Did you know that a proper diet is so important in ensuring the proper functioning of the urinary tract system?
The urinary system, also known as the renal system, produces, stores and eliminates urine, the fluid waste excreted by the kidneys. The kidneys make urine by filtering waste and extra water from blood. Urine travels from the kidneys through two thin tubes called ureters and fills the bladder. When the bladder is full, a person urinates through the urethra to eliminate the waste.
The urinary system is susceptible to a variety of infections and other problems, including blockages and injuries, the reason one is advised include certain types of food in their regular diet for the system to function well.
For instance, diseases like bladder cancer can be avoided if one feeds on broccoli. Also, taking plenty of water daily maintains the health of urinary track as it aids in the removal of waste from the body.
Fruits and vegetables
“Fruits and vegetables are the main sources of antioxidant nutrients that promote the body’s ability to defend itself from infections. They also keep harmful bacteria from binding onto the bladder, as well as prevent urinary tract infections (UTI),”says Dr Francis Kazungu, a general practitioner in Kigali.
Dr Kazungu adds that fruits and vegetables such as water melon, asparagus, eggplant and berries also help in purification of the kidney.
Fruits also increase urine production thus reducing edema (fluid retention in the tissue) in cases of kidney and cardiac diseases.
“Such fruits and vegetables contain little or no sodium, yet they are rich in potassium which contributes to the diuretic effect,” he says.
According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, people who ate at least two 1/2-cup servings of broccoli per week reduced their risk of developing bladder cancer by 44 per cent.
Other kinds of vegetables like cabbage, sprouts, cauliflower and kale also help when it comes to lowering bladder cancer risk.
Dr Kazungu also says that limiting animal meaty foods is important since it prevents one from developing kidney stones.
He further explains that consuming fiber-rich foods is vital as it prevents one from developing UTI symptoms.
“More fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, and less refined foods, such as white bread, reduce UTI symptoms. Nutritious whole grain like pasta, brown rice and bread provide antioxidants, such as vitamin E, which protects bladder from cancer and other illnesses,” he adds.
Dr Kazungu advises that one should always consume foods which are low in sodium, and this can be easily achieved by consuming unprocessed plant-based ingredients that contain little sodium and more potassium. This peculiar mineral proportion favours the production of urine, therefore, the diet should be seasoned sparingly.
“Drinking plenty of water helps cleanse the bladder. Diets rich in vitamin C such as guava and citrus fruits help in making the urine more alkaline thus preventing growth of bacteria,” says Dr Rachna Pande, a medic at Ruhengeri Hospital.
She adds that drinking soda with water serves the same purpose, but cautions that the baking soda used should not be more than 1/2 to one tea spoonful in a glass of water.
Pande further notes that alcohol, carbonated drinks, excess of spices normally irritate the bladder, aggravating symptoms of UTIs. Traditionally, cranberry juice is said to help cure UTI.
Wearing lose undergarments, going to toilet at frequent intervals is also useful.
For Joseph Uwiragiye, a nutritionist at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), proteins especially those from animal meat, should be limited.
“Keeping lower proportions of proteins is essential. Rather, one should opt for plant-based foods like legumes which generally have a lower concentration of protein. Besides, plant-based protein does not overwork renal functions, therefore making it ideal for consumption,” he says.
He says that a diet of plant-based foods is always helpful in preventing the formation of kidney stones. However, avoiding certain plant-based foods like cashews and peanuts that are rich in oxalic acid is advisable since they can put the kidneys at risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones.