Nobody likes having a urinary tract infection, but they do happen from time to time.
If you’ve got a urinary tract infection (UTI) or you’re prone to having UTIs, you’ll receive a lot of advice: what causes them, whether you should have sex with a UTI, what you should eat to treat or prevent them, and other pointers.
But there’s more. Let’s look at what foods to avoid with a UTI.
Do I Have a UTI?
If you’re a woman, there’s a good chance you have had a UTI at some time, since women are at a greater risk than men. A UTI is an infection in any part of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract—the bladder and the urethra.1
An infection limited to the bladder is mostly annoying, although it can be painful. Serious health problems can occur if the infection spreads to the kidneys.1
If you have a UTI, you may not have any symptoms, but these are the most common side effects:1
- A strong urge to urinate that doesn’t go away
- A burning feeling when urinating
- Urinating often, and passing small amounts of urine
- Urine that looks cloudy, smells strong, or is red, bright pink or cola-colored
Occasionally a UTI can cause pelvic pain.
What Foods to Avoid with a UTI
You’ll often hear that cranberry juice is a good option for preventing and treating UTIs. That’s because it can flush bacteria from your system without irritating the urinary tract.2
But in terms of what you should not eat when you have a UTI, urologists suggest avoiding:2
- Acidic fruits: like lemons, oranges, grapefruits, apples, and peaches, as well as juices from these fruits. These fruits are loaded with acids which can greatly irritate the bladder.
- Spicy foods: for the same reasons as acidic fruit, since the extra heat may also add irritation.
- Sugar and starch: in foods such as cookies, soda, chips, candy, and cake, since they are a good food source for bacteria.
Other foods to avoid include alcohol and artificial sweeteners.3
Doctors also warn against drinking caffeine (think coffee and soda pop) for a number of reasons:2
- It can increase the rate at which you urinate, which can lead to slight dehydration.
- Dehydration can add salt to your urine, and salt can irritate your bladder, which will make the symptoms of UTI worse.
- It may cause you to hold back the desire to urinate, which in turn increases the risk of bacteria in your bladder.
The best thing to consume with a UTI is a lot of water. Up to eight glasses a day will help flush some bacteria out of your urinary tract. While cranberry juice and other healthy items like the probiotics in sauerkraut, pickles, kefir and probiotic yogurt can help your body fight infections, they can’t cure a UTI once you have one.4
It’s best to see a doctor and receive medicine to eliminate the infection and avoid the danger of the infection spreading to your kidneys.4
Seek Medical Attention
A proper diagnosis and treatment is vital if you suspect you have a UTI. A healthcare provider will perform tests to identify the type of UTI, and then you may receive an antibiotic. Left untreated, a urinary tract infection can cause serious health problems, such as permanent kidney damage, or sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection.1
Use our Physician Finder to seek out a women’s health specialist if you suspect you have any type of UTI.