Smorgasbord Health Column -The Kidneys and Urinary Tract -Bacterial and Interstitial cystitis

The Kidneys and Urinary Tract -Bacterial and Interstitial cystitis

Over the last few posts I have focused on our kidneys and the urinary tract. Apart from kidney stones, cystitis is one of the most common conditions both men and women experience related to this system in the body.

Many people are misdiagnosed with the wrong type of cystitis and this has a direct effect on their treatment and recovery. Bacterial cystitis and Interstitial cystitis are easily confused so it is important to understand the differences and seek the correct medical diagnosis.

What Is Bacterial Cystitis?

Bacterial cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder caused by an infection that has developed either from external sources or within the urine itself.

It can affect both men and women, although it is more common in women due to the proximity of the urethra to the external reproductive organs. Bacteria can be introduced in a number of ways and also be the by-product of certain processes within the body.

  • Poor hygiene is one of the main causes and in women it is always important to wipe front to back so that bacteria in faecal matter does not enter the vagina or the urinary tract.
  • An enlarged prostate in men, or enlarged womb due to pregnancy or fibroids in women, can put pressure on the bladder, preventing it from emptying completely. The bottom of the bladder bulges down below the level of the opening of the urethra and urine collects in these pockets. It is a warm and moist environment, which is perfect for bacterial growth, which in turn leads to infection.
  • Kidney or bladder stones can also prevent the bladder from emptying completely.
  • Birth defects in the urinary system can cause a physical abnormality that prevents the bladder from emptying completely.
  • During sexual intercourse bacteria can enter the urinary system in both men and women. Sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia produce similar symptoms to cystitis especially among sexually active young men and women and are often ignored. This will lead to increased bacterial infections of the urinary tract.
  • Chemicals in bath or personal hygiene products can result in irritations and inflammation that leads to bacterial infection.
  • Repeated use of catheters may result in damage to the urinary tract allowing bacteria to flourish.
  • One result of our fixation about not sitting down in public toilets is that women are not completely emptying their bladders in the crouched position. This prevents all the urine from leaving the bladder and can result in an infection.
  • Hormonal changes in women in middle age can result in frequent bacterial infections.
  • The urine of a diabetic tends to contain a great deal of sugar, which again provides a perfect environment for bacterial growth. It can also cause poor bladder function allowing urine to accumulate providing a breeding ground for germs.
  • Candida Albicans sufferers also tend to have elevated yeast and sugar levels and are prone to frequent attacks of bacterial cystitis. Because antibiotics are prescribed for this type of cystitis it becomes a vicious cycle increasing the level of attacks as any good bacteria as well as the harmful type are killed off and the body becomes more and more unprotected.

The effects of bacterial cystitis

This is one of the most painful and debilitating urinary tract infections and effects many areas of a sufferer’s life.

The pain and frequency of urination make it impossible to sleep, work effectively or carry on a sexual relationship. The body and the mind becomes tired and stressed and within a very short time it has an incredibly debilitating effect on the whole body.

The impact of urinary tract infections on the elderly.

It is quite common for elderly men and women to suffer from urinary tract infections, and I have had experience of the misery this can cause with my own mother. This is especially likely if at some point they have had to use catheters either in hospital or permanently due to urinary tract damage or inefficiency.

The symptoms of a urinary tract infection are very similar to those associated with the early onset of dementia. Confusion, rambling, forgetfulness and the inability to voice the symptoms accurately. Since a UTI is very common I would always advise that if you notice that an elderly person is showing these symptoms that you take them to the doctor with a urine sample and ask for it to be tested for an infection.

That is usually done at the surgery as a dip stick test which indicates the presence of bacteria but it is not specific which results in a prescription for a broad spectrum anti-biotic or one that is not targeted at a particular bacteria. So if an infection is indicated request that the sample be sent off to the laboratory for the bacteria to be identified and then specific antibiotics to be prescribed.

The natural approach

Apart from making sure that you do not introduce bacteria into your urinary system when you go to the toilet you should also make sure that you wash your hands regularly to prevent cross contamination from other bacterial sources. Tight and restrictive underwear can also promote a breeding ground for bacteria that can pass into the urinary tract so change regularly and for women wearing a pad that can be changed several times per day can help reduce this risk.

