Probiotics are live microorganisms that offer health advantages to humans when ingested in sufficient quantities. They are often referred to as “friendly” or “good” bacteria because they aid in balancing the bacterial population in the digestive system, urinary tract, and other areas of the body.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?
UTIs are common infections that happen when bacteria, often from the skin or rectum, enter the urethra and infect the urinary tract. The infections can affect several parts of the urinary tract, but the most common type is a bladder infection (cystitis). A less common, but more serious UTI is pyelonephritis which involves an infection of your kidney. (Definition from CDC)
What are the symptoms of UTI?
Some generally common symptoms of UTI are as follows;
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Frequent urination
- Feeling the need to urinate despite having an empty bladder
- Bloody urine
- Pressure or cramping in the groin or lower abdomen
- Lower back pain or pain in the side of your back*
- Nausea or vomiting*
*Indicate a more severe infection that may involve infection of your kidneys.
What causes UTIs?
Most UTIs are caused by bacteria of which the commonest one is Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally lives in the gut as a commensal but can enter the urinary tract through the urethra. Some other common types of bacteria that cause UTI are Klebsiella, Proteus, Pseudomonas, and Staphylococcus saprophyticus.
Less commonly, UTIs may also be caused by fungi, such as Candida, or viruses they are not the first priority the doctors used to consider when they see a patient with UTI.
What are favorable conditions for UTI?
Natural, Diseases or Iatrogenic Factors
Conditions that can increase the likelihood of developing UTIs include female anatomy (shorter urethra), sexual activity, urinary catheterization, menopause, certain medical conditions like diabetes, a weakened immune system, and congenital or urinary tract abnormalities or blockages or injuries.
Relationship with Friendly Microbiota
The urinary tract normally contains a diverse population of bacteria that help maintain a healthy balance and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. UTIs can occur when there is an imbalance in the normal microbiota of the urinary tract, allowing harmful bacteria to grow and cause an infection.
The above-mentioned conditions can disrupt the normal microbiota of the urinary tract and create an environment that is more hospitable to harmful bacteria allowing them to multiply dramatically causing several symptoms of UTI in the host.
How probiotics could help in Urinary tract infections?
Probiotics, which are live microorganisms that offer health benefits, have been found to potentially help prevent UTIs and improve their symptoms. By introducing beneficial bacteria to the urinary tract, probiotics can help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and restore a healthy microbial balance.
What does the available research say?
A study published by National Institute of Health has suggested that certain strains of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, can help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the urinary tract by producing lactic acid and other substances that create an acidic environment. This acidic environment can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Clinically significant research findings
A large double-blinded trial in 2018 found L. rhamnosus GR1 and L reuteri RC 14 , compared with antibiotics, showed “nearly as effective” as antibiotics. Apart from that, patients in the probiotics group observed less antibiotic resistance.
Another study on L. rahmnosis GR1 found it reduces the recurrence rate by around 20 %.
- Do not rely on probiotics supplements ONLY if you have UTI symptoms
- The main treatment is still the one that your doctor prescribed
- Sometimes symptoms might need further investigations such as blood tests or urine cultures
- Despite more evidence and theories coming out, currently, no clinical guidelines directly support the use of probiotics for this particular condition.
- Probiotics are best obtained from dietary sources: check best probiotics foods
Our picks of probiotics for UTI
Garden of Life Urinary Tract + is the most well-rounded probiotic for those who are struggling with urine infection.
It includes a good mixture of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, including the most promising strains such as L acidophilus, L rhamnosus, and B Lactis with a total of 50 billion CFU which all have been shown to reduce the recurrence of UTI, reduce antibiotics resistance and symptoms.
Culturelle complete probiotics is a single strain formula with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG 10 billion CFU.
Although multiple-strain supplements are generally preferred, single-strain products can be more effective for those who have allergies to other ingredients or who can not tolerate multiple strains.
This is another Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG-focused product with a CFU count of 10 billion.
The product is vegan-friendly, delayed-release formula, and one of the most popular brands in the UK.
Kayshaya Real Food Probiotic is another product with a good mixture of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium including the most well-researched strains such as L acidophilus, L rhamnosus, and L. lactis.
Kayshaya differs from other products in the fact that they use organic materials for the fermentation of microorganisms ensuring the maximum effect from each strain.
Balance One Probiotics has a fair mixture of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species especially Lactobacillus Acidophilus and a fairly good amount of CFU – 15 Billion.
One major advantage of this is it contains prebiotics which is food for probiotics. This can also help the growth and diversity of existing probiotics
- Contains prebiotics
- 15 Billion CFUs Of Probiotic Bacteria
- 12 Proven Strains
- Time-Release Tablets – released slowly over 8-10 hours
- Prebiotic Included
- Tablets form which has been tested to show more resistance against stomach acid