What to eat when you have a urinary tract infection (UTI)

If you are looking to change diet to help treat your UTI, this article provides a list of food products that may help.

A man and a woman eating food and drinking coffee

Key takeaways:

  • What people eat can influence how their bodies respond to infections like UTIs. 
  • To help treat UTI, consider including cranberries, blueberries, yogurt, broccoli, cocoa products, oranges, soursop, and roselle tea in your diet. 
  • Getting rid of alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, and artificial sweeteners may help with recovery from a urinary tract infection.
  • Habits like drinking enough water, eating a proper diet, practicing toilet hygiene, and going to the toilet when you need to are effective measures to manage UTIs and prevent further infection.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that affects the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, and urethra, and it affects 10 in 1,000 people globally. It is more common in women because of the shorter length of the urethra in people of this sex group.

Bacteria are the main cause of UTIs, which manifest as symptoms like pain in the abdomen and pelvic area, frequent urination, pain while urinating, bloody urine, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

Your doctor will recommend the appropriate medication to treat a UTI. However, food and lifestyle habits can also help treat and eliminate the infection.

Some foods to eat when you have a urinary tract infection include:

1. Cranberries

Consider eating foods like cranberries if you have a urinary tract infection. Cranberries are small red fruits with an acidic taste that overwhelms their sweetness. 

Water makes up a large percentage of this fruit; however, it contains nutrients like carbohydrates, fiber, and other minerals. It contains chemical compounds like A-type proanthocyanidins (PACS), anthocyanins, benzoic acid, and ursolic acid.

Cranberries also contain a chemical compound called flavonoid, which gives the fruit its red color and is a great antioxidant.

Flavonoids work to treat UTIs by preventing bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract. When bacteria are unable to stick to the urinary tract, they cannot grow and cause infection. 

2. Yogurt

Yogurt is a dairy product obtained from fermenting milk. It contains probiotics, which are live microorganisms with beneficial effects on the human body. 

Consuming yogurt replenishes the lactobacillus in women’s vaginas, which, according to reports by researchers, prevents recurrent UTIs.

Lactobacillus is a non-pathogenic bacteria often found in women’s vagina but also present in the urinary tract. It produces lactic acids, which help combat pathogens.

3. Blueberries

Blueberry is another good food option to eat when you have a urinary tract infection. Blueberries are also called superfoods because they are small but contain several nutrients and chemical compounds that benefit the body. 

Blueberry extracts contain tannins, a type of polyphenolic compound that is very active against urinary tract infections, as it prevents the adherence of pathogens to the urinary tract.

This chemical compound in blueberries also prevents infection by preventing bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract.

4. Orange

Orange is a good source of vitamin C, fiber, folate, calcium, and potassium. 

It contains a large amount of an organic compound called d-mannose, which helps treat and prevent UTIs. 

D-mannose may help prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract, thereby preventing infection.

5. Cocoa products

Cocoa products like cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and dark chocolate, which contain more cocoa and less milk, are great for treating and preventing urinary tract infections. 

Research suggests that the bioactive substances found in cocoa, particularly flavonoids, can lower the risk of a variety of conditions, including neurological, inflammatory, immunological, cardiovascular, digestive, and metabolic problems.

These products are also rich in proanthocyanidins, which is a chemical compound responsible for coloring in flowers and fruits. This compound has an antimicrobial property that prevents bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract.

6. Roselle tea or jam

Roselle is a plant also known as Hibiscus sabdafiffa or zobo. It is rich in a chemical compound called anthocyanins, which have antimicrobial effects against UTIs. 

Anthocyanins work by destroying the biofilm of bacteria. A biofilm is a colony of bacteria attached together with the aim of sticking to a surface. The action of this chemical compound prevents these bacteria from sticking to your urinary tract. 

A review article shows that in a clinical trial involving 93 women, taking roselle extract or tea reduced UTI symptoms and their recurrence. Evidence also shows a reduction in the concentration of markers of infection, such as with the consumption of tea.

7. Broccoli

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, like cauliflower and cabbage. It aids digestion and boosts immune health. 

