Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Cranberries and Urinary Tract Infections

Most women, and some men, are familiar with the symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infections(UTI): the frequent urge to urinate, the small volume of urine, the painful, burning feeling during urination ... not fun.

UTIs account for about
8.3 million doctor visits a year and 1 in 4 women will experience a UTI (and once you've had one, recurrence rates are high) in her lifetime. Although not as common in men, when they occur they can be very serious.

A UTI is diagnosed by a urine test performed by your doctor and can only be treated with antibiotics. But what did they do before antibiotics? By the mid 1800s, folkloric medicine books were suggesting cranberry juice. A 1994 Harvard study found that women who drank 10 oz of cranberry juice for 6 months were 58% less likely to have levels of bacteria in their urine that would be expected to cause infections. Lots of more recent
studies have shown the same thing.

Turns out that compounds in cranberry juice, substances called
trimeric procyanidins (proanthocyanidins), prevented bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract. Although all cranberry products (including cranberry sauce) can help prevent bacteria from adhering, alleviating your symptoms and preventing UTIs, your best bet is to drink 2 cups of cranbery juice- one in the morning and one before bed. Commercial varieties of cranberry juice have lots of sugar added and although you can buy pure cranberry juice, it's very sour. Diluting the pure stuff with diet (low calorie) cranberry juice cocktail (about 25% cranberry juice and 75% water) is best.
You can now buy cranberry pills but, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, it's a "hit-or-miss". Remember that these products aren't regulated so you're not really sure what you're getting in those pills- the label should say something like "made with whole berries". It's important to know that only antibiotics can cure a UTI and avoiding treatment can aggravate the infection that can move to your kidneys and become very serious.

What else can you do to prevent a UTI and/or alleviate the painful symptoms of an infection?

- Drink plenty of water to flush out your system- aim for 8-10 cups a day.
- Some evidence is coming out indicating that blueberries also contain procyanidins and act similarly to cranberries (it's blueberry season now so visit your local farmer's market. You can buy pure blueberry juice).
- Urinate when you feel the need (don't hold it in) and empty your bladder completely when you do.

- Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays and douches and wipe from fron to back to keep the urethra clean.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Food, Inc.

"If you knew, you might not want to eat it."
"Faster, Fatter, Bigger, Cheaper."
"So much of our industrial food turns out to be rearrangements of corn."
"We can get 2 hamburgers for the (price of a vegetable)."
"We've never had food companies this powerful in our history."
"They have managed to make it against the law to criticize their products."
"When we run an item past the supermarket scanner we're voting for local, or not, organic, or not."
"Imagine what it would be if, as a National Policy, the idea would be to have such nutritionally dense foods that people actually felt better, had more energy and weren't sick as much. See, now that's a noble goal."
"People have to start demanding good wholesome food of us and we'll deliver, i promise you."


Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Every day should be National Running Day!

It was National Running Day in the States today!

According to, it's a day to "come together as a nation to take strides towards leading healthier, fitter lives".

As a runner, I think every day should be Running Day!

I posted previously that running has been found to slow the aging clock and it was found NOT to be associated with osteoarthritis or knee replacement surgeries, as commonly thought. Moreover, a recent study at the University of Missouri comparing bone densities of runners and cyclists found that regular cyclists were 7 times more likely to suffer from osteopenia of the spine than runners! People who engage in activities like biking, swimming, rowing, elliptical training need to incorporate bone-strengthening activities, like resistance training or running, to their exercise regimens.

Interestingly, the
same researchers also found that running may build stronger bones than even resistance training since lifting dumbells, for example, won't do much for the strength of your hip bone. Therefore, high-impact, dynamic, multi-directional activities, like running (as well as sports like soccer, basketball, volleyball and even structured jump-training such as in high-impact step aerobics) result in greater gains in bone strength.

So, if you didn't run today, why not lace up your running shoes tomorrow and go for a run... or incorporate some running bouts into your daily walk?

See you out there...!