How To Treat A Urinary Tract Infection With Probiotics
Anytime there is a natural, safe, holistic option that could bring some relief to a nasty health problem – why not give it a try? I’ve got one for you today.
When it comes to urinary tract infections, there’s been one way doctors have been treating them for decades: antibiotics. But what if the answer to ultimate relief was actually in probiotics?
I’m going to show you how probiotics can help both prevent and treat a UTI.
But first we got to get a better understanding of probiotics and what they do for the body (because they actually help just about every single part of you) Then we are going to get to things like: how to take them, what to do for UTI prevention, and two UTI treatment options that include probiotics.
What Are Probiotics?
Lots of products are being marketed “with probiotics” or “with active cultures” today – but what are these living organisms and what do they do?
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Our bodies have somewhere around 100 trillion microbes. That’s a lot of living creatures existing in and on our bodies. (In fact, scientists say there are even more of these bacteria cells on our bodies than our own cells!)
- Some of those microbes are “bad” – infectious, viral, etc.
- Some of those microbes are “good” – healing, fighters of the bad, etc.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that we can introduce to the body. They help do everything from boost your immune system and aid your digestion to prevent skin rashes and heal leaky gut.
That’s because the majority of your immune system actually resides in the gut. So more good gut bacteria = a stronger immune system. (Much of your neurological system is located in your gut too… which is why they often call it your “second brain”)
But that good gut bacteria also does something else: prevent and treat urinary tract infections.
3 Ways To Get More Probiotics
There are two main ways to take probiotics. I choose to add both of these methods to my daily life. Then there’s a third step that ensures they stick around.
1. A Probiotic Supplement
One of the easiest ways to get more probiotics is to take a probiotic supplement. You can find countless brands at your health food store. Here are some tips for choosing the right one for you:
- You will want at least 50 billion CFUs. These are the units that measure the living bacteria in each dose. Some will be as small as low as 1 or 2 billion, but these are not nearly as effective as they should be. Some will be as high as over 100 billion. For real effectiveness, make 50 billion your lowest point and go up.
- Choose a gluten-free, dairy-free brand that has no genetically modified ingredients.
- Make sure they have different strands of probiotics; some of the best are: lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus pantarum, bifidobacterium longum, and bifidobacterium lactis.
Probiotic supplements should normally be kept refrigerated since they are filled with live and active cultures.
2. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods have gone through a process called lacto-fermentation, which actually creates these probiotics. They are a natural, healthy, and tasty way to boost your probiotic consumption.
Some of my favorite fermented foods include:
- Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage
- Kombucha – fermented tea
- Kefir – fermented milk or coconut water
- Kimchi – fermented vegetables
- Yogurt – fermented milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc.
If you buy yogurt for its active cultures, choose wisely. Many popular brands are super high in sugar – which acts like food for bad bacteria. Look for no added sugar (even artificial sugar).
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You can also ferment just about any type of produce you like. One of the most interesting recipes I make all the time is fermented berries. They make a great snack. The Nourished Kitchen blog has a recipe for you.
Also, check out this video on 3 different ways to make your own fermented carrots: a carrot kraut, a spicy carrot salad, and carrot sticks (these tips could be used for many different types of veggies if carrots aren’t your favorite)
3. Eat Gut Happy Foods
Adding more probiotics is key, but so is preserving the ones that are already there. A large way to keep a healthy gut flora is through diet. Ways to do this are:
- Cut out sugars and refined carbs (like white flour)
- Cut out processed foods
- Eat more produce and plants
- Limit animal proteins
- Switch to healthier oils like coconut oil or avocado oil
- Consume plenty of fiber
These steps will help create a gut environment that is friendly to the good bacteria.
(Bonus: lowering stress, exercising, getting plenty of sleep, and taking antibiotics only when you absolutely need to really help too!)
Probiotics and Your Urinary Tract
So what does all of that great information on consuming probiotics have to do with urinary tract infections? I’ll tell you:
1. Good bacteria helps prevent the bad bacteria from entering your body, sticking around, multiplying, and/or infecting. This definitely benefits anybody at risk for a UTI.
2. If you deal with chronic UTIs, you have probably been on multiple rounds of antibiotics. This knocks out your good bacteria, which allows the bad bacteria to thrive. This is then a breeding ground for yet another urinary tract infection.
3. Probiotic health = gut health = overall body health (including your urinary system)
But let’s see how probiotics can practically help to prevent a UTI or a treat a UTI when do you do get one.
UTI Prevention with Probiotics
Probiotics are essential for preventing UTIs in the first place. This is all about consistent use:
- Take your 50 billion CFU+ probiotic supplement daily
- Consume fermented foods regularly
- Keep to your gut health diet consistently
Of course there are other super helpful ways to prevent UTIs like going to the bathroom after sex, drinking plenty of water, or wiping from front to back – but adding regular probiotic use will help keep your UTIs away too (not to mention, it will help other body systems like your digestive tract and even your mood).
UTI Treatment Option #1: Antibiotic + Probiotics
Like I mentioned earlier, the typical treatment for a UTI is a round of antibiotics. And in most cases it’s effective. Within a day or two your symptoms go away. Then a few days later the infection is gone.
But antibiotics are not intelligent bacteria killers. They don’t only target the bad bacteria and leave the good bacteria alone. They kill it all. So what you’re left with is messed up gut flora and an overgrowth of yeast.
To combat this problem (or at the very least decrease this problem), you should be taking a probiotic supplement every single day that you are taking your antibiotic. Just take them a few hours apart.
And once your antibiotics are finished, you need to keep those probiotics coming, so they can replace what was lost. Make sure you fill your plate up with fermented foods. Add a fermented drink to your day. And be consistent about taking your probiotic supplement every single day.
These are great habits for anyone to get in – but they are so important for anybody who has just taken antibiotics.
UTI Treatment Option #2: D-mannose + Probiotics
Here’s the deal with this second option: this is the natural route, which means there’s a chance it won’t entirely kill the infection. But there is a chance that it will. This is especially great news for those with recurrent bladder infections whose bodies are struggling from the many rounds of antibiotics.
D-mannose is an alternative to antibiotics for treating UTIs. It is actually comes from a type of sugar. It is effective against E. coli which just so happens to be the most common bacteria giving you urinary tract infections.
It works by essentially “sticking” to the bad bacteria, so the bad bacteria doesn’t “stick” to your bladder walls. Then you can flush it out.
So take your D-mannose daily, and then you are going to want to:
- Consume your fermented foods
- Take your probiotic
- Consider probiotic suppositories: These fill your vagina with the good bacteria. Since the vagina is right next to the urethra, this can help manage the bacterial growth in the area
Big disclaimer: if your UTI gets worse with this second treatment option, you must head to the doctor for antibiotics. Bladder infections can spread up to the kidneys, which is an infection much more severe than your average UTI. Listen to your body.
Healing Your UTI With Good Bacteria
No matter which path you take for UTI treatment, make sure you drink plenty of water to help your urinary tract flush out regularly. Limit your sugar, alcohol, and spicy food consumption.
Probiotics can do wonders for your body. Why not take advantage of the urinary tract help they can provide as well? Because here’s the deal: you should be taking these probiotics anyway. They are massively important to every body system you have. The fact that they can help UTIs too is just a really great added bonus.
So drink that kombucha, eat some sauerkraut, take your 50 billion CFU+ probiotic pill, and enjoy a healthier body and urinary tract.