is an inconvenient, frustating problem for many females. In this article Ruth discusses how to support the body through diet and supplements to bring about a reduction in symptoms.


Cystitis and urinary tract infections otherwise known as UTI’s are among the most common type of infection being diagnosed and also left undiagnosed in outpatient medicine.  With a smaller number of effective antibiotics, we are gradually seeking alternative approaches to the management of UTI’s. This is where the field of Nutritional Therapy using natural substances is powerful and appropriate.


Cystitis involves the lower urinary tract, displaying inflammation of the surrounding tissue. Women are more likely to suffer due to their shorter urethra, making a much easier access for germs and bacteria’s. The main culprit generally being Escherichia coli (E coli). This is a regular inhabitant of the lower bowel and often translocates to the tissues of the urinary tract. Other bacterial species involved can be Proteus and Klebsiella.



    • Painful stinging or burning sensation during urination
    • The need to urinate more frequently
    • Cloudy, dark, pink or red coloured urine
    • Urine has a strong odour
    • Discomfort in the lower abdomen
    • Pain in the pelvic region (females) or rectum (men)
    • Fever or raised temperature


Interstitial cystitis is associated with painful symptoms and frequent attacks. Often many courses of antibiotics have been prescribed. There is usually no bacteria present in the urine, however the general immune system is compromised and inflammation to the bladder lining is evident.  Food sensitivities are thought to be an issue as are an imbalance of good and bad bacteria’s in the colon.



Often many courses of antibiotics have been administered with immediate support but no long term resolution. Nutritional Therapy seeks to tackle the cause, namely eradicating any unwanted bacteria’s, supporting stress (cortisol production) which weakens our innate immune system, looking at food sensitivities and for the purposes of this article supporting the urinary tract tissue.

It must be emphasised if you are concerned please consult your doctor.



D-Mannose is present in certain plants, pineapples and cranberries. It is a natural sugar produced from the fructose, starch or sucrose of the fruit.

Although it is a natural sugar it does not upset our normal blood sugar regulation because it is non glycaemic in humans. So anyone who has blood sugar dips or diabetes need not be concerned.


D mannose is not metabolised by our human gut, it passes directly through the gut to the kidneys and urine for excretion. There, it binds to the invading bacteria’s disallowing their adhesion to the urinary tract walls and subsequently flushes away the invaders. The added bonus is, D mannose prevents replication of further damaging bacteria’s.  D mannose is particularly clever at adhering to E coli, the most frequent bacteria found in UTI’s.


  • Drink plenty of plain filtered/bottled water or herbal teas once an attack occurs, this is essential to flush out the toxins.

  • Urinating shortly after feeling the need to urinate is important to avoid harbouring bacteria’s in the urinary tract.

  • Urinate ASAP after sexual intercourse.

  • Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight fitting clothing.

  • Wiping from front to back to prevent transportation of bacteria from the anus to the urethra.

  • Avoid any foods or drinks that you know may be an irritant. Often tea is a culprit. Cheese may also be a problem as gut bacteria’s can feed on cheese thus encouraging a bacterial overgrowth. You may want the support of a Nutritional Therapist if there is a possibility of food intolerances.

  • Douching salt water whilst in a warm bath can be helpful. Try Himalayan or Epsom Salts.

  • Use a hot water bottle over the painful area.

  • Eat a more alkaline diet, by altering the pH of the urine to a less acidic state, helps to relieve pain whilst passing urine.


  • To increase alkaline levels, take 1 level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in a glass of water every 2 hours for the first 12 hours to get your urine pH levels to 7.0 or above. You can buy urine test strips. The kidneys actually produce bicarbonate ions that neutralise acids in the blood. This process enables the body to tightly regulate blood pH.

  • Eat more vegetables than you would normally, especially the green variety, spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, peas, even avocado. Carrots, garlic and butternut squash are also particularly good.

  • Fruit, nuts, especially almonds, legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, butter and red kidney beans are all alkaline producing. Weirdly lemon and lime are alkaline producing. So hot water with lemon is a good drink.

  • Barley, millet and soya beans are other good choices.

  • Acidic producing foods are meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, grains and alcohol – so avoid these especially when you feel the first signs of an infection.

  • Coconut and olive oil are alkaline.


© Ruth Pretty 2011