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Vego Diet More Successful In Preventing A UTI Than Cranberry Juice

A vegetarian diet could lower a person's risk of developing a urinary tract infection, a new international study has found. 

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common bacterial infections in Australia and around the world.

Around one in two women and one in 20 men will contract a UTI in their lifetime, according to the Victorian government's department of health.

UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply in the bladder. According to figures cited in the Taiwanese study, between 65 and 75 per cent of infections are caused by a type of bacteria called Escherichia coli, or E. coli.

e coli
A close up photo of E.coli, one of the most common causes of a UTI. Photo: Getty.

Recent studies have found meat, such as poultry and pork, is a "major reservoir" for strains of E. coli. But the authors suggest no previous research has looked at whether avoiding meat lowers the risk of developing a UTI.

The researchers, from a university in Taiwan, followed over 9,000 Buddhists -- including 3,040 vegetarians and 6,684 non-vegetarians -- between 2005 and 2014, and looked at the role of a vegetarian diet on various health outcomes.

Over ten years, 217 of the surveyed vegetarians developed a UTI compared to 441 cases among the non-vegetarians. The authors calculated the overall risk of contraction was 16 percent lower in vegetarians than in non-vegetarians -- particularly among females.

"The authors suggest that by not eating common sources of E. coli, such as poultry and pork, vegetarians may avoid ingesting E. coli that may cause UTIs," a statement said.

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The results were published in the Scientific Reports journal on Friday.

The authors also proposed that eating more fibre, which they claim is common among many vegetarians, could prevent the growth of E. coli in the gut, also decreasing their UTI risk by making the intestine more acidic.

The study acknowledged the association between a vegetarian diet and UTI risk was mainly in 'uncomplicated' cases -- where patients are otherwise healthy and have no structural or neurological urinary tract abnormalities that would predispose them to infection.

Uncomplicated cases of UTI are particularly common among young women.

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