Bananas are among the most popular sources of potassium.
We know very well that our urinary system regulates electrolytes and works with this nutrient.
Is that why some people recommend bananas for a urinary tract infection?
The answer is even more interesting, and we invite you to find out by reading this article.
By the end of this reading, you will understand the pros and cons of consuming bananas for urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Over ten million Americans annually consult their physicians for urinary tract problems.
Since bananas are so easy to find and affordable, can they help us progress in this type of disease? Let’s find out.
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About urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections, as the name implies, are diseases in which a microorganism colonizes a urinary tract organ. Urinary tract inflammation ensues, and pain ensues along with other symptoms.
Generally, urinary tract infections affect the urinary bladder. But sometimes, they can also involve the kidney. Thus they are referred to as lower or upper infections, respectively.
When the bladder is affected, the most common symptoms are a burning sensation in the urine, pelvic pain, urgency, and sometimes urinary incontinence.
When the kidney is affected, the symptoms are mainly back pain, pus in the urine, and fever. We will summarize these features in the following table:
|Lower urinary tract infection symptoms||Upper urinary tract infections symptoms|
|Pain, burning, or discomfort when urinating||Pain or discomfort in your lower back|
|Urgency, or a sudden urge to void||A high temperature (fever) and chills|
|A sensation of incomplete bladder emptying||Fatigue, weakness, or tiredness|
|Foul-smelling and cloudy urine||Diarrhea|
|Blood in the urine||Malaise or a general sense of not feeling well|
Are bananas good for a urinary tract infection?
The nutrients in bananas are beneficial to our bodies. Eating bananas moderately can contribute to general well-being and even improve some symptoms of urinary tract infection.
However, consuming them in excess may cause problems, as you will see below.
How much is too much? Some patients with kidney disease may need to avoid bananas altogether. In a healthy person, 7 bananas make you reach your potassium daily intake. But then, you could overload your system with the rest of the foods in your diet. That’s why the general recommendation is one or two bananas a day.
But don’t get us wrong. Bananas are considered a healthy food. They have vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and dietary fiber, among other nutrients. This can be very useful in some cases, but an excess can cause a problem, too.
Let’s take potassium as an example. This nutrient, as we know, is essential for kidney health.
By consuming enough potassium, we can decrease the risk of kidney stones, for example. Without stones passing through the urinary tract, they won’t ear down the urethra and ureters, and the structures remain intact.
However, other studies have found that too much potassium may be counterproductive. People taking excessive potassium sources may experience hypersensitivity and bladder irritation.
The urinary tract becomes overly sensitive, and symptoms of urinary tract infections increase. However, this does not happen to everyone.
According to data in this study, it is more common in:
- Patients with interstitial cystitis, with 85% of potassium hypersensitivity
- A hypersensitive bladder, with 41% worsening symptoms
- Detrusor overactivity, with 18% of patients experiencing more intense symptoms
- And only 8% of cases in patients with lower urinary tract symptoms
So, are bananas good for urinary tract infections? Some banana nutrients are very beneficial, while others should not be consumed in excess.
Let’s evaluate the benefits of bananas in two different scenarios: before a UTI and when we already have symptoms.
Benefits of bananas for UTIs
As mentioned, we can evaluate the effectiveness of foods and supplements in two scenarios.
First, before we have an infection, i.e., primary prevention. Second, once we already have symptoms of urinary tract infection, i.e., as a natural remedy or as a diet to alleviate symptomatic disease.
Potassium prevents UTIs
As mentioned above, all the nutrients in bananas are considered healthy. We discussed the example of potassium, which can help in prevention.
Potassium in bananas can prevent urinary tract infections by reducing the risk of kidney stones.
Vitamin C protects against infection
Another essential nutrient is vitamin C. This vitamin acts at the level of the immune system and in other parts of the body.
In the immune system, vitamin C promotes the proliferation of white blood cells, which protect the body against infection.
It also promotes the production of antibodies, substances our body uses to attack bacteria and viruses.
That is why it is very common to think of vitamin C as an aid to prevent urinary tract infections as well.
We could even say it will strengthen the immune system to cope with the threat and help eliminate urinary infections.
However, although this view is very rational, there needs to be studies to confirm this. Some reviews show it is not very effective for this particular use.
Instead, the same authors list probiotics and cranberry juice, supplements, and similar products as more likely to be effective.
Fiber improves bowel movements
Another nutrient worth noting is fiber. Often urinary tract infections are related to constipation, as hard stools cause bladder pressure and exacerbate symptoms.
Being rich in fiber, bananas can help regulate intestinal transit and improve bowel movement, which may reduce urinary tract infection symptoms.
This view makes a lot of sense, but it has yet to be scientifically proven.
Zinc strengthens the immune system
A fourth nutrient found in bananas is zinc. Zinc supplements strengthen the immune system in a different way than vitamin C. In this case, it acts as a cofactor in white blood cell metabolism enzymes.
This nutrient has a scientific backup to support its use in urinary tract infections. This nutrient acts in the second scenario, i.e., treating urinary tract infections.
Individuals who take zinc supplements along with their medical treatment with an antibiotic have a faster positive response than those who do not take it.
However, we must keep in mind that zinc can cause abdominal pain. Therefore, using zinc as an adjuvant may be unsuitable if you have recurrent stomach cramps and abdominal pains.
The nutrients in bananas are all beneficial to our bodies. Eating bananas moderately can contribute to general well-being and even improve some symptoms of urinary tract infection.
However, bananas are not a dietary cure and in no way replace medical treatment with antibiotics.
It is not superior to cranberry juice and other proven home remedies for urinary tract health.
Some of the bananas’ nutrients, such as potassium, act mainly by preventing urinary calculi. Others, such as zinc, work with medical treatment to speed the healing process.
Here’s a summary of critical nutrients in bananas and how they may serve for urinary tract infections:
- Fiber relieves gastrointestinal problems, which can exacerbate the pain of a urinary tract infection.
- Vitamin C can strengthen the immune system, which may help in the case of urinary tract infections. However, this effect is not scientifically proven.
- Potassium may help prevent kidney stones and decrease the risk of urinary tract infections. But too much potassium can intensify your UTI symptoms if you already have an ongoing infection.
- Zinc helps your immune system and is an excellent complement to medical treatment. Although it promotes resolution of the problem, it can cause abdominal pain in some people.