Your bladder is one of the body parts that not many people think about until there’s a problem with it. Maintaining optimal bladder health is integral to keeping your body balanced and assists both kidney and urinary tract health.
The bladder is also the gatekeeper (in a way) of the urinary system. When the bladder ‘signals’ the urge to urinate, the urine then leaves the bladder through the urethra. When infection occurs in the bladder (cystitis) and inside the urethra (urethritis) it can cause severe discomfort and pain.
UTIs or Urinary Tract Infections occur when micro-organisms such as bacteria build up in either the urethra or bladder and are most commonly experienced by women. This is due to the size of the urethra being much smaller and straighter than a male’s urethra, therefore making it easier for germs to travel into the bladder.
Common symptoms of a urinary tract infection could include:
- A burning sensation when urination occurs
- Wanting to urinate more frequently, also not being able to
- Cloudy, bloody or pungent urine
- Pain associated with the pubic area
Whilst UTI’s are a common occurrence, there are ways that people can prevent them and support bladder and urinary health all year-round.
Stay away from processed foods
Inflammation can be both beneficial and detrimental to your overall wellbeing. In small doses, inflammation helps to heal infections and defend your body from foreign invaders. In consistent and chronic cases, inflammation can be incredibly harmful.
Not only do processed foods disturb and unbalance the good bacteria in your gut, they can cause symptoms like flatulence, bloating, pain and sleep issues. Chronic inflammation has also been linked to an increased risk of disease – such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and even cancer.
“Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common, particularly in women, and result in major costs related to antibiotic use, hospitalisations as well as time lost from work,” said Dr. Deborah Wing, a gynaecology professor at University of California, Irvine.
“Approaches to either prevent or treat UTIs which are based on use of food products could reduce some health care costs and minimise human pain and suffering,” Wing told Reuters Health.
Refined sugars, processed flours, vegetable oils and other artificial ingredients are all huge culprits when it comes to inflammation.
Keep up the good bacteria
Support good gut bacteria by consuming a diet full of pre and probiotics.
Including a diet rich in probiotics and prebiotics is the fastest way to boost your immune system, improve digestion and support mental health. Whilst probiotics can support the production of B12 and K vitamins, prebiotics promote the growth and function of good bacteria and prevent harmful or ‘bad’ bacteria from reeking havoc on the gut.
For a double dose of gut-loving foods, try delicious additions like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and sour pickles.
Make sure you stay hydrated
Dehydration can cause headaches, feeling of lethargy and cognitive impairment. Dehydration, according to Toby Mündel, Senior Lecturer, School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, can result in poor concentration, headaches, tiredness and in, severe cases, kidney failure and even death.
Feelings of thirst often occur when the body is already dehydrated: “At a cellular level, ‘shrinkage’ occurs as water is effectively borrowed to maintain other stores, such as the blood. The brain senses this and triggers an increased sensation of thirst,” Mündel told The Conversation.
At this point, the blood becomes more concentrated and this triggers the kidneys to retain water. The blood becomes thicker and affects the efficiency of the cardiovascular system in maintaining blood pressure. In terms of physical performance, dehydration can reduce endurance; inhibit muscular responses and cause muscle cramping. In short, we need to be drink up.
Water also helps to filter and remove toxins and supports immunity. When your immunity is lowered, you are more susceptible to bacterial infections like UTIs.
Supplements with cranberry extract have been recommended by practitioners as a way to support urinary health.
Cranberry juice (not from concentrate, fresh and natural) and high-potency supplements, are thought to be effective because of their proanthocyanidins, or antioxidant “flavonoids”. These can support urinary and bladder health by discouraging bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall.
Try a high potency formula like Greenridge’s Once Daily Cranberry 60000 for a convenient once daily dose to support urinary tract and bladder health.
As with any supplement it is advised that you always read the label and use as directed, or consult your healthcare practitioner if you are interested in its potential benefits.