I first learnt about UTIs sitting in the sunny nurse’s office of my university GP. Though, learning about what to eat for UTI wouldn’t come until many years later.
Having lost my virginity about 12 hours prior, I worried that maybe I’d been wrong about religion after all. Perhaps my burning urine and sore bladder were punishment from God for having sex before marriage. Or, a more sinister thought, perhaps my first boyfriend was riddled with some fast-acting STI that I’d immediately contracted.
So, when the sweet nurse explained to me that I had a ‘urinary tract’ or ‘bladder infection’ and to prevent UTI I ‘just need to pee after sex’ forever more, I was relieved. With no concept of what to eat for UTI, I took a week’s course of antibiotics and continued to have sex, pee, and be more or less fine for the next decade.
● Counting On My Old Friend Antibiotics >>>>
● Chronic UTI Hunkers Down >>>>
● A Clandestine Eating Plan of What to Eat for UTI >>>>
● Taking an Active Role in My Own Recovery >>>>
● The Power of the Body to Heal Itself >>>>
Counting On My Old Friend Antibiotics
Fast forward to April 2019 and I’m in an Uber hearing about my driver’s three daughters. He’s just collected me from the pharmacy. As the driver talks, I clutch my stomach in pain and nod, not listening. I’m exhausted, having stayed up all night doing you-know-what with a man I hardly know. I had to take the 69 bus home — the indignity — and the UTI pain set in thereafter.
I’m optimistic that, after taking the antibiotics in the bag, I’ll be fine. And I am, except then I’m not.
Chronic UTI Hunkers Down
Cut to November 2019, six months later. I’m crying as the kind, tiny female doctor at a private UTI clinic in London nods at the results in front of her, confirming my internet-researched suspicion.
I have what is known as a chronic UTI or CUTI — an infection so resistant to antibiotics that it embeds in the bladder lining and hunkers down like a puritanical assassin, re-emerging again and again after sex, alcohol or even vigorous exercise. I’m crying because I finally feel ‘seen’ by this expensive doctor, after a six-month ordeal with the National Health Service (NHS) here in the UK.
Getting Used to Blank Stares
You see, the NHS doesn’t treat CUTI, or even acknowledge its existence in its guidelines. So, advice concerning what to eat for UTI is so far off the radar it doesn’t register. As such, the blank stare becomes an expression the CUTI-sufferer knows well. Blank stares from the GP, from friends and family. From the Urgent Care doctors who can’t understand why you’re upset to be in their company for five hours overnight yet again.
They chuckle and say, ‘You’ll be okay. It’s just part of being a woman. You need to pee after sex and wipe front to back.’ Usually modest, I’m tempted to print out copies of my CV for them, in the hope somebody, anybody, might take me seriously when I tell them:
‘This isn’t normal. I’ve had six UTIs in less than six months and feel terrible in-between. I used to be a healthy 29-year-old.’ One doctor shouts at me. Another muses, ‘How about coconut water? Indonesian women swear by it.’
Back in the private clinic, the kind, tiny female doctor reassures me that it’ll all be okay. ‘You’ve only had CUTI for six months,’ she chirps cheerily. ‘Count yourself lucky! Some of our patients suffer for decades. It ruins lives!’
The Antibiotics Bring Side Effects
With that, she prints out a prescription for the clinic’s long-term treatment with antibiotics and Hiprex. This clinic believes that a sustained assault on the bacteria hiding in the bladder lining is the only real solution to CUTI.
They’ve been criticized by the NHS for its radical, off-book approach. Appointments cost £200 and emails, £50. Buying all the drugs privately costs even more on top. But I pay willingly, deliriously grateful that there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
I practically skip to my pharmacist the next day and hand over my hardcore prescription.
Her penciled eyebrows rise and she cautions, ‘That’s a lot.’ Fantastic, I think. The heavy paper bag she gives me, so full that it rips apart, signals relief from CUTI at last. I begin to feel better instantly, the high-dose treatment keeping the bladder bugs at bay.
The first thing I notice about my junkie-like regimen is that I hate swallowing so many pills. I gag and spit from the disgusting taste.
The second is the intense yeast infection that comes two days into my nuclear approach. My itchy crotch is the first sign that I might be robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Not one to fall at the first hurdle, however, I chug bottles of kefir and the thrush abates. As does a four-year-old verruca on the sole of my foot. Interesting, I think. Maybe the kefir cured my verruca in a way that the aggressive pharmaceutical treatments I’d been applying for years never could? Unfortunately, I fail to spot the parallel of what to eat for UTI so I continue to down my pills on the daily. For the next two years.
Crying in the London Clinic Again
Cut to November 2021. I’m crying again in my private clinic, but for a different reason. These are not tears of relief, but of frustration. I’ve followed the clinic’s advice with cult-like compliance for two years but I’ve just been told by the same kind, tiny doctor that my results show a clear resurgence of symptoms. My CUTI is fighting back. ‘We don’t know why,’ she shrugs casually. ‘Some of our patients go back and forth for years with it.’
I ask her what to eat for UTI. Shouldn’t I be doing something complementary, like changing my diet? She titters and shakes her head incredulously. ‘No, no, no. Diet makes absolutely no difference. Trust me, some of our patients are elite athletes. Don’t restrict yourself. You have to enjoy your life,’ she says, before changing the subject.