It is important that everyone has a healthy diet to prevent illnesses but this is particularly important for anyone suffering from bacterial cystitis. You need plenty of antioxidants, in fresh fruit and vegetables, to boost your immune system and to prevent free radical damage to the cells in the urinary tract that might lead to infection. Take regular exercise as this too will help to build your immune system.

It is vitally important that you drink plenty of fluids to flush out your system– frequently taking harmful toxins out of the body in the urine.

Water is excellent but drinking cranberry juice can also be very effective. I briefly covered the benefits of cranberries in the last post and it does help prevent bacteria from attaching themselves to the soft tissue in the bladder and causing an infection. Buy the reduced sugar varieties or make your own from fresh cranberries.

Reduce the sugar in your diet dramatically so that you are not creating the perfect environment for bacteria in the first place. Change over to using savoury toppings for toast for example or use a fresh banana. Avoid all processed foods such as canned sauces, bakery products and baked beans that tend to have very high sugar contents.

If it is an emergency then you may find that taking some bicarbonate of soda in some warm water will help reduce the acidity in the urine and the more severe symptoms of the attack.

You can buy over the counter cystitis treatments and they are effective for the short term and usually contain an alkaline agent similar to bicarbonate of soda and cranberry.

Go to the doctor if the symptoms persist for more than 24-hours, as it is important that the bacterial infection in the bladder does not travel to the kidneys and cause a more serious problem.

What is interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition affecting the walls of the bladder. It is not caused by bacteria and does not therefore respond to antibiotics. Although this type of cystitis more commonly affects women, men too can also develop the problem.

There is no specific set of symptoms for interstitial cystitis, which is why it can be hard to diagnose, but it certainly has some very devastating effects on a sufferer’s life.

In severe cases a sufferer will need to go to the toilet up to 60 times in a day. The urgency of the need to urinate is usually accompanied by severe pain in the abdominal, urethra or vaginal areas. This is reflected in similar pain when a sufferer attempts sexual intercourse. The only time there is mild relief is when the bladder is being emptied which is of course the opposite to bacterial cystitis.

This constant need to urinate means that going out of the house has to be planned meticulously, to ensure that there are bathrooms available. Sleep is completely disrupted, as is work, and it is virtually impossible to conduct a social life. Usually severe sufferers end up housebound, depressed, extremely fatigued and isolated. Since there is no medical treatment people tend to adopt a more and more restrictive diet in the belief that certain foods may cause the problem. Their general health then deteriorates over a period of time and they become prone to other infections and illnesses.

There are some theories as to the cause of interstitial cystitis including referred pain from muscle spasms that are reflected in the bladder or urethra. Also there is a strong link to yeast infection, as opposed to bacterial infection, which would make sense, as sufferers of both types of cystitis are likely to be suffering from Candida Albicans.

There would also, therefore, logically be a link to intolerances or allergies to certain foods. This is where not only would I advise a natural, sugar free diet for both kinds of cystitis but would also recommend that foods be rotated every four or five days to prevent a build-up of the allergens. The body can usually cope with moderate amounts of toxins and eliminate them effectively but if you are eating a particular food every day the body cannot manage to do so.

The body needs to be strong to fight infections but in some severe cases it may be that the sufferer needs to undertake a closely supervised elimination diet. This would mean starting with the basics including plenty of fluids, fresh fruit and vegetables and brown rice for a period of time to determine if the symptoms improve. If they do then other foods can be introduced slowly, over a period of weeks, to see if any culprits emerge as the cause of the problem.

You may find that doctors are unsympathetic to interstitial cystitis. If antibiotics won’t fix it then it can sometimes be labelled psychosomatic and you do need to insist on seeing an urologist and determine if there is a physical cause for your symptoms. At the same time, ensure that you are doing everything you can to improve diet and lifestyle to eliminate other reasons for the condition.

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 1998 – 2018

Next week I will post a healthy eating programme for the kidneys and the urinary tract but in the meantime I would suggest that you take a good look at all the food you have eaten in the last week and estimate how much sugar you have in your diet that may be causing you to suffer health issues.

