UTI spread from your food

Roma Kunde
Roma Kunde
May 31, 2023
min read
Technically reviewed by: 
Diagnox Staff
UTI spread from your food

Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are one of the most common infections —  with 50% to 60% lifetime incidence — among adult women. You’re more likely to contract a UTI as you get older, and that risk almost doubles in women older than 65 years.

Every year, UTIs result in more than one million emergency department visits and 100,000 hospital admissions. All of this adds up to more than $4 billion in annual healthcare costs.

In younger women, the most common cause of UTIs is increased sexual activity. In older women, however, UTIs often result from other infections and catheterization. Kidney and bladder infections can cause UTIs in all age groups. The most common symptoms of UTIs include painful, burning, or difficult urination with or without fever and chills.

A Hidden Cause of UTIs: Food

You’re most likely to contract a UTI from common strains of the bacterium called Escherichia coli or E. coli. Although more than 700 strains of E. coli have been identified, most of them won’t get you sick. However, the ones that do are slowly becoming resistant to most medications. So, it’s particularly important to understand which strains cause infections and how they’re transmitted to the body to minimize the spread of UTIs.

One of the least-explored avenues of bacterial transfer is food. All farm animals contain E. coli in their gut. When these animals are slaughtered and prepared for cooking, their gut bacteria can contaminate the meat you eat as well as your kitchen surfaces as you prepare food.

According to a research, 80 to 90% of the urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by the bacteria called Escherichia coli (E. coli).

A recent 2023 study found that foodborne E. coli strains detected in animals cause as many as 8% of infections, which equals 640,000 annually. After studying E. coli cultures in meat and urine samples using DNA sequencing, the researchers found a significant overlap between the strains found in poultry and those that cause UTIs in humans. So, oversights while handling meat during meal preparation can be a major source of UTIs.

Now that you know about this hidden cause of UTIs, what measures can you take to minimize your risk of getting one?

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How to Prevent UTIs

Here are some tips to prevent UTIs:

  • Pay attention to kitchen hygiene and regularly clean up. Bacteria like E. coli, which are present in meat liquids, can transfer from counter surfaces and kitchen utensils like knives and spatulas to your food, resulting in an infection. Clean and disinfect your countertops and high-touch surfaces thoroughly after handling meat products. Avoid touching your face or other surfaces while preparing uncooked meat. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap to get rid of any bacteria to eliminate the risk of it being transferred to your body.
  • Cook your meat well. E. coli cannot tolerate high temperatures, so cooking meat properly can kill unwanted bacteria.
  • Drink sufficient fluids, especially water. By drinking around six or more cups of water per day, you’ll be able to urinate often and thus clear out any UTI-causing bacteria.
  • Consider taking cranberry supplements. Cranberries can help protect your urinary tract from bacteria and prevent recurrent UTIs. They are high in antioxidants and have bacteriostatic properties. Research shows that cranberry juice and supplements are excellent means of preventing a UTI.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene. One way UTIs spread is through poop. In women, the anus is quite close to the urethral opening, so E. coli from your digested food can travel to your urinary tract, causing a UTI. Always wipe from front to back to avoid the risk of spreading the bacteria.
  • Urinate and wash after sex. Flushing out all the surrounding bacteria that may have entered your urinary tract and vagina during penetrative sexual intercourse is essential to prevent UTIs. Urinating and cleaning your privates with water after sex helps combat pathogenic bacteria.
Make sure to maintain clean and dry surfaces, regularly sanitize commonly touched areas, such as faucet handles and toilet flush levers, and store personal hygiene items separately to minimize the spread of bacteria.

Diagnose UTIs at Home

If you need to diagnose UTIs and monitor your kidney and liver health at home, try Diagnox Health’s Urinox-10 at-home urine test strips. This quick, simple-to-use urine dipstick test measures ten parameters. It is FDA-cleared and gives you accurate and reliable results every time.

Urinox-10 urine test strips evaluate ten parameters in urine for diagnosing diseases, infections like UTIs and monitoring health, making them suitable for both clinical and at-home use.

If you’d like more information or helpful health tips, check out our blogs on urinary tract health.

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  6. Mayo Clinic Staff, “5 tips to prevent a urinary tract infection,” Mayo Clinic Health System. [Online], Available: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/5-tips-to-prevent-a-urinary-tract-infection. [Accessed May 03, 2023].

About the Author
Roma Kunde

Roma Kunde is a freelance content writer with a biotechnology and medical background. She has completed her B. Tech in Biotechnology and has a certificate in Clinical Research. She has 6 years of writing and editing experience in fields such as biomedical research, food/lifestyle, website content, marketing, and NGO services. She has written blog articles for websites related to construction chemicals, current affairs, marketing, medicine, and cosmetics.

About the Reviewer
This blog was
Technically reviewed by: 
Diagnox Staff

Diagnox Staff consists of a multidisciplinary team of scientists, content writers, and healthcare professionals with an expertise to create and review high-quality, informative, accurate, and easy-to-understand content for both professionals and everyday readers. Our staff follows strict guidelines to ensure the credibility and authenticity of the information, reviewing them independently and verifying them by various scientific and technical sources to ensure accuracy. Our review team believes in delivering knowledge free from bias to improve public health and well-being.

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