Going vegan lowers risk of urinary tract infection

February 3, 2020

Ditching meat and going vegan may reduce your risk of suffering from a urinary tract infection (UTI), a new study conducted at Tzu Chi University in Taiwan has found.

Indeed, according to a report by News Medical, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are most often caused caused by bacteria, such as Escherichia coli (E.coli)— which is normally found in the gut, but enters the urinary tract through the urethra.

Past studies have established that meat is a major reservoir for the E. coli strains that cause UTI, but it researchers could not confirm that avoiding eating meat could lower UTI risk. The latest study, published in the journal, Scientific Reports, found that vegetarians have a lower incidence of UTIs than those who eat meat.

To arrive at their findings, the team assessed the incidence of UTIs in more than 9,700 Buddhists in Taiwan, all of whom participated in the Tzu Chi Vegetarian Study, which looked at the connection between a vegetarian diet and chronic degenerative diseases. The researchers followed the participants for ten years—and found that vegans were 16% less likely to develop a UTI than their meat-eating counterparts, News Medical reports.

The team used a 57-item food frequency questionnaire to assess the patients’ dietary habits. After analyzing the diets of men and women separately, the team found that the reduced risk of UTI associated with a vegetarian diet was greater in men than in women. However, women are far more likely to be burdened with cystitis generally. The overall UTI risk for men was 79% lower than for women, regardless of diet.  

Overall, women were 18% less likely to develop UTI if they went vegan.

Research contact: @NewsMedical

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