Ask Gerda: Do Cranberries Forestall Urinary Tract Infections?


Gerda Endemann, our Senior Director of Science and Research, has a BS in Nutrition from UC Berkeley, a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from MIT and a passion for cherry picking in our wellness shop. She spends a lot of time interpreting research – both established and emerging. And our wellness routines thank her for that. (You too. Send us your own questions to Gerda: [email protected].)

In July 2020, the FDA announced that the following could be stated on the labels: Cranberry juice or nutritional supplements may help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). This is a big deal as the FDA rarely claims that diet or supplements could prevent disease.

However, the FDA was not wholeheartedly about the relationship between cranberry and UTIs. Here is the wording it approved: “Consuming one serving of cranberry juice drink per day can help reduce the risk of recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) in healthy women. The FDA has concluded that the scientific evidence to support this claim is limited and inconsistent. “Limited and Inconsistent Evidence? It’s not obvious what this means for the average person looking to prevent UTIs.

For most of my adult life, I thought that emptying your bladder before and after intercourse was the gold standard for preventing urinary tract infections. It seemed to work for me since my twenties. When I was on a camping trip in the Bay of Fundy, I developed an unbearable urinary tract infection – but isn’t that all? The doctor at the clinic asked if we would camp. He explained that bladder infections are common when camping as people avoid coming out of a nice warm tent to find a bathroom. He said all I had to do was pee after sex and I would be ready. What was also amazing: that advice – and the blessed antibiotic he gave me – was free. No insurance, no hassle, we love Canada.

When another member of our team did a thorough research on UTI for an article in our Goop PhD series, she found that we don’t have good evidence that peeing after sex is a panacea. Maybe doing something, but it’s not known to work for everyone.

One thing that has been linked to lower rates of urinary tract infection is drinking enough water, possibly due to the more frequent urination. You won’t want to drink water if it doesn’t taste good and it doesn’t appear clean. The solution to this is delicious water with reverse osmosis cleaning, and the AquaTru countertop cleaner is a perfect option for that. Keep the water clean and appealing in the self-cleaning Larq bottle that treats the water every two hours
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Urinary tract infections are one of the most common bacterial infections, especially in women, and are of growing concern because of the increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics. And these infections are very common.

It makes sense that cranberries can help prevent urinary tract infections because they contain proanthocyanidins, which can prevent bacteria from clinging to the bladder. The proanthocyanidins in cranberries have a unique structure that seems to block bacteria better than proanthocyanidins in other foods like chocolate and green tea.

The FDA evaluated five studies on cranberry juice and three on nutritional supplements. Some studies found that cranberry helped prevent UTIs and others didn’t. Did the results vary because different types of cranberry products were used in the studies or because cranberries affect different people differently? We do not know it. Some studies have reported significant benefits for children. It is likely that some people will benefit from eating cranberries and others will not – and we don’t know how to predict this.

For adults, a good daily dose appears to be 8 ounces or a little more cranberry drink, which typically contains around 27 percent cranberry juice. In dietary supplements, aim for 500 milligrams of cranberry or 36 to 72 milligrams of proanthocyanidins. One of our favorite herbal supplement companies, Gaia, makes a vegan capsule with organic cranberry concentrate.

Bottom line: load up the cranberry sauce and drink a glass of water after every glass of wine.

(And of course, as always, ask your doctor about a medical condition, such as a urinary tract infection.)

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor should it be used as a substitute for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article contains the advice of any doctor or health care professional, the views expressed are the views of the expert quoted and do not necessarily reflect the views of goop.

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