Summer presents increased challenges for maintaining urinary tract health. An increase in swimming, consuming more sugary drinks, and dehydration can be contributing factors.
Urinary Tract Basics
The urinary tract, the body’s drainage system for removing liquid waste, consists of the kidneys, ureters that connect the kidneys to the bladder, the bladder, urethra and sphincter muscles. The kidneys filter blood and produce urine – filtering 120 – 150 quarts of blood a day! (NOTE: Healthy blood flow is needed to help the kidneys do their job.) Ureters are thin tubes of muscle that carry urine from kidneys to the bladder. The bladder stores urine, which empties out through the urethra. Sphincter muscles keep the urine in the bladder and relax when we urinate.
Kidneys have some extra jobs to do, so keeping them healthy is really critical for our health. They create hormones that help regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells, and help keep bones strong.
Fluid and Nutritional Support
Flushing waste from the body efficiently requires a good intake of water, especially when summer heat and outdoor activities can release a lot of fluid through sweat. Remember to go easy on the salt, though, so you won’t retain too much fluid.
You also want to watch your intake of coffee, tea, alcohol and carbonated beverages, and especially sweetened beverages. Overindulgence in these can be hard on the kidneys. Other beverages to enjoy in moderation include acidic fruit juices, including tomato juice.
Cranberries contain compounds called proanthocyanidins that help support cells lining the urethra and the bladder – good for the health of the urinary tract. Blueberries are also good for urinary tract health, as are plain Greek yoghurt, kefir, fermented foods, plant-based protein, vitamin C and probiotics. Conversely, high-fat diets can stress kidneys as they can slow down healthy blood flow.
Swimming, Sweat, Showering and Clothes
Although swimming is often blamed for causing urinary tract problems, the more likely culprit is staying in a wet bathing suit long after the swim. Pools, lakes and even oceans can harbor germs, and keeping them close to your body in a warm, moist environment next to the entrance to your urinary tract is unwise. To preserve urinary tract health, get out of your wet suit after you swim, then shower and put on dry clothes – preferably cotton underwear and comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. Do the same after strenuous exercise or outdoor activities. Wash your bathing suit and exercise clothes after each use, and try to use gentle laundry products, shampoo and body wash to help prevent irritation and protect sensitive skin.
Overall Health for Urinary Tract Health
Many things that are good for overall health contribute to supporting a healthy urinary tract. The cardiovascular system is important for maintaining healthy blood flow to the kidneys and other organs, so do all you can to keep your heart healthy and maintain normal blood pressure. A healthy immune system will help keep your urinary tract and all body systems protected.
Regular exercise is important for maintaining healthy weight and muscle strength. Kegel exercises are helpful for women to strengthen sphincter muscles, and men should pay attention to prostate health, as enlarged prostate can restrict urine flow. If you find yourself needing to urinate frequently at night, a sedentary lifestyle might be a contributing factor – so try to increase walking and exercise. And of course, stopping smoking is good for urinary and overall health.
Urinate Fully and Often
Make sure you urinate when you feel the urge, as often as reasonably possible, and be sure to take the time to fully empty your bladder. It’s advisable to urinate before and after: swimming, exercise, sex, dancing and sitting for long periods of time – for example, while traveling.
UT Soothe™ supports urinary tract health and function, gut microbiome balance, and immune system function.
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