Cranberry fruit (Vaccinium macrocarpon) grows on evergreen shrubs that are native to North America. Cranberry fruit is classed as a functional food due to the naturally high content of compounds, such as polyphenols, which are believed to have antioxidant and therefore health-promoting properties. The reported health benefits of cranberry consumption range from cardioprotective effects due to improved cholesterol profiles to aiding digestive health.
Cranberry exists in various forms:
· Raw fruit (fresh and dried)
· Cranberry juice
· Cranberry extract in capsule/tablet formulations
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common bacterial infections and are often treated with antibiotics. Concerns about multidrug-resistant uropathogens have pointed to the need for safe and effective UTI-prevention strategies such as cranberry consumption (Maki, et.al., 2016).
Cranberry extract could be a potential alternative to antibiotics to treat acute uncomplicated UTIs. Proanthocyanidin, or its’ metabolites, are believed to be the active ingredient in cranberry, preventing Escherichia coli (E. coli) from binding to the bladder uroepithelium and thereby reducing the ability of E. coli to cause and sustain a UTI
Generally Cranberry juice may prevent UTI by selecting against more adhesive strains in the stool, by directly preventing E. coli from adhering to uroepithelial cells, or by both of these mechanisms (Foxman, et.al., 2015)
Literature suggests that the consumption of a cranberry juice beverage lowered the number of clinical UTI episodes in women with a recent history of UTI (Maki, et.al., 2016). However Systematic reviews assessing the use of cranberry in the management of recurrent UTIs provide mixed evidence for benefit (Gbinigie, 2020).
Summarizing the current evidence base for or against the use of cranberry extract in the management of acute, uncomplicated UTIs is inadequate; rigorous trials are needed. However cranberry fruit (in all its’ forms) is a functional food and it is it is suggested to be incorporated into our diet
Maki, K. C., Kaspar, K. L., Khoo, C., Derrig, L. H., Schild, A. L., & Gupta, K. (2016). Consumption of a cranberry juice beverage lowered the number of clinical urinary tract infection episodes in women with a recent history of urinary tract infection. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 103(6), 1434–1442. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.116.130542
Foxman, B., Cronenwett, A. E., Spino, C., Berger, M. B., & Morgan, D. M. (2015). Cranberry juice capsules and urinary tract infection after surgery: results of a randomized trial. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 213(2), 194.e1–194.e1948. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2015.04.003
Gbinigie, O. A., Spencer, E. A., Heneghan, C. J., Lee, J. J., & Butler, C. C. (2020). Cranberry Extract for Symptoms of Acute, Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infection: A Systematic Review. Antibiotics (Basel, Switzerland), 10(1), 12. https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics10010012