Drinking a glass of cranberry juice a day keeps urinary tract infections (UTIs) away, or so goes the home remedy folklore. Until recently, however, the science on the benefits of cranberry beverages has been a bit thin.
Now, a team led by Terri A. Camesano and Yuanyuan Tao of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Massachusetts, has demonstrated that drinking cranberry juice can prevent Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and other UTI-causing bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract and forming biofilms in it.
The work was presented at the ACS national meeting in San Francisco during a Division of Colloid & Surface Chemistry poster session on Monday evening.
The researchers had volunteers drink either water or cranberry juice cocktail and then studied the effects of their urine on the bacteria. Using an atomic force microscope probe, they measured the bacteria's ability to adhere—a beginning step necessary for the biofilm formation seen in UTIs. Urine from volunteers who drank cranberry juice cocktail prevented bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation. Bacteria treated with urine from volunteers who drank water, on the other hand, were still able to stick to the probe and form biofilms.
Cranberry juice's UTI-fighting power lasts between six and 24 hours after it's consumed, Camesano says. She also notes that diet cranberry juice was just as effective as the sugared stuff, so it's possible to ward off infection without worrying about your waistline.