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Cranberry prevents urinary tract infections, studies confirm

PhotobucketHarvard Medical School’s health magazine HEALTHbeat published an article in their June 10 issue that cranberry does help to prevent urinary tract infections (UTI).

If you take cranberry supplements religiously, you would know that there is always a disclaimer on the bottle which says it has not been scientifically proven that cranberry can stave off the pesky infection that many women face.

It isn’t something new but cranberry can finally be officially labeled as “proven in clinical trials”. The research groups show that participants experienced a 35 to 39 per cent reduction in the frequency of UTI over a 12-month period.

There is just one flaw: the studies conducted did not analyze if juice or supplements are more effective, or what level of intake is optimal. Well, we think more tests on that will come up in future, now that there is a revived interest in the relationship between cranberry and UTI.

Cranberry has become so common in women’s diets now — we drink it in cocktails, or pop it in capsules, or nibble the dried fruit covered in white chocolate. But what do you know about this popular dietary supplement? Here are four common myths associated with the cranberry:

Myth #1: Cranberries prevent UTI by making urine acidic.
This is false, as it is the powerful flavonoids, that stop bacteria (namely E.Coli) from sticking to the urinary tract. Cranberries do change the pH levels in urine but this has no connection to its bacteria-blocking capabilities. With such antioxidant potential, research is being done to see if it has the same impact on bacterial diseases in gums and stomach ulcers.

Myth #2: Cranberry products are a cure for UTI.
Research has found that cranberries can help prevent UTI, but is not a cure. So once the infection sets in, no amount of cranberries will fend off UTI and you need antibiotic treatment.

Myth #3: Red cranberries are more effective than white cranberries.
They are both just as effective in preventing UTI. The white cranberry may be harvested a month before the red variety and has a lower acidity profile, but contains the same amount of antioxidants.

Myth #4: Cranberry beverages are 100 per cent made of cranberry juice.
Most supermarket juice products only have a small percentage of cranberry juice concentrate and is often sweetened or diluted with other fruit juices. Pure cranberry can only be found in tablet and capsule form, or is sold in unsweetened concentrate form in health food stores for a fairly high price.

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