LIFESTYLE
17/07/2013 07:43 BST | Updated 17/07/2013 07:46 BST

Cranberries Can Actually Help Prevent Bladder Infections - It's Not A Myth

We're no strangers to sharing a look with a woman stockpiling cranberry juice in the supermarket (in the mutual understanding that it's to help with a bladder infection) but it turns out that there actually is sound reasoning behind it.

It's not just women who suffer from bladder infections - thousands of patients develop post-surgery complications from catheters because they provide a pathway for bugs to enter the skin.

A new study from the Canadian Journal of Microbiology and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces revealed that cranberry powder can inhibit the bacterium Proteus mirabilis, a bug commonly found in complicated urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Chemicals in cranberries actually alter bacterial behaviour by reducing bacteria's production of urease, an enzyme which is a factor in the infection.

cranberry juice

Professor Nathalie Tufenkji, of McGill University, Montreal, said: 'While the effects of cranberry in living organisms remain subject to further study, our findings highlight the role cranberry consumption might play in the prevention of chronic infections.

'More than 150 million cases of UTI (urinary tract infection) are reported globally each year, and antibiotic treatment remains the standard approach for managing these infections.

Some studies have suggested cranberries work by hindering bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, thanks to chemicals known as PACs (proanthocyanidins).

However, before you go buying a six pack of juice cartons - how you ingest the cranberries is just as important. Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, nutritional consultant Alice Mackintosh, from The Food Doctor said: "Cranberries are good but cranberry juice is very sweet, and actually if you have an infection, the bacteria in the blood feeds off the sugar. They are very bitter to eat raw, so what people need to do is have unsweetened cranberry juice. Better still, take cranberry tablets because it contains the extracts, is more potent and doesn't contain all of the sugar. Regarding juice, you don't want to be drinking more than a couple of glasses a day."

Cranberries are also great for your immunity - research from the University of Florida suggested that drinking cranberry juice for two months can boost your immune system.

Alice added: "It's high in antioxidants, and good for immunity, which is exactly what you need when you have an infection because that already suggests your immune system isn't working as well as it should do."