Cranberry is the fruit that comes from the Vaccinium macrocarpon plant. It is known for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties, which become a great natural remedy against urine infections like cystitis.
What is a cranberry?
Cranberry is a fruit from the Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton species, which belongs to the Vaccinium L. genus of the Ericaceae family.
The plant from which the berries are extracted is a small perennial shrub, it can slowly grow from 10 to 20 cm. The plant is native to the Eastern United States. Native Americans used cranberries as food, as a natural remedy for several diseases and as a dye due to its intense red color.
Cranberries are subspherical berries of a whitish color that turn red as they mature, eventually becoming a bright pink or crimson color. They measure approximately 9-14 mm and have a smooth surface.
They are edible and have a very bitter taste. They can be eaten fresh, dried, concentrated or powdered. They are often used for the production of juice, drinks, sauces, jelly and jams. They are also used in the food and pharmaceutical industry as colors and preservatives. These berries can be taken as a food supplement in powder or capsules due to their beneficial properties for the body.
Cranberries are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, β – carotene, phenolic compounds like flavonoids are specially rich in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the substances responsible for providing the characteristic red color to the berries. Another of the bioactive compounds from Cranberries are Proanthocyanidins (PAC), another type of flavonoids.
Proanthocyanidins help to inhibit the adherence of bacteria such as Escherichia coli to the surface of the urinary tract. This is why in recent years cranberry or cranberry supplements are used to improve the urinary tract health because it is a great natural remedy for urine infections.
It is also a supplement used to prevent several issues like ulcers, diarrhea, diabetes, stomach disorders and liver problems.
Benefits of cranberry
- It prevents bacterial adherence to the bladder and urethra, specially by E. coli bacteria
- It has antioxidant properties.
- It supports the health of the cardiovascular and immune systems.
- It blocks the pathogens that cause tooth decay, which improves our oral health.
Cranberry and urinary system infections
Urinary tract infection (UTI) takes place when there is a certain critical number of bacteria in the urine. It can also cause cystitis (bacteria in the bladder), urethral syndrome and pyelonephritis (kidney infection).
Urinary tract infections are usually treated with antibiotics. However, due to the high resistance of bacteria to antibiotics and their adverse effects, cranberry supplements are becoming a popular remedy against this problem.
The main cause of the onset of urinary tract infection is the adherence of bacteria to uroepithelial cells and catheters. The Escherichia coli bacterium is responsible for an 80% of urinary tract infections and the cause of a 90 % of acute pyelonephritis.
Today, we know that using cranberries or cranberry supplements prevents the spread of pathogenic bacteria that can attach themselves to the urinary tract, thus preventing infections. Cranberry is useful for preventing urinary tract infections, but it also fights the bacteria involved in the formation of stomach ulcers, such as the Helicobacter pylori. It is also effective in preventing the development of dental plaque.
Tips to prevent urinary infections or cystitis
It is always better to prevent than to heal and that is why certain tips should be followed in order to prevent urinary infections, for example:
- Wash your hands properly with soap before any contact with the vagina and all intimate parts.
- Wash the genital area several times a day with a soap suitable for this purpose. Change underwear after each visit to the toilet.
- After urinating or defecating, one should always wipe from front to back. This will prevent the bacteria from the anal area being introduced into the urethra.
- It is important to drink from 2 to 3 litres of water daily to urinate frequently and excrete the possible presence of bacteria from the bladder.
- Urinate immediately after having sex.
- If you want to urinate, do not hold it for a long time.
- Taking a cranberry supplement since it is good for cleansing the bladder and to prevent infections.
Who should take cranberry supplements?
Anyone looking for a natural remedy to prevent urinary infections.
Particularly, these products are specially advised for high risk groups such as the elderly, pregnant women or menopausal women.
Taking cranberry concentrate extract has no contraindications nor side effects. Therefore, it can be used for a prolonged treatment by those who are prone to suffering from urinary tract infections.
Where can I buy cranberry supplements?
Cranberry products are available in different formats, most of them are capsules or tablets and syrups, even though there are others that can be added in a more natural way to our diet, like jams for our breakfast.
From HSN, we suggest a new product made by HSNessentials in capsules. You will find the perfect product to add the recommended dose of cranberry to your diet so that you can benefit from all its properties.
The recommended daily dose for this supplement is 1 capsule once or twice a day with the meals. Each capsule provides 500mg of cranberry, so the daily dose will provide 1000mg. Moreover, it also includes vitamin C which enhances the effects of cranberry on our organism.
Cranberries have been traditionally used for decades to prevent infections of the urinary tract. That is why, in the last few years, cranberry Vaccinium macrocarpon has been the protagonist of several research lines.