Thank you for popping in and if you would like to ask a question privately then please drop me a note on

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Kidneys and Urinary Tract – Urinary Tract infections by Sally Cronin

Last week my post was on the kidneys and how they function. I also looked at one of the most painful conditions… Kidney stones.

Today I want to continue with the urinary tract as problems with kidney function have a direct impact on the health of this essential waste pathway out of the body.

The Urinary Tract

Kidneys - locationThe urinary tract consists of a number of different organs that produce, store and excrete urine from the body. These include the kidneys, ureters, bladder and the urethra.

I covered the main function of the kidneys in the previous article. The waste products and other contents of the urine flow through ureters, one in each kidney, and into the bladder, where it is stored until there is an urge to get rid of it.

When you urinate, muscles in the bladder wall help push the urine out of the bladder, through the urethra and out of the body. In between urinating the sphincter, another muscle, keeps the urethra closed to prevent the urine from flowing constantly.

Normally your urine is sterile without any bacterial contamination. However, the mix of minerals, sugars and warmth make it a perfect environment to nourish and grow bacteria which is where the urinary tract infections come in.

Our defence systems are very refined and normally bacteria are prevented from getting into the urine in a number of ways. When the sphincter is in the closed position, bacteria are unable to gain entry to the bladder. The urethra in both men and women is quite long and difficult for bacteria to negotiate, but a woman’s is shorter which is why urinary tract infections are more common in women.

Also, every time you urinate you are flushing out the urethra as well as emptying the bladder completely. There are valves that prevent any urine from back washing into the kidneys so even if the bladder and urethra are infected, the bacteria should not be able to gain access to the kidneys.

With such good defences why do we get urinary tract infections?

The most common way to get a urinary tract infection is by bacterial contamination from our stools. For example, babies who wear nappies are exposed to bacteria that can enter the body and contaminate the urethra. Young babies and children have very immature immune systems and it does not take long for the bacteria to infect the soft tissue. As we potty-train babies, it is the girls that are more likely to become infected unless they are trained at a very early age to wipe front to back, so preventing any bacteria from reaching the vagina.

As we get older and become more sexually active, bacteria can be pushed into the vagina and in unprotected sex this can affect both males and females. Urinating after sex does help but careful hygiene is always critical, although not necessarily adhered to in young adults.

An important thing to remember about the bladder is that it is very elastic. It is not a good idea to go all day without emptying it as it will stretch and sag around the entrance to the urethra. This causes urine to collect and is a breeding ground for bacteria and also an ideal environment for stones to collect. If the problem is not rectified it may result in having to use catheters to empty the bladder, which is both inconvenient and can lead to further infections.

Are there different infections of the urinary tract?

Each separate part of the urinary tract can become infected and if left untreated can eventually affect the kidneys.

Cystitis is the infection that most women are more familiar with. It is an infection of the bladder and the most common form of infection is by bacterial contamination. There are cases where use of perfumed personal deodorants, soaps and creams have caused problems but it is more likely to be an infection that has moved up the urethra, through the sphincter and into the bladder. Because this is such a common condition and one to be avoided as it is both painful and can lead to complications in the kidneys; I will cover in more detail in the post next Tuesday.

One of the problems that can lead to bacteria gaining a hold in the bladder, is the habit of holding onto urine rather than responding to the natural stimulus. Urinating is designed to empty waste products out of the body and despite being sterile; it only takes a very small amount of bacteria to gain access to this perfect environment to cause an infection.

One of the causes of this is the habit of not sitting down but crouching over public toilets because of the possibility of infection. Ironically, this very act causes the bladder to retain urine and increases the risk of infection.

Urethritis is an infection of the urethra and can be the result of poor hygiene allowing bacteria to infiltrate the urethra or can be the result of a sexually transmitted infection.

Ureteritis is an infection of one of the ureters and can be caused by bacteria that enter the kidneys in the blood stream or if the valves preventing back wash from the bladder are not working correctly.

Pyelonephritis is an actual kidney infection and can be caused, again, by infection in the bloodstream, or if an infection in the urine, from the bladder, has remained untreated.

