What really works to prevent urinary tract infections, night sweats, irregular periods, migraines, cancer, heart disease, and more.
Lorie A. Parch
3 of 9 | CRANBERRY (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
BEST FOR: Prevention of UTIs. For reasons that aren't well understood, women are more likely than men to develop a urinary tract infection (UTI). In fact, one in five women will get one in her lifetime, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Some women are more prone to UTIs than others—diaphragm users, for instance, are at a high risk—and almost 20 percent of women who develop one will eventually develop another. Most infections arise from an overgrowth of E. coli bacteria in the urethra (urethritis) and/or bladder (cystitis). Cranberry prevents bacteria from adhering to the walls of either organ, making it difficult for infection to take hold. It will not, however, kill the bacteria once they're established; in that case, only prescription antibiotics can provide relief. HOW TO TAKE IT: Johnson recommends drinking at least one eight-ounce glass of cranberry juice a day. Choose a high-quality juice with a large concentration of cranberry; Northland brand, for instance, contains up to 27 percent cranberry. Pure unsweetened cranberry juice is available in health food and vitamin stores, but it's so tart that it's hard to drink. The recommended dosage is 15 to 30 milliliters per day; you can dilute it in water to improve the flavor. "You can also take cranberry capsules," says Johnson. "But studies show the effects aren't as strong." SAFETY ISSUES: There are no known medical precautions to consider when drinking cranberry juice, but if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease or a peptic ulcer, the acidity may aggravate your symptoms.