Can you prevent bladder infections by changing your diet?

Can you prevent repeat bladder inefections by changing your dietMany women suffer with frequent bladder infections that make their lives miserable.  These infections can also be difficult to treat, which is frustrating for the patient and physician.

Can natural methods help to prevent bladder infections from recurring?  That’s what we’re going to look at in this article.

What are the symptoms of frequent bladder infections?

If you’ve had one infection, then getting these symptoms over and over again is a sure sign that you’re a sufferer of frequent bladder infections.

Be aware though, if one infection hasn’t cleared up properly your symptoms may come back.  It is vital if you have antibiotics that you finish the course.  If you feel unwell while taking them then see your doctor rather than giving up on treatment.

Urine is sterile but when bugs (bacteria) are present you can get an infection.  Symptoms include:

  • Needing to pee (pass urine) very frequently and passing only small amounts when you do
  • Burning when trying to pee
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy, bad-smelling urine
  • Low back ache
  • Fever, chills, feeling unwell
  • Low belly ache

You may have only a few days or weeks between episodes.

What tests will the doctor do for recurring bladder infections?

Your physician will test your urine for blood cells and other residues that shouldn’t be present and want to send a sample to the lab, as s/he will have done before. This will urinemake sure that a previous infection hasn’t been under treated, leaving some bacteria in the bladder.

The symptoms you describe will also tell your doctor that you have/are having recurring infections.

Does cranberry juice help prevent bladder infections?

You may have had investigations with a bladder specialist (urologist) for this problem and the cause often can’t be found.

For some years it has been thought that cranberry juice is useful in preventing bladder infections.  Cranberries contain high levels of flavonoids. Flavonoids are thought to prevent the bugs from sticking to the bladder wall, so they are more easily flushed out.

However researchers at Stirling University in the UK have looked at many of the studies around cranberries and urine health.  They found that cranberries probably don’t prevent urine infections in most women.  You can read about the study here, on Medline Plus.

They conclude that for some women, adding foods that are high in flavonoids into the diet can be beneficial.

You won’t know if you’re one of those women unless you try.

There is no clear guidance on how much a person would need to eat/drink but a recent doctor-lead UK TV program suggested:

  • 2 handfuls of dried cranberries or
  • 150mls cranberry juice and a
  • probiotic yoghurt
  • daily.

Cranberry capsules may also be useful if you don’t like the taste of cranberries or are concerned about the acids affecting your teeth.

Other foods and drinks that have high levels of flavonoids are:




Green tea

Black tea

Dark chocolate


(source: Oregon State University)

  1. Try adding a mixture of these foods and drinks to your daily diet to raise your flavonoid intake.
  2. Do a 3 month trial to see if this makes a difference to your symptoms.

For more information about your urinary and bladder health see:

If you’re worried about your symptoms or medical problem but don’t want to seek professional help because you feel embarrassed, silly or that it’s your fault in some way, read this page now:  How to talk to a doctor about an embarrassing problem.

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