What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection?

Those of us who have suffered from cystitis will have no difficulty in recognising the initial symptoms. Characteristically there is a burning sensation during urination and this can be accompanied by a fever, low abdominal pain and discolouration of the urine.

Urethritis is usually indicated with burning right at the beginning of urination since the infection is closer to the exit.

If your kidneys have become infected then you are likely to suffer from pain just below your rib cage at the back. These would be accompanied by the above symptoms and additionally there may be blood in the urine.

It is very important that you recognise symptoms at an early stage and do something about them before complications set in. You do not want your kidneys to become infected as this can lead to scarring and damage to the filtering system. This will affect your general health, as waste products will build up and your kidneys can fail. This will lead to the need for dialysis to clean the blood artificially and will eventually require a kidney transplant.

N.B. Urinary tract infections are very common in elderly men and women and the symptoms can result in memory loss, confusion and stress. It is easily misdiagnosed as onset of dementia. If you have an elderly relative who suddenly appears to be showing these symptoms, ask for a urine test to check for infection before rushing to a diagnosis of a more serious kind. A course of antibiotics and plenty of fluids can result in a rapid return to normal.

As I mentioned in the article on the kidneys, they play an important role in maintaining correct blood pressure. If kidneys are sufficiently damaged this balance will be affected and could lead to dramatic drops in blood pressure – which could lead to fainting – or rises in pressure leading to strokes and heart attacks.

What is the normal conventional treatment for urinary tract infections?

If you are suffering from symptoms that could be any of the urinary tract infections you need to act as quickly as possible. Go to a doctor and take a sample with you so the bacteria can be identified. As analysis can take two or three days to accomplish, the doctor will usually prescribe a broad spectrum antibiotic immediately and change to a more specific type later if needed.

If there is a concern that the infection has taken a stronger hold and may have infected the other parts of the urinary tract such as the kidneys, other tests will be carried out and treatment prescribed.

In some cases an ultrasound scan will be done to determine if there are structural problems with the urethra or valves that could allow bacteria to gain entry to the bladder and the kidneys. If it is proved that there is a reflux action from the bladder to the kidneys surgery may be carried out to correct the fault.

Can diet help prevent occurrences of urinary tract infections?

As far as diet is concerned there are a couple of foods that have been shown to help prevent urinary tract infections and cranberries in particular are recognised as being effective.

cranberries_background_200742Native American Indians have used herbal remedies for centuries and they used cranberries to treat urinary tract infections amongst other bacterial conditions. Modern research has revealed that cranberries, and their cousins, blueberries, have a component that protects soft tissue from bacterial infections.

Cranberries contain the highest quantity of proanthocyanidins (PACs) which inhibit the adhesion of bacteria to soft tissue. The most likely culprit of urinary tract infections is Escherichia Coli or E. Coli bacteria and the PACs prevent it from sticking to the surface of the urinary tract and reproducing leading to infection.

Research has shown that if you drink a glass of cranberry juice it will begin working effectively in two hours and the effects will last for 10 hours. This means that if you drink two glasses per day, one in the morning and one at about 8.00 at night you will achieve 24-hour protection.

Staying Hydrated.

It is important that you maintain the correct fluid levels and therefore drinking plenty of pure water is essential. This will pass through the kidneys and flush out any bacteria through the bladder and the urethra and out of the body.

Immune System function

green teaIt is important to boost your immune system with a diet that includes foods that have been shown to be anti-bacterial. – Such as onions, garlic and green tea. If you have a healthy, well-functioning immune system you will be less prone to be infected in the first place and your system will be more efficient is killing infections and getting rid of them through the waste disposal systems.

You will find the “Healthy Eating Plan for the Kidneys and Urinary Tract” helpful as it is designed to help minimise the risk of urinary tract infections and to maximise the health of your kidneys. I will post that at the end of this series on the kidneys.

Coming up in the next posts on the Kidneys – two forms of Cystitis and then a healthy eating approach to avoiding kidney stones and these very painful conditions.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998-2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to share.