Broccoli is a good food option to consider when you have UTIs because this vegetable contains D-mannose, which helps prevent bacterial adherence to the urinary tract. D-mannose is known to reduce the recurrence of UTI by primarily targeting E.coli.

8. Soursop

Soursop(Annona muricata Li) is a fruit native to the Caribbean and Americas and it has a highly oxidative property. 

This fruit contains flavonoids and has an antibacterial property that acts against E.coli, thereby preventing further growth of bacteria in the urinary tract. 

Reports show that the combination of soursop’s ethanolic extract and antibiotic treatment decreases the potential of antibiotic multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus strains. These two organisms are predominantly associated with UTI.

Foods to avoid when you have UTI

While some foods can help manage UTI, there are also foods you shouldn’t consume, as they may worsen its symptoms.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are chemical products that are sweet, like sugar, but contain fewer calories. Examples include aspartame and saccharin. 

Consuming artificial sweeteners may lead to urinary incontinence (uncontrollable urine leakage), as an observational study shows that the odds of urinary incontinence were 10–12% higher in women who consume 1 to 6 servings of artificial sweetener per week or 1 or more servings per day.


Yes, having a morning coffee is okay, but if you have a UTI, you may need to temporarily stop it. 

Coffee is a diuretic. So, it helps move fluids out of the body, thereby increasing urine production. 

This is not good for people with UTI because it can lead to frequent urination and can even cause temporary urinary incontinence. 


Alcohol is also a diuretic that amplifies frequent urination. It also irritates the bladder as it increases the concentration of the urine. 

If you are actively treating UTI, it is not safe to take alcohol after taking drugs because it can cause some side effects like nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, fainting, headaches, or loss of coordination.

Spicy foods

Consuming spicy foods when you have a UTI can irritate the lining of your bladder and cause an overactive bladder, which is characterized by frequent urination and urinary incontinence. 

Other at-home treatments for UTI

Beyond setting your diet right, there are other simple actions you can take to improve the symptoms of UTI and help treat your infection better. 


To speed healing, drink lots of water or appropriate fluids, like natural fruit juices, to flush out bacteria through urination. 

Medical professionals recommend drinking 8 ounces of liquid daily, and you should see your doctor if you have health issues like urinary incontinence, frequent urination, kidney failure, or heart failure that may prevent you from drinking such an amount of water.

Use the toilet when you need to

It may be a habit to hold in your urine. Well, this isn’t great if you have a UTI or are prone to developing one. 

Holding in urine causes a buildup of bacteria in the urinary tract, increasing the risk of a UTI and keeping bacteria alive for longer. Make it a habit to urinate regularly.

Pee after sex or avoid sex

Women’s urethra are shorter than that of men, and this increases the risk of UTI after sex. Urinating after sex helps to flush out bacteria that may cause future UTIs. The scientific evidence in favor of this is, however, sparse. 

It is recommended to avoid sex when you have a UTI because it can prolong healing and potentially cause another infection. 

Wipe yourself from front to back

When using toilet paper to wipe yourself after defecating, do so from front to back, as it is the most hygienic and effective way. This is to prevent the spread of bacteria from the rectum to the vagina and urethra.

Final words

UTIs are bacterial infections that affect millions of people annually. In addition to prescribed medications, consider making dietary changes to help treat and manage the condition.

Food products like cranberries, yogurt, blueberries, roselle tea, broccoli, and cocoa products may help treat and/or prevent recurrent UTIs.

You may also need to avoid or limit alcohol, coffee, and spicy foods, as they irritate your bladder and can make some of your symptoms worse. Hydrating, personal hygiene, and regular urination are other effective tips for managing UTIs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can eating certain foods help prevent UTIs?

Yes, eating certain foods can help manage or prevent UTIs. For instance, consuming plant-based products and drinking a sufficient amount of water may play a role in preventing UTIs.

What are home remedies for UTI pain?

Home remedies that may help with UTI pain include using a heat compress on your pelvis to relieve cramps and avoiding foods that irritate your bladder to prevent any further pain.


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