What increases your risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI)? Dr. Payal Bhandari, Uqora’s Scientific Advisor, explains why certains activities, foods and habits can put you at greater risk.
This video is part of a 5-part series. In the series, Dr. Bhandari explains how you can get a UTI, what you can do to prevent infections and how treat UTIs. It turns out there is a lot you can do on your own to prevent urinary tract infections. Can’t wait for the rest of the details? You can jump ahead here.
Here’s the video transcript in case you’d rather read than watch:
Hello! I am Dr. Payal Bhandari, an integrative family physician practicing in San Francisco, CA since 2005. Urinary tract infections are an extremely common problem among women; causing more doctor’s visits per year than everything but the common cold.
In my last video I explained how you can contract a urinary tract infection—now I’ll elaborate on what risk factors increase the development of a UTI.
When the natural acidity level (or pH) of the bladder increases, unhealthy bacteria normally in the bladder have the opportunity to overgrow. Under various circumstances, this bacterial overgrowth can lead to a bladder infection.
The following foods directly increase the bladder’s acidity level and allow unhealthy bacteria to overgrow:
#1. Sugar. Sugar is in just about everything. You can find sugar in most processed and pre-packaged ready-made items like dry cereal, granola or protein bars, chips, crackers, condiments (like ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, mayonnaise, and salad dressings). Sugar is in fruit snacks, dried fruit, ready-to-eat dry or frozen meals, baked goods, sweets, bread, candy, sweet drinks like fruit juice, Vitamin Water, Gatorade, and soda. Sugar is also maple syrup, agave, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, and cane sugar.
#2. Artificial sweeteners are labelled as the sugar-free alternative. Some examples include Aspartame, saccharin, sucralose (i.e., Splenda), acesulfame potassium.
#4. Red meat and all dairy products
#5. Caffeine (i.e., black and green tea, coffee, chocolate, hot chocolate). Caffeine decrease the blood flow to the bladder which causes the immune system to have difficulty in shutting down a bladder infection.
#6. Heavy meals at night which contain animal protein like eggs, dairy, poultry, fish, or meat will increase the blood and bladder’s acidity level.
#7. Corn and corn fed animals and fish. Corn has been extensively hybridized causing the body to no longer be able to properly digest it. It can quickly hurt the body’s natural balance of the microbiome and lead to increased acidity in the blood and bladder.
#8. An excess or regular intake of potatoes, sweet potatoes, wheat, and white rice since they break down to sugar and help feed the unhealthy bacteria.
Due to the influences of the above foods hurting the immune system and the microbiome, it is easier for unhealthy bacteria to overgrowth in the bladder. Under certain circumstances, people are more prone to then developing a bladder infection. These activities include the following:
- Having sex. After sexual intercourse it is easy for bacteria to be introduced from outside of the body and travel into the urinary tract. Having a new sexual partner also increases the risk of being exposed to new bugs.
- Holding the bladder for long periods of time can lead to not clearing out unhealthy bacteria from the bladder in a timely manner.
- After prolonged exercise, especially while wearing spandex or restrictive clothing. Bacteria often get trapped when we wear tight clothing. The moist environment makes it easier for bacteria to move around.
In my next video, I’ll explain how you can avoid urinary tract infections.