You can find the Health Column posts in this directory:

The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Stinging Nettle – Arthritis and Scorpion Stings!

medicine woman

Certainly if you live in the UK you will have come across stinging nettles at some point in your life.. hopefully right next to a convenient patch of dock leaves to alleviate the sting. The common nettle has a long history and not just for causing pain to inattentive hikers.


Stinging Nettle or to give it its posh name Urtica Dioica, is found anywhere that is left wild such as meadows and woodlands or by the side of the road beneath hedges. Originally the nettle had an important role to play in daily life in the form of cloth as it was twisted to make fibre.

If you lived in ancient Greece and were unlucky enough to get poisoned with hemlock, receive a Scorpion sting, or get bitten by a snake, you would be dosed with nettle. There is an old expression ‘to grasp the nettle’, meaning to get on with a job however difficult, and it orginated from the belief that by grasping nettles with your bare hands and pulling them out of the earth they would cure a fever.

Even today nettles are used in herbal medicine and there is some evidence to suggest that the plant can reduce blood sugar levels and high blood pressure but as always I have to remind you not to stop any medication that you have been prescribed for these conditions without consulting your doctor.

  • Having said that I use nettle infusion with some other herbs when I am on a gentle detox as an aid to purifying the blood and reducing water retention.
  • There is evidence to suggest that nettle’s properties that help urinary tract infections and water retention might also be helpful for men with an enlarged prostate. Also that when used in conjuction with another excellent herb for men, Saw Palmetto, it might help prevent the spread of prostate cancer cells.
  • Nettle has been used to treat internal bleeding, excessive menstrual bleeding and nosebleeds.
  • Despite having a vicious sting, the nettle when infused as a tea and as a lotion can improve skin conditions such as allergic reactions or eczema.
  • The same can be said for osteoarthritis which benefits from the anti-inflammatory properties of the herb taken internally and used as a cream.
  • There is some cosmetic uses for the herb too especially if you are suffering from thinning hair or over oily hair.

The sting of the mature nettle comes from the formic acid in the leaves that raises blisters on the skin. But, you can eat the leaves of the young plant, before it develops the formic acid, in salads and they contain a similar range of nutrients to spinach.

The leaves are high in Iron and contain potassium and calcium.. You will also get a healthy boost of Vitamins A and K.  Here is a brief look at what these nutrients mean to the body and might perhaps change you view about this plant that appears to be out to get you!

VITAMIN A: RETINOL; Essential for healthy sight especially at night. It helps cells re-produce normally. It is needed for healthy skin, mucous membranes of the respiratory system, digestive and urinary tracts also bones and tissues. In reproduction it is required for the normal growth and development of the embryo and foetus. It has been shown to influence the function and development of sperm, ovaries and the placenta. As an Anti-oxidant it boosts the Immune System

VITAMIN K: PHYLLOQUINONE; Necessary for proper bone formation and blood clotting.

IRON: The main function of iron is in haemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying component of blood. When someone is iron deficient they suffer extreme fatigue because they are being starved of oxygen. Iron is also part of myoglobin which helps muscle cells store oxygen and it is also essential for the formation of ATP

CALCIUM: The most abundant and essential mineral in the body. There are approximately two to three pounds mainly found in the teeth and bones. Apart from its role in the formation of teeth and bones it is also required for blood clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells and muscle contractions. There is some indication that higher calcium intake protects against cardiovascular disease particularly in women. If you are at risk of kidney stones consult your doctor before taking in additional calcium supplements. This also applies if you are suffering from prostate cancer where there may be a link between increased levels of dietary calcium in dairy products and this form of cancer. It is thought it is thought that excess calcium causes lower levels of Vitamin D, which helps protect against prostate cancer.

POTASSIUM: This is the main cation (positively charged electrolyte). It reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect working environment in and around each cell. It allows the transmission of nerve impulses and helps maintain the correct fluid balance in the body. It also regulates levels of acidity and alkalinity in the body. It is also required for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It is connected to normal heart rhythms.

When not to use Nettle.

Nettles can cause contractions so must not be used if you are pregnant. In fact you must not take any herbal medicine when pregnant without consulting a qualified herbalist.

