Health Benefits of Cranberries | Urinary Tract Infections
No one talks about the health benefits of cranberries - except your doctor. If you've ever had a urinary tract infection, you've probably been "prescribed" cranberry juice.
And your doctor probably told you that it was the acidity in cranberry juice that killed the urinary tract infection bacteria. But guess what, that news went away with Pluto.
OPC's are the reasons for these health benefits of cranberries. That's right. Scientists call these things oligomeric proanthocyanidins - I prefer to call them OPC's.
These healthy OPC's actually prevent the bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. That's all they do - but it's very effective. See the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections are in the E.coli family.
These E.coli have little hairs all around them that help them stick to the walls. Well, the OPC's in cranberry juice, once broken down by your digestive system, actually stick to the hairs. If the hairs have health OPC's stuck to them, they're not able to stick to the walls of the urinary tract.
How silly is that?
Urinary Tract Infection Studies with Cranberry Juice & Supplements
Did you know there's a place called the Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research? It's part of Rutgers University in New Jersey. Well these guys, among others, have studied the health benefits of cranberries on urinary tract infections.
Last year a review of 10 of these studies revealed that over the course of a year, 33% of the 1,000 people had no urinary tract infections. Some of these women were taking cranberry supplements like an OPC supplement we feature here.
Probably the best study came from a 1 year double-blind, placebo controlled study that followed 150 women. Some of the women used a placebo while the others used cranberry juice or a cranberry pill. The results showed a significant reduction of bladder infections for the cranberry juice and pill users.
However, once you get the urinary tract infection - you're going to need antibiotics. Drinking cranberry juice just helps to prevent getting them - it does nothing to cure them once they've stuck and are multiplying.
How Much Cranberry Juice Do I Need?
You've got three options for your cranberry intake:
Cranberry or OPC supplement
Cranberry Juice is the hardest to find - strangely enough. Researchers have found that you need a drink that contains at least 27% cranberry juice. Since most of these juices are a combination of water, cranberry juice, sugars and other juices - it's often hard to tell. Usually cranberry juice cocktail is a good place to start. Something like a cranberry juice blend, however, is not likely to have enough.
A study of 153 women given 10 ounces of cranberry juice per days showed a 58% decrease in the incidence of bacteria and white blood cells in the urine. A double-blind study of 376 hospitalized seniors were given less than that and failed to prove any benefits.
Cranberries are pretty tart, which makes them hard to eat without a sweetener. But if you can take a handful of dried, fresh or otherwise, you'd be doing great. Even cranberry sauce does wonders (which reminds me - please check out our cranberry-relish recipes.)
Finally supplements are probably your best bet. The main and most powerful ingredient to overcome urinary tract infections is OPC's. So look for an OPC supplement like OPC Factor. Otherwise, check out our resveratrol supplement page for supplements that include OPC's. Author: Dan R Morris