Probiotics and Urinary Tract Health

E coliIf you’ve ever suffered with a bladder issue, you know how it can impact your quality of life.  There are various causes of urinary tract infections (UTI’s), the most common being the bacteria E. coli. This bacteria is a regular resident of your colon and in women and men, bacteria from the colon migrate and populate the urogenital tract. Many of these bacteria are helpful probiotic bacteria. But when E. coli migrates up into the urethra, it ‘hangs on’ to the lining with adhesive ‘fibrae’ which are fiber like tendrils. If allowed hang on and multiply, they create an infection and often great discomfort. A course of antibiotics, not fully emptying your bladder (especially after sex), and not consuming enough water are just a few situations that can help E. coli grow and cause an infection. When taking antibiotics, both good and bad bacteria are destroyed throughout the body, including the colon. This leaves to chance the re-population of your colonic bacteria unless you are proactively consuming an organic diet, high in fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods. Organic foods are grown in soil that has had good bacteria nurtured in it, and fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and kombucha are created by the addition of healthy bacteria. Taking a probiotic supplement is another way to ensure a good balance of bacteria in your intestines. By establishing healthy populations of good bacteria in the colon, you discourage E. coli growth and keep it in check. One probiotic formula that targets the E. coli while boosting anti-inflammatory species like L. rhamnosus, L. casei, and Bifidobacterium is ProbioPhage by Designs for Health.  By reducing E. coli, there are fewer of these bacteria to migrate and cause problems in the urinary tract. This may be of particular benefit in prevention of frequent urinary tract infections and reducing irritation by E. coli in chronic cystitis. An additional benefit to boosting Bifidobacterium is relief from constipation. Certain species of bacteria create more butyrate. Butyrate is a by-product of bacteria metabolism and helps promote gastric motility and better regulate bowel movements.

A healthy diet, low sugars, high in fiber and containing more plants rather than animal protein is also a huge boost to your urinary tract. Sugars, whether derived from sweets, alcohol or too much refined or processed grains are particularly problematic. Bacteria thrive on sugar, especially less desirable bacteria. But there is one sugar that can actually help: D-mannose. Even though D-mannose is a sugar, it doesn’t interfere with blood sugar because very little is metabolized for energy. D-mannose is a bacteriostatic sugar that rapidly makes its way to your urine. Bacteriostatic means it can stop bacteria from reproducing, while not necessarily killing them. This helps protect the good bacteria while weeding out the bad. D-mannose coats the lining of the bladder and urethra, preventing E. coli from using its fibrae to attach and grow. In addition, D-mannose leaves a ‘signature’ on bad bacteria so your immune system can more easily identify them and destroy them. D-mannose is best used as a preventive means, but if caught early, can chase E. coli out of the bladder and interrupt an early infection. D-mannose can be taken pre- or post-sex with a full glass of water, has been used in nursing homes to prevent catheter associated UTI, and is often found combined with cranberry extract in capsule and powder form. Urinary tract infections can be serious and may require an antibiotic to cure, so don’t delay an appointment with your doctor for symptoms that last more than 48 hours , if you also have low back pain or are unable to urinate.