You should also be careful if on prescription drugs that contain lithium as nettle acts as a diuretic can could effect the body’s ability to excrete excess lithium which can lead to serious side effects.

Also should not be taken if you are taking medication for diabetes as it could drive your blood sugar too low. Similarly if you are on medication for blood pressure as this could lower the pressure too far.

If you are on blood thinners designed to prevent clotting, taking nettle with its high levels of Vitamin K which aids clotting, could result in the wafarin or other drug becoming ineffective.

You can find a number of products containing nettle such as teas and tinctures in health food shops along with lotions and hair products.

I hope you have found the post interesting and as always welcome your feedback.  Sally

Festive Food Pharmacy – Cranberries – Your own defence team to repel invaders.


Cranberries have a documented medicinal history and were used by the Native American Indians as a nutritious addition to their diet normally sweetened with honey as of course the berries are very tart. The Indians also used the berries in poultices for wounds as they recognised the antibacterial and antibiotic effect of the fruit even if they could not scientifically prove these properties. Colonists, who had been introduced to the berry, exported it home to England at the beginning of the 18th century.

Modern research into the therapeutic properties of the cranberry is not one sided and there is usually a commercial reason behind all the debate! However, I have used cranberries for over 20 years personally, with family and clients, and certainly have found that there is  some truth to its health properties. Cranberries act like your own defence team to repel opportunistic invaders who are intent on stealing your health.

Most of us, before the 80’s, restricted cranberries in our diet to Christmas and the odd time we had turkey at other times in the year. Then came the very welcome news that for those of us, who suffered from attacks of bacterial cystitis, drinking the juice of these tart little red berries could bring relief. In fact drinking cranberry (although disputed in some scientific areas) can help prevent attacks of this painful condition. Cranberries contain a unique component in which is technically termed High molecular weight non-dialysable material or NDM for short. NDM prevents bacteria from clumping and damaging soft tissue in various parts of the body including the urinary tract. It is common for many over the counter cystitis treatments to contain cranberry combined with alkaline elements to reduce the build-up of acid.

Emerging evidence shows that this fruit is a lot more versatile than we thought and there are now several very good reasons to include cranberries on a daily basis in your diet.

Cranberry the antioxidant

A free radical is a molecule. A normal molecule has an even number of electrons and is considered stable. Free radicals on the other hand have an uneven number of electrons and are unstable. They are desperate to be like the normal molecules so they have to steal from them to get another electron. This of course means that they have created another free radical. More and more cells become damaged and leave the body open to many diseases – from cardiovascular to cancer.

The free-radicals cause cells to oxidise and die. The major damage is done to our DNA, which results in mutations and death of the cells. Our body does produce anti-oxidants and enzymes that can repair this damage if we eat healthily. However, as we get older so do our cells and it becomes harder to repair them and they die. This is ageing! In our brains when cells are damaged beyond repair you are susceptible to loss of co-ordination and memory and in extreme cases dementia.

To prevent this we need a diet that is very high in anti-oxidants, which work through the body immobilising free radicals and preventing damage. Cranberries contain one of the highest levels of anti-oxidants of most fruit and vegetables and that is why drinking at least one glass per day can provide you with enough of these defensive players to protect your brain.

Artery health

In the same way, flavonoids in Cranberries function as very potent antioxidants and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

blocked arteries

Atherosclerosis is when the arteries become clogged and narrowed restricting blood flow to the heart. The most common cause is a build-up of LDL (Low-Density lipoproteins or lousy cholesterol) oxidising and causing plaque to cling to the walls of the arteries narrowing and hardening them. This can lead to angina, blood clots and heart attacks.

Cranberries contain the flavonoids and also polyphenol compounds that have been shown to help prevent the LDL from oxidising and therefore forming the dangerous plaque that leads to arterial disease.

Dental health – another good reason to drink cranberry juice.

When I left secretarial college, intent on a career on the stage, I took a job as a dental receptionist, which evolved, into my training as a dental nurse.

Canned drinks were becoming all the rage in the 60’s and I saw first-hand the corrosive damage that these sugary concoctions could inflict on tooth enamel. There was not the kind of education, dental hygiene products or electric toothbrushes in those days, but if there had been more of one type of drink around in those days we would have seen a lot less decay.

