Do you consider yourself a carnivorous eater? Do you also suffer from a urinary tract infection more than once or twice a year? Well, you might want to think twice before sinking your teeth into that juicy chicken breast or sizzling steak.
A new study has found a link between urinary tract infections (UTIs) and a common bacteria found in meat and poultry. This could be bad news for those who love their meaty meals, but it’s important information that could provide answers to those who get UTI’s quite frequently.
It can also give new insight as to how to prevent them from happening in the future. Read on to learn more about this groundbreaking study and what it means for meat-eaters everywhere.
More than half a million Urinary Tract Infections may be caused by unsuspecting bacteria.
If you’re prone to urinary tract infections even when you do everything you can to prevent them from happening — like taking showers instead of baths, staying hydrated, and urinating after sex — it might be time to change up what you eat.
Lance Price, PhD, who is the senior study author, co-director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center and Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at GWU states-
“It’s pretty surprising, given that this kind of E. coli is not actively monitored in the food supply or among food-production animals by the USDA, FDA, or CDC in the United States.”
In this study, scientists examined the DNA of almost 1,200 samples of E. Coli taken from the urine and blood of infected individuals, as well as the DNA of more than 1,900 samples of E. coli from raw meat including chicken, turkey, and pork.
How Could Eating Meat Lead to a Urinary Tract Infection?
The link between eating meat and poultry and UTI’s is thought to be due to the presence of the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli). E. coli is a common bacteria found in the intestines of animals, including cows and chickens, which can contaminate the meat during slaughter and processing.
When people consume meat or poultry contaminated with E. coli, the bacteria can survive in the digestive tract and potentially spread to the urinary tract, causing an infection.
This new research suggests that consuming contaminated meat and poultry may also be a significant contributing factor.
There are hundreds of different strains of E. coli, and most are thought to be harmless, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But some strains can cause infections, including strains that come from animals.
These infections happen when bacteria enter the urethra and travel to the urinary tract, according to the CDC. UTIs are more common in women, and are also more likely to occur in people with a history of previous UTIs, sexually active individuals, older adults, young children, and people who have poor hygiene (like kids going through potty training).
UTIs are typically caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract through the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body.
Factors such as poor hygiene, sexual activity, and certain medical conditions can also increase the risk of developing a UTI.
Common UTI symptoms include pain or burning sensations during urination, frequent urination, bloody urine, and pressure or cramping in the groin or abdomen.
Bladder infections are the most common type of UTI, but they can also lead to kidney infections that can be more serious and involve symptoms such as fever, chills, lower back pain, nausea, and vomiting.
How to Prevent a Urinary Tract Infection
With this new information surfacing, here are some new guidelines on how to protect yourself:
- Wash your hands!
- Keep other foods away from areas where you handle raw meat.
- Use separate cutting boards, knives, and bowls just for raw meat.
- Cook meat thoroughly.
- Buy meat products that are labeled “raised without antibiotics” or “USDA organic” because if these foods do contain E. coli, it’s less likely to be a strain that is resistant to treatment with antibiotics.
- Always wash cutting surfaces thoroughly when preparing food.
- Also wash your vegetables and salads thoroughly.
There are several other ways to prevent UTIs, according to the CDC:
- Urinate after sexual activity.
- Stay well hydrated.
- Take showers instead of baths.
- Limit douches, sprays or powders in the genital area.
- Wipe front to back after using the bathroom.
While this new study may be cause for concern, it’s important to remember that UTIs are a common and treatable infection. By practicing good hygiene, staying hydrated, and cooking meat and poultry to the appropriate temperature, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing a UTI.
As always, if you suspect you have a UTI or any other health concern, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider. With this new information in hand, we can all make informed choices about our food and health, and hopefully prevent UTIs from putting a damper on our meat-loving lifestyles.
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