- A study conducted in Taiwan suggested that following a vegetarian diet could decrease the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) by 16%, with women observing an 18% decrease.
- The link between UTIs and diet could be due to the significant consumption of certain types of meat. These meats, particularly poultry and pork, can be significant dietary sources of E. coli, a bacterium that causes 65-75% of all UTIs.
- The vegetarian diet might be beneficial in preventing UTIs due to potential changes in the intestinal environment, such as a reduction in the E. coli population and an increase in acidity levels.
- Additional preventative measures against UTIs include thoroughly cooking meat to kill E. coli bacteria and completely cleaning vegetables to eradicate potential bacterial residue.
- Including more fibre in the diet is also believed to contribute to UTI prevention.
Millions across the globe battle urinary tract infections (UTIs) frequently. Studies now suggest dietary habits may influence susceptibility to this common medical issue.
Taiwanese Vegetarian Study
In a study conducted in Taiwan using almost 10,000 participants, UTI rates amongst vegetarians and non-vegetarians were examined. The study mainly involved Buddhists, out of which a third adhered to a strict vegetarian diet.
Although it wasn’t able to demonstrate a direct cause and effect relationship, results exhibited that individuals adhering to a vegetarian diet showed a 16% decreased likelihood of contracting a UTI compared to their meat-consuming counterparts. The impact was particularly notable in women, with female vegetarians projecting an 18% lower odds in relation to women who consumed meat.
Diet, E.Coli, and UTI Risk
The potential cause for this diet-driven UTI risk reduction may be tied to the dietary sources of certain microbes. The study revealed that Escherichia coli, responsible for 65-75% of all UTIs, is primarily introduced via the intestinal tract with significant contribution from the consumption of certain types of meat— mostly poultry and pork— as they are substantial dietary sources of E. coli.
The principal individual steering this research was Dr. Chin-Lon Lin, serving at Tzu Chi University in Hualien, Taiwan. The findings were brought to light within the Scientific Reports journal.
Global Prevalence of UTIs
The researchers also highlighted that roughly 1 per 100 people worldwide is affected by UTIs, causing considerable discomfort and trouble. Particularly in women, UTIs are one of the most recurrent bacterial infections, making up nearly a quarter of all infections. Recurrence rates fluctuate from 16%-36% in younger women and elevate to 55% in postmenopausal women.
Tracing Diet and UTI Links
As part of research efforts over a decade, Lin’s team monitored UTI occurrences in Taiwanese Buddhists participating in long-term study on the health impacts of a vegetarian diet. Amongst approximately 10,000 study participants, around 3,200 followed a vegetarian diet. The vegetarians displayed notably lower rates of UTIs.
In spite of these findings, dietary habits might not be the single decisive factor in curbing UTIs. Recommendations advised were to cook meat completely to exterminate E. coli bacteria and thoroughly clean vegetables to remove potential bacterial residue. However, research simultaneously found that a vegetarian diet could alter the intestinal environment by reducing the E. coli population, heightening acidity levels which, in turn, might lead to decreases in UTI incidences.
Increasing fibre intake through a vegetarian diet could also be another contributing factor in UTI prevention. With these researchers implying an association between diet and UTI rates, the significance of diet and lifestyle in developing urinary tract infections may be more relevant than previously considered.
For more detailed information on UTIs, refer here