Can You Treat and Prevent UTIs Naturally?
We’ve all heard the benefits of cranberry juice for treating urinary tract infections (UTIs), but did you know that the key element in cranberries for treating infections is because of its high concentration of D-Mannose? Never heard of it? D-Mannose is a simple sugar related to glucose, but unlike most sugars, it’s a powerful anti-infective compound that provides promising therapeutic value, especially for women who suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections. Not only is it a more natural and more effective alternative to antibiotics for preventing infections, but it also boosts the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut while also improving bladder and urinary health.
WHAT IS D-MANNOSE?
Let’s break it down. Mannose is a naturally occurring sugar in many plants, such as cranberries, apples and peaches. Mannose is a simple sugar (or monosaccharide) produced in our bodies from glucose or that is converted into glucose when ingested. It is found in microbes, plants and animals, and occurs naturally in fruits, such as apples, oranges and peaches. D-Mannose is just the term used when the therapeutic sugar, Mannose, is packaged as a nutritional supplement.
Though Mannose is structurally similar to glucose, it has a lower glycemic index (meaning it is absorbed at a much slower rate in the gastrointestinal tract) so it will reduce your insulin response and have minimal impact on your blood sugar levels. Also, unlike other sugars, which are stored in the liver, Mannose is filtered out of the body through the kidneys. Then, from the kidneys, it’s routed to the bladder for fast excretion through urination.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF D-MANNOSE?
TREATING AND PREVENTING URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS
One of the biggest health benefits of D-Mannose is its potential to maintain urinary tract health. According to recent studies, one in three women experience UTIs by age twenty-four and almost half will have at least one in their lifetime (1). Common symptoms of UTI include a strong urge to urinate frequently; a painful burning sensation when urinating; discomfort in the lower abdomen; and cloudy or bloody urine. Supplementing with D-Mannose has been proven to be a safe and effective treatment of UTIs as well as the prevention of recurrent UTIs, particularly when compared to more conventional and more intrusive antibiotic treatments (2, 3).
Why is Mannose such an effective agent for preventing UTIs? Basically, there are Mannose receptors on the protective layer that lines our urinary tracts. D-Mannose helps to prevent the adhesion of E. coli to the urinary wall by binding to urinary E. coli (the most common cause of UTIs) and effectively flushing both the D-Mannose and E. coli out through the process of urination. Supplementing with D-Mannose has become even more powerful as E. coli becomes more and more resistant to traditional antibiotics (3). In fact, for the first time, we are seeing common infections, such as urinary tract infections, becoming impossible to treat with antibiotics. With proper treatment, diet, and appropriate supplements you can heal and reduce the risk of new and repeat infections.
And men, this also applies to you. While you may be less likely to experience urinary tract and bladder health issues, you’re not immune. Especially once you pass 50. Taking the proper measures is especially important for certain groups of women and men:
- Women who have gone through menopause
- Any man or woman who is sexually active
- Women who are using certain types of birth control
- Anyone with blood sugar or immune health issues
Anyone with any type of blockage of the urinary tract, such as an enlarged prostate or kidney stone
Research has also shown that D-Mannose is an effective prebiotic to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. There is also evidence that D-Mannose may help protect against lectins, or protein commonly found in beans, seeds and grains, in the gastrointestinal tract. Lectins can be damaging to the intestinal wall as they are not broken down by stomach acid or other digestive enzymes. However, studies have revealed that D-Mannose can help bind and block lectins, preventing them from reacting with and damaging the intestinal wall.
TOP D-MANNOSE FOODS
D-Mannose occurs naturally in many foods, especially fruits such as cranberries, oranges and apples. Here are some of the most common foods rich in D-mannose:
- Black Currants
Though these foods can be a good way to incorporate D-Mannose into your diet (and generally a good addition to any diet), it can be challenging to get the recommended dosage just by consuming these fruits or their juices. You would need to eat a lot of cranberries to get a sufficient dose to treat a UTI! In fact, drinking cranberry juice, for example, isn’t always the best solution to optimal urinary tract health, especially when most fruit juices nowadays are loaded with sugar and artificial flavouring.
A much more effective and sustainable way to treat UTIs (especially for more severe cases) is to supplement with D-Mannose, which uses not one, but two of cranberry juice’s most exceptional nutrients. This is perhaps the best way you can capture the benefits of cranberry juice without all the sugar. The D-mannose found in supplements is 10 to 50 times more potent than that in cranberry juice.
Just a word of warning. If you’re just venturing into the world of D-Mannose, you may get overwhelmed with the number of choices on the market, especially when you know that not all supplements are created alike. As with any supplement, you want to be sure that you’re getting the purest form possible in an otherwise unregulated industry. This is important when ingredients such as cranberry, vitamin B6, citric acid and binding ingredients can be irritating to an already sensitive bladder.
D-MANNOSE DOSAGE RECOMMENDATIONS
There is no standard D-mannose dosage, and the amount you should consume depends on the condition you are trying to treat or prevent. Most practitioners recommend taking 1 gram 1-3 times daily, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner. If you are treating an active urinary tract infection, the most commonly recommended dose is 1.5 grams twice daily for three days and then once daily for the next 10 days. It is good practice to continue taking the supplement even after symptoms have diminished to ensure complete elimination of the bacteria in the urinary tract. Most people do not experience any side effects with D-Mannose, but as always, consult your health practitioner if you have any questions about the dosage right for you or any potential side effects given your health profile.