One would think that drinking cranberry juice with its natural sugars would have a harmful effect on the teeth but in fact the reverse is true. Cranberries actually help prevent dental problems.

plaque on teeth

A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that the unique component in cranberry juice that I mentioned earlier, NDM not only prevents bacteria attaching itself to soft tissue but to the harder substances such as enamel too.

Hundreds of different types of bacteria in the mouth clump together and attach themselves to the teeth and gums and over time harden causing cavities and gum disease. This film on the teeth becomes resistant to saliva, which would normally remove bacteria from the mouth and also our normal oral hygiene routines such as brushing. One of the most resistant bacteria in the mouth is Streptococcus and in tests indications showed that Cranberry mouthwash reduced the presence of this in the mouth significantly.

Other fruits were tested including Blueberries which are part of the same family as cranberries but the NDM was in much weaker concentrations in these and all other fruits tested.

My advice however is to steer clear of commercially produced juices which are low on cranberries and high on sugars.. I actually use concentrated cranberry which is quite expensive but I only use a teaspoon in a glass of water – it does not taste great but you soon get used to the taste.

Cranberry juice and peptic ulcers

Helicobacter Pylori (H.Pylori) bacteria can have a painful and devastating impact on the health of your stomach and also its ability to process the food that you eat.

A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of the stomach or duodenum, which is the beginning of the small intestine. They are quite common and one of the main causes is bacterial infection and the chief culprit is H.Pylori. It is not certain how people contract H.Pylori but it is believed that 20% of people under 40 and half of the population over 60 are infected with it.

H.Pylori weakens the protective mucous coating of the stomach and duodenum, which allows acid to get through to the sensitive lining beneath. Both the acid and the bacteria irritate the lining causing a sore or ulcer. H.Pylori is able to survive in stomach acid because it secretes enzymes that neutralise the acid. Once in the safety of the mucous lining the bacteria’s spiral shape allows it to burrow into the lining.

H.Pylori has also been associated with stomach cancer, acid reflux and gastritis. Finding a natural way to prevent H.Pylori from completing its mission is therefore a very prime research topic. As in dental health and in the urinary tract, the NDM prevents the H.Pylori from attaching itself to the lining of the stomach therefore preventing an ulcer developing.

Other benefits of cranberries

Emerging research is indicating that the benefits of cranberries are even more far reaching with research into its anti-viral properties in the treatment of infections such as herpes and the prevention of kidney infections and kidney stones. What is extremely interesting is the cranberries ability to inhibit the growth of common food related pathogens including Listeria and E.Coli 0157:H7. This antibiotic effect of cranberries was recognised centuries ago by the American Indians and it is a pity that we are only just catching up with these enlightened people.

How to eat cranberries

By far the best way to get your daily fix of cranberries is fresh, mixed with other fruit or juiced.

The recommended preventative ration of cranberry unsweetened juice (or concentrate – one measure mixed with  of water)  is two 10 oz. glasses per day. One in the morning and one in the evening it takes two hours for the antibacterial properties to be effective and they then last approximately twelve hours.

There are a number of concentrated cranberry products and they can be expensive but they do last a fair time using the small measure or cap provided.



I would love to give you a copy of one of my E-books of which there is seven available. I am giving one a day away until Christmas Eve.

Please remember before you comment to check out which book you would like to receive if your name is drawn out of the hat and mention in your comment….

  1. Visit my books link

  1. Choose the book you would like to receive and in Mobi or EPub or tell me your reader.
  2. Comment on the day’s posts that are my own – not reblogs – with the title of the book. I will put a note on those that are relevant.
  3. I will let you know if you are the recipient the next day.




Health Bite of the Day – Example eating plan for healthy urinary tract and kidneys.

For those of you who are eating the basic healthy eating plan outlined in previous blogs – mostly natural and unprocessed, then you are on the right track. But if you are prone to urinary tract infections or kidney stones, then as well as taking the physical precautions that I outlined in the last two blogs, you should take a look at your diet.

There are certain foods that can be helpful as well as monitoring your fluid levels carefully.

