By Sylvia Genders
Avoiding Bladder Infections
Most of us are not used to thinking about our body's maintenance beyond eating three square meals a day, getting proper exercise and drinking bottled water. But as we age, bladder health becomes more important, especially for women. So much can happen, between childbirth and infections, that a woman needs to know how to take care of herself.
For starters, what you drink matters. Wine and beer are preferable to liquor, but kept at a minimum, one or two glasses per day should be the absolute limit. Coffee and colas should be occasional treats, not taken every day, as they are diuretics. Colas have enough sugar in them to close down your immune system for a couple of hours, while diet drinks made with aspartame are being found more and more to be dangerous to brain health. What’s more, caffeine blocks the hormone that decongests the breasts just before the menstrual period, adding to monthly discomfort.
If your urine becomes cloudy and urinating becomes painful, you have a problem. If your bladder's acidity is high, bacteria like E. coli (a very common source of bladder infections) will not be able to survive there. Cranberries and blueberries will heighten the level of acidity in your bladder and keep the bacteria from adhering to the bladder's lining. Commercial cranberry cocktails are unable to do this, but unsweetened cranberries or cranberry juice concentrate can be purchased from your health food store.
Beverages should include water (one 8-oz. glass per hour of steam-distilled water, when possible, during infections), dandelion tea (excellent for kidneys and bladder), decaffeinated green tea, rose hip tea (high in vitamin C) and other herbal teas and some whole juices. Avoid frozen punches, which are diluted juices to which sugar and high amounts of citric acid have been added. Soy milk is excellent for menopausal women.
Try these juices and foods
• 1 cup of fresh cranberries with 1apple
• 1 cup of fresh cranberries, 4 oz. of organic grapes with stems and 4 oz. of fresh-cut pineapple
• Seeds of ½ a pomegranate and 2 apples
Foods to eat when fighting bladder infections include raw garlic and parsley, carrots, celery, cranberries, blueberries, gooseberries, oats and watermelon. Also switch to Half-Salt to restore the potassium lost from frequent urination. Each morning and evening, eat a small amount of plain yogurt into which you have mixed a freshly crushed clove of garlic. Avoid citrus fruits, chocolate and all refined or processed foods and sugars.
Get your supplements
• Vitamin C with bioflavanoids
• Acidophilus -- look for a wide-spectrum probiotic
• Calcium and magnesium complex -- avoid ingredients of dolomite or calcium carbonate
• Vitamin B complex
• Uva ursi -- an anti-bacterial that works powerfully in the urinary tract; used before it was replaced by antibiotics in North America and is still used in Europe; should not be used for more than five to seven days, as it can irritate the kidneys; add 1 t. to marshmallow root when making tea if antiseptic action against E. coli is required
• Marshmallow root -- not as powerful as uva ursi, but has similar though gentler properties to treat your bladder infection; drink four cups of marshmallow tea per day (1 tsp. root to 4 c. boiling water; let infuse 4 minutes before straining and drinking)
Top tips for avoiding urinary tract infections
• Cut down on caffeine and increase the amount of water you drink. Keep a water bottle with you when you work.
• Avoid long line-ups to washrooms or “holding it” when rushing through your day.
• Make sure you get two 20-minute periods of rest during the day and enough sleep at night.
• Avoid commercial bubble baths. Rinse tender areas well, and dry well.
• Don't wear tight pants or clothing.
• Wear cotton underwear that give full coverage, and avoid thongs! Synthetic panties breed bacteria quickly and don't allow for good air circulation. Recent research shows that rectal bacteria propagate up a thong, causing nasty infections.
• Use soap flakes or laundry detergents for sensitive skin if your clothing begins to feel too dry or causes itching or rashes. Alternatively, a squeeze of inexpensive liquid hand soap and 1/4 c. borax will clean laundry quite well. Apply the hand soap to any greasy dirt first.
• Never use vaginal deodorants, spray, powders or deodorant soaps on delicate tissues. While you have an infection, even a corn starch-based bath powder should not be used. If tissues are irritated, combine a blend of 1 T. aloe vera gel or jojoba oil and 6 drops of tea tree essential oil in a small jar and apply as required.
• Take a sitz bath once a day with 1 c. vinegar added to a shallow bath. Do not use soap.
• If douching, use acidophilus douches, not commercial preparations. This restores the natural fauna to the vagina and is especially necessary if you are on antibiotics.
• Panty liners and pads may also breed bacteria if they are not made from unbleached, natural products. If you need to feel fresh, change your underwear or buy or make your own cotton flannel panty-liners with snaps. Just make sure your pattern is wider than the crotch of your panties before you sew them up.
Prescription For Nutritional Healing by James F. Balch, MD, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
© Sylvia Genders
Sylvia Genders was originally trained as a nursing assistant and later in communications. She has been studying alternative health and nutrition since 1968. After many years of making her own natural beauty products, she started Nelsie's Cupboard, a company making soaps and beauty products for chemically sensitive people and those fighting acute diseases. She lives in Ontario, Canada.