many will turn to cranberry as a home remedy for relief. Why?

Previously, scientists thought that cranberries protected against UTIs by making urine more acidic, which is less friendly to bacteria like Escherichia coli (E. coli) that are usually to blame. But now, researchers have a different theory: that cranberries make it harder for infection-causing bacteria to stick to the urinary tract walls. It’s debated whether nutrients in cranberries change the bacteria so that they can't stick to the urinary tract or that cranberries create a slippery coating on the urinary tract walls that makes it hard for E. coli to get a good grip.

Either way, we’re thrilled that they help—thanks cranberries!

What is this magical ingredient found in cranberry?

Urologist Courtenay Moore, MD, explains it like this, “There is an active ingredient in cranberries that can prevent adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall, particularly E. coli.

This is fantastic news because for a UTI to occur, bacteria must adhere to and invade the lining of the bladder. Cranberries contain A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs), which interfere with the bacteria’s ability to the bladder wall, reducing the likelihood of infection.

PACs 101

 Proanthocyanidins, or PAC for short, are tannins (stable polyphenols) found only in vaccinium berries and function as a natural plant defense system against microbes. The current hypothesis is that cranberries work principally by preventing the adhesion of type 1 and p-fimbriae strains (particularly from E. coli) to the urothelium. Without adhesion, the bacteria cannot infect the mucosal surface. In vitro, this adhesion is mediated by two components of cranberries: fructose, which inhibits the adherence of type 1 fimbriae, and PAC, which inhibits the adherence of p-fimbriae.

Basically, the fructose, or naturally occurring sugar in cranberry, as well as the PACs help to inhibit the bacteria from attaching to the surface of our bladders.

How much cranberry do I need?

This question is a little tricky. “Most of the studies suggest that juice and supplements don’t have enough of this active ingredient (A-type proanthocyanidins) to prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract.” - Moore, MD.

Dr. Boone further explains: “It takes an extremely large concentration of cranberry to prevent bacterial adhesion. This amount of concentration is not found in the juices we drink. There’s a possibility it was stronger back in our grandparents’ day, but definitely not in modern times.”

Okay, so if we definitely know it’s not in adequate amounts in our juice—which typically has added sugar anyway—are supplements the right choice? The problem here is that the amount of the active ingredient that each product contains is not necessarily consistent. Therefore, products might not have enough of the active ingredient we’re seeking to be effective in the prevention of bacteria sticking to the bladder wall. Another thing to keep in mind is that the supplement industry isn’t regulated by the FDA. It’s up to consumers to do their own research to make sure they’re getting the product they’re paying for.

How UTI Cleanse & Protect is different

We decided that enough is enough and bladder health is worthy of being taken care of because UTIs aren’t fun. And antibiotic resistance is real, wreaks havoc on our gut microbiome, and you know us, we’re always after a super-powerful, potent, plant-based alternative.

Quick facts about other cranberry UTI products:

  • Sometimes the PACs used are bound up in the lining of the cranberry skin
  • These can’t easily dissolve in water, so your body doesn’t absorb them, and they don’t reach your bladder

Quick facts about our cranberry UTI product:

  • Our cranberry extract is made only from cranberry juice, so we know the PACs dissolve in water
  • We wrap the cranberry extract in a special fat bubble called liposome, so it’s better absorbed
  • Ours binds to the biofilm in the bladder 

In a clinical study, a group of people was fed our cranberry extract and then measured how effective their urine was at binding to biofilms and preventing biofilm growth. Within 12 hours, urine with our cranberry extract was able to significantly inhibit biofilm growth. It doesn’t just make it through your body, but it is the only cranberry extract shown to actually affect biofilm growth in urine.

Our super special, not-so-secret ingredient

We put hibiscus in our UTI supplement. Why? It’s actually long been used in countries like Africa and Asia for the treatment of UTIs. It is described as being mucilaginous, which suggests that it may help to coat and soothe the urinary tract and prevent bacteria from clinging to it. It’s almost like cranberries and hibiscus were destined to be besties.

The compounds in hibiscus responsible for some of these benefits are called calyces. The calyx contains significant amounts of polyphenols, flavonoids, sambubioanthocyanidins, proanthocyanidins, and chlorogenic acids, which were reported by several studies to possess excellent antimicrobial activity against bacteria like E. coli, Staphylococcus, Bacillus subtilis, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Hibiscus sabdariffa ​is also traditionally known for its anti-oxidative properties, thanks to the very high content in bioflavonoids and anthocyanins, especially hibiscin, which has also been proven to be useful in the prevention of UTIs. A University College London (UCL) School of Pharmacy review published in the journal, Food Chemistry, examined phytochemical and pharmacological research on Hibiscus sabdariffa​. Several in vitro and in vivo studies have shown a potent antioxidant effect due to its “strong scavenging effect on reactive oxygen and free radicals”.

Through our research, we were able to find that there are compounds in cranberry that have been studied and can be used to effectively prevent UTIs. As a consumer, you need to be aware of how much of that active ingredient is in what you’re taking and how it’s formulated—juice vs. supplement. We made sure ours is packed with a full spectrum of cranberry polyphenols in addition to hibiscus which has tons of vitamin C for immunity and is a gentle diuretic loaded with antioxidants to help flush your system! Hibiscus is also helpful in preventing kidney stones! Stop suffering in silence and say goodbye to UTIs by grabbing a bottle, or two, of our Urinary Cleanse & Protect and take it daily for prevention or as needed.

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