This is a guest post from our friends at Happee, in partnership for women's health month. Happee is a berry-flavored dietary supplement that makes it easy to prevent UTIs. It works by preventing UTI-causing bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract. Taken daily or as needed, Happee flushes bacteria from your urinary tract before they have a chance to wreak havoc. Don't worry, pee happy! Learn more at happeehealth.com.
Cranberry juice won’t actually make your UTI go away.
Then why do so many people chug cranberry juice for their UTIs?
Some people believe it makes their pee more acidic, killing the UTI-causing bacteria. But even an unhealthy amount of cranberry juice won’t make your pee acidic enough to do that.
Others believe that a compound in cranberry juice keeps the bacteria from sticking to the bladder. But cranberries don’t contain nearly enough of that compound (called proanthocyanidin) to have that effect.
The only theory that makes any sense is that cranberries contain a small amount of a sugar called d-mannose. D-mannose isn’t metabolized by your body like regular sugars, so it passes through your system, and on its way out, its particular shape means it might pick up bad bacteria and take the bacteria with it on its way out. But just like the other theories, cranberries don’t contain enough d-mannose to make a difference.
But what if you could get enough d-mannose to make a difference? Well, that actually does work. A 2014 study found that d-mannose is as effective at preventing UTIs as antibiotics. And you can get enough d-mannose in just a spoonful of powdered d-mannose, a capsule, or a chewable tablet from our friends at Happee.
Compare that to the evidence on cranberry where a 2012 review of 24 studies concluded that cranberry juice “does not appear to have a significant benefit in preventing UTIs,” and a 2016 study using cranberry capsules found no benefit compared to a placebo.
Urinary tract infections are one of the most common bacterial infections. More than half of all women will get at least one UTI in her lifetime, and many will need a doctor visit and antibiotics for treatment. By taking d-mannose, you can reduce the likelihood and severity of UTIs, and you can still drink cranberry juice - but only if you want to, not because you think you have to.