Here is an example of an eating programme that may help prevent both damage to kidneys by stones and infection from bacteria in the rest of the urinary tract.

First and foremost you need to ensure that you are taking in essential fluids. These are necessary to flush the toxins through the system such as bacteria and ensuring that chemicals do not crystallise and form kidney stones.

It is very important that you drink little and often throughout the day to ensure a steady flow of fluids and little stress on the organs that have to deal with it. The recommendation for kidney stone sufferers is actually more than my recommended 2 litres, nearer three.

There are certain foods that will help prevent bacterial growth and reduce the risk of stones but there are also foods that you need to avoid if you are prone to both these conditions. Research has shown that a diet that is very high in animal protein and fat can cause a chemical imbalance that can encourage the formation of stones. Also, sugar, coffee and alcohol all damage the kidneys so these should be in moderation.

A glass or two of wine per evening is always better than bingeing once a week.

Drinking Green Tea would be better for you than drinking lots of coffee. The antioxidants in the tea will also help prevent damage to both kidneys and the rest of the urinary tract.

Cranberry juice has been shown to contain properties that inhibit the adhesion of bacteria to the soft tissues inside the urinary tract as do blueberries that can be added to a fruit salad.

A deficiency in potassium can lead to kidney problems. Potassium helps maintain the body’s correct water balance. Eating bananas and spinach, avocado, dried apricots, potatoes, pumpkinseeds and lots of fruit will boost your levels.

It is important to reduce the amount of salt in your diet as this increases both the chances of kidney damage and high blood pressure. Excess salt causes dehydration, which in turn can cause both kidney problems and stones.

I have written about calcium in previous blogs, and how it can be a very volatile mineral if it is not counterbalanced with another like magnesium. So it is important to take calcium in moderation combined with high magnesium foods like whole grains such as brown rice and spinach, salmon, seeds and nuts.

Check to see if the tap water in your area is particularly high in Calcium. If your kettle is furring up then the chances are that it is. I have also mentioned sodium levels in mineral water. Check to see if the water you are buying is high in calcium and choose one with less.

There is some argument that you should take foods out of the diet if they have a high oxalic content. This is found for example in spinach. However, if you have a balanced healthy diet that has moderate amounts of all all fresh foodsyou should find little problem with oxalic in them.

Example of an eating programme for healthy kidneys & urinary tract


  • Glass of water.
  • Drink at least 6 throughout the day if you are drinking cranberry juice and green tea as well.
  • 8 oz glass of cranberry juice
  • Shredded wheat sprinkled with blueberries.
  • Slice of wholegrain toast with butter and honey.
  • Cup of Green tea.

Morning snack

  • Cup of black or green tea.
  • 2 rye crispbread with mashed banana
  • Glass of water


  • Brown rice risotto with chopped onions, mushrooms, garlic, peppers and olive oil.
  • Spinach and tomato salad.
  • Green Tea

Afternoon snack

  • Mix of pumpkin-seeds and dried apricots.
  • Glass of water


  • Glass of cranberry juice to ensure 24 hour protection. (twice a day every 12 hours)
  • Avocado and orange salad.
  • Salmon or turkey fillet – grilled.
  • New potatoes
  • Broccoli and carrots.
  • Glass of wine

60 mins after dinner.

  • Glass of water


  • Fresh fruit salad made from favourite fruits and sprinkle of blueberries and chopped banana.
  • or
  • Handful of walnuts or pumpkin-seeds.
  • Cup of green tea.


This is only a example – if you need a brief breakdown of the various nutrients and the foods that contain them I will be putting up a directory as a separate page on the blog.


The directory is separated into two – Health and Non-Health and updated weekly – you can check the archives for any blogs that have been posted this week.


Thank you for reading and if you have any questions that you wish to ask privately you can contact me on


©Sally Cronin 2009 Just food for Health.


Health Bite of the Day – Urinary Tract infections – In the elderly, symptoms can be mistaken for signs of dementia.

Health Bite of the Day – Urinary Tract infections – In the elderly, symptoms can be mistaken for signs of dementia..

via Health Bite of the Day – Urinary Tract infections – In the elderly, symptoms can be mistaken for signs of dementia..