As she peers at me through her glasses smiling, I feel the tears dry on my face and my despair hardens into anger. She’s just lumped me into one of her many ‘patients’ and I hate it. I decide that I never want to see this tiny doctor in her luxuriously furnished office ever again.
A Clandestine Plan of What to Eat for UTI
Privately, I resolve there and then to make a change. Despite following the clinic’s advice, since my experience with the kefir, I’ve been lurking on Reddit forums, researching what to eat for UTI and reading hopeful stories of women who’ve eliminated sugar and processed food and seen a marked improvement in their CUTI symptoms.
The problem, I realize, is that it feels nigh-on impossible to make such major sacrifices without a clear scientific basis, or at least some sense that it’s going to work.
With specialist doctors literally laughing at the idea of a dietary fix, I feel humiliated and gaslit into thinking pharmaceutical solutions are the only way to combat my CUTI.
‘To hell with it,’ I think to myself. ‘What have I got to lose?’
A New Year Knowing What to Eat for UTI
10… 9… 8… It’s the countdown to 2022 and I’m on a hilltop in London with my boyfriend waiting for the fireworks at midnight. I’m nervous. Come the 1st of January, I’ve decided to go cold-turkey on my prescription of antibiotics and Hiprex.
While I’m still technically a ‘patient’ at my local clinic, I’ve been ‘cheating’ on them for three months with a CUTI-specialist nutritionist, who is educating me about what to eat for UTI, once a week over Zoom.
She’s analyzed my microbiome and medical history and offered a compelling theory for why I got a CUTI (and that persistent verruca) to begin with. It seems my standardly Western diet led to my teenage-then-adult acne. Then, the harsh acne treatment I underwent when I was 26 led to a diminished microbiome and immune system thereafter.
Looking back, she also helps me to realize that I became infected with CUTI during a uniquely stressful period of my life. It seems I was depleted and ripe for an infection.
‘If we can rebuild your gut bacteria,’ she tells me, ‘I feel confident that you can come off antibiotics and defeat CUTI naturally. Your body doesn’t want to be sick.’
After the past three years, I finally feel as though someone is explaining CUTI to me in an intuitively logical way, and I feel empowered to play an active role in my own recovery, rather than being the passive consumer of pills and potions. I now understand what to eat for UTI.
Taking an Active Role in My Own Recovery
The nutritionist’s plan progresses week by week. I make the following changes, in order of magnitude:
● Remove processed sugar (in all its forms including ‘natural’ sugars like honey, though I still enjoy sweetness in fresh fruit eaten whole, cooked vegetables, or whole dairy products)
● Eliminate nearly all ultra-processed foods from my diet (so an average meal is meat/fish/dairy plus vegetables and rice or potatoes)
● Reduce alcohol
● Eat at regular mealtimes
● Try to stop eating before 9pm every day
If it sounds spartan, it really isn’t. It requires a bit more cooking and planning, which is difficult, but it’s an enjoyable, tasty and filling diet.
I still have dessert — strawberries and cream is my favorite — and coming off sugar makes it easier to feel full. Alongside dietary changes, the nutritionist prescribes natural antimicrobials, probiotics and other natural remedies to bolster my immune system as it adapts to being drug-free.
Staying Positive About What to Eat for UTI Through the Flares
When my CUTI flares up, as it has done on multiple occasions but with decreasing frequency since the start of the year, the nutritionist tells me to take the natural antimicrobials — one type orally, another type vaginally — as well as to drink lots of corn silk tea with crushed garlic bulbs in it. She tells me to breathe deeply, stay positive and take a bath if I can. The garlic tea is not popular with my boyfriend or my colleagues, but it does the trick.
My flares are not pleasant and can last up to six hours, but miraculously, they pass and normality (genuine, drug-free normality) resumes.
While I’m not flaring, I continue to eat as healthily as possible and have no desire to slip back into my old habits, because now that I know what to eat for UTI, I can see the trouble unhealthy habits got me into before.
The Power of the Body to Heal Itself
Cut to today. I’m sharing my story of discovering what to eat for UTI to highlight the limitations of antibiotics and the power of the body to heal itself (with help!). I strongly recommend finding a nutritionist that has experience with CUTI and entrusting them to give you the practical advice and moral support to embrace what to eat for UTI which, over time, should help you to heal.
Early on in my ‘CUTI journey’ (a phrase I hate even more than being called a ‘patient’), I made the mistake of dismissing dietary changes as ‘woo woo’ or ‘quacky’, trusting blindly in the expertise of highly qualified medical doctors instead.
While I am grateful to the private clinic for providing me with what I wanted at the time (lots of antibiotics unquestioningly and some much-needed moral support), I am retrospectively shocked that what to eat for UTI was so quickly dismissed.
Look at the Cause as well as the Symptoms
If a diesel car were malfunctioning, the first thing a mechanic would check is whether it had been filled with petrol by mistake. Look at the cause, as well as the symptoms. Then, you can begin to understand your condition and play a proactive part in curing it.
Please note that the opinions and advice shared in this story are based on Anna’s personal experience and condition. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or treatment.
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