A vegetarian diet can help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs)? Studying Taiwanese buddhists revealed a connection between plant-based foods and a lower risk of UTIs, so researchers suggest this might be the case.
Dr. Chin-Lon Lin — from the cardiology department at Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital in Chiayi County, Taiwan — is the study’s first reporter.
UTIs are hugely common. Every year, around 150 million people develop a UTI, according to worldwide estimates.
Dr Lin and his colleagues demonstrate in their paper that most UTIs are caused by Escherichia coli. Several recent studies have found E strains. Coli contributing to UTIs are isolated from intestinal strains and common commensal strains and are likely to occur in poultry.
So, the researchers hypothesized that vegetarians should have less exposure to UTI-causing strains of E because they avoid eating meat. coli.
Until now, no research has investigated this matter, the authors write, so Dr. Lin and the team set out to do so.
They now have their results published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Studying UTIs and the vegetarian diet
The researchers conducted a prospective study of 9,724 Buddhists between 2005 and 2014, to examine the link between vegetarian diets and the risk of developing UTIs.
At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had a UTI but 661 of them developed one during the 10-year follow-up period.
The researchers evaluated diets of the participants using a questionnaire on food frequency.
We then used model Cox regression to explore the link between vegetarian diets and risk of UTI while controlling for potential confounders. These included age, sex, education, consumption of alcohol, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and other factors and conditions that might predispose someone to UTI.
A 16% lower risk of UTIs
Their study found that a 16 percent lower risk of developing a UTI was correlated with the vegetarian diet.
Of the 3,040 vegetarians in total, 217 had formed a UTI. Of the non-vegetarians 6,684, 444 developed an UTI.
This association was stronger for women, people who had never smoked, and “uncomplicated UTIs.”
“In conclusion,” the authors of the study write, “the vegetarian diet is protectively associated with UTI especially in females and for uncomplicated UTI[s].”
“In order to clarify the relationship between UTI risk, pathogens and vegetarian diet, further study with identifying pathogens from urine culture is required,” they add.
Limitations of the study
The authors note other drawbacks to their analysis as well. For example, they relied on the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision to identify UTIs, rather than “clinical symptoms and laboratory testing, including pyuria and urine culture.”
Second, there may still be confounding factors affecting the results, such as water intake, sexual intercourse, and even honeydew melon intake— which some studies have suggested may contain t Coli. Coli.
However, because the analysis used only a questionnaire about the food level, it could not determine exactly which phytochemicals were covered against UTI.
Possible explanations for the findings
The study was observed, and was unable to establish causality. The authors however speculate on some possible mechanisms that may explain the findings, including fiber metabolization.
Vegetarians are likely to consume more fiber, and anaerobic microflora metabolize fiber in the intestine to produce short-chain fatty acids that decrease the pH of the gut.
They do tend to eat more plant foods, including phytochemicals. These are compounds that “as well as anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant factors, have been shown to have antibacterial activity,” Dr. Lin and colleagues conclude.