Answers to Your Beverage Questions

Q: Does cranberry juice help prevent bladder infections?
A: Maybe. Cranberries contain two compounds that seem to prevent bacteria from sticking to cells in the kidney, bladder, and other parts of the urinary tract. The effect of cranberries on the acidity of urine may also reduce the rate of infections. Although we need more studies for clear answers, most experts say that cranberry juice may help prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in women who are prone to them. Cranberries seem ineffective, however, against infections that already exist.
Q: Is it true that alcohol can affect blood pressure?
A: Yes. Health experts recommend drinking no more than one standard drink a day for women and no more than two standard drinks per day for men. A standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. You should follow these same recommendations to lower your risk of cancer. However, the most important lifestyle influences affecting blood pressure are weight control, regular exercise, limiting sodium consumption, and getting enough potassium. If your blood pressure is still affected by drinking alcohol within these limits, talk to your physician. 
Q: Are the many juice, tea and water drinks with herbs and other natural supplements smart choices?
A: No. First, a drink could contain so little of the added ingredients that no effect is possible. Second, if you have any chronic medical conditions or take medications, let your doctor know if you decide to use these supplements. Products with significant amounts of added ingredients—even if they are natural—can interact with drugs or affect medical conditions. Third, it’s usually less expensive to choose regular foods and buy herbs or nutritional supplements separately than to pay for products to which they’ve been added. Fourth, a balanced, plant-based diet offers a vast abundance of different vitamins, minerals and natural phytochemicals which no herb or supplement can replace. For better health and lower cancer risk, it is far better to spend your money on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans.
Q: How much difference does it make whether I drink regular or light beer?
A: A 12-ounce serving of regular beer runs about 140 to 150 calories, whereas light beers contain from 95 to 110 calories. Dark beers and ales range from 150 to 170 calories, while nonalcoholic beers run about 45 to 75 calories for the same 12-ounce portion. It’s the calorie content that matters for weight control. Beer’s impact on your overall health, however, relates largely to the alcohol content, which is barely influenced by a lower-calorie content. The alcohol content of light beer is only slightly less than regular beers. To lower your risk of cancer and safeguard your health, women should have no more than 12 ounces of beer a day and men no more than 24 ounces—whether the beer is regular or light.

Of course, the healthiest drink for you isn't anything fancy.  It's water!  Read "Water is a Secret Ingredient" to find out why.
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Member Comments

Good article. Report
All I know is, I was in and out of the hospital many times in my 20's with kidney infections, and once a nurse brought me some cranberry juice, and I have to say, I noticed a big difference, now whenever I feel a bladder, kidney or uti, coming on, I start drinking cranberry juice daily, and I use the cranberry tablets. Report
So, does vitacoco or any coconut water fall under "juice, tea and water drinks with herbs and other natural supplements smart choices"? I am a runner and rely on that a lot of re-fueling besides Gatorade. Report
I gave up alcohol almost a year ago, and I am feeling a whole lot better. I only drink 2 20oz bottles of diet soda a month as a treat. Water with Crystal lite and lots of green tea are my staples everyday. For some people drinking water is a chore, but I've learned to love it. It's just one of the many adjustments you have to make for a healthier lifestyle. Report
After getting a UTI on vacation in Hawaii, not knowing what it was, and not dealing with it for about 5 days before I got back... and having it advance to a really awful kidney infection- I can say, the advice of my doc (along with prescription antibiotics - which is why docs are a MUST for uti's!) was to drink a LOT of fluid, and pure non-artificially sweetened cranberry juice. I now drink a glass of cranberry juice a few times a week, just in case. Report
The brand AZO makes a cranberry extract pill to help with re-occurring UTI's. It works really well & saves you the calories - especially since most cranberry juice has a lot less "juice" than you'd expect. For me it even speeds up how quick I get rid of a UTI. Report
I've had recurrent UTI's since I was in jr. high school and swear by Cranberry and WATER! Nothing will give me an infection faster than letting myself get dehydrated! Now, I take one cranberry supplement daily and drink at least 8 cups of water daily - never have UTI's unless I get stressed and miss my water! If I DO have symptoms, I can usually take additional cranberry tabs and get over symptoms. BUT if symptoms persist past a day or so, I go to the doc. Report
Great no nonsense article, thanks! Report
I swear by cranberry juice for UTI's - though you probably should see a doctor too, especially if it's your first (or second) time! Thanks for the good info about interstitial cystitis.

In my vast experience, any kind of RED cranberry juice drink works - I usually get some sort of juice blend "cocktail," never 100% cranberry. But once I tried "white cranberry juice cocktail" and it didn't work at all. The cranberry pills seem to work too, though you never know what you're getting in supplements.

Speaking of juice, I'm a big fan of homemade juice soda - 1 cup or less juice (any kind) with enough club soda or mineral water to fill up a tall glass. Less sugar, a lighter taste, and a little fiz for excitement!
Thanks for the info. Cranberry juice has been used for urinary health in our family for many years. I used it with white grape juice for a couple of our little girls who were having the starting of a problem. It seemed to help, of course I pushed drinking more water also. Report
Cranberry juice IS effective in keeping the bladder PH to where it helps to prevent UTI's. HOWEVER, the adage, " if a little is good, alot is better" does NOT work with this treatment. ONE glass a day can be effective, more negates any affect one might have. Report
I have used cranberry capsules from the nutritional supplement section of your local Walmart for years. After one particularly bad UTI where the Dr. gave me an ineffective antibiotic, I asked him about the cranberry juice method. He told me that the amount of cranberry juice needed was close to 1/2 gallon per day. I absolutely cannot drink that much cranberry juice in a day as it irritates my stomach, that is when I switched to the cranberry capsules. I take two several times a day with 12-16 ounces of water., when symtomes start and continue for a week Please remember that I did this with my dr's knowledge and blessing. my dr is an osteopath and open to alternative and natural healing methods. Report
Speaking from experience: Cranberry juice exacerbates interstitial cystitis (irritable bladder) syndrome; pretty severely. Report
My daughter had recurring "UTI's" for a couple of years and self medicated with cranberry juice. The last time she did this in March/April of this year it didn't work but she got worse over a period of a couple of weeks. During that time, she also went through two rounds of antibiotics that didn't work. In the end, she was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis, a condition that mimics UTI's but instead is bleeding of the bladder lining often aggravated by acidic foods and beverages. Her heavy cranberry consumption worsened her condition which led to surgery in May. So just a warning: If you have recurring UTI symptoms with severe abdominal pain several times during a period of time, ask your doctor about Interstitial Cystitis. Report
Back in the old days, when I was using a diaphragm for birth control, it used to irritate the urethra & cause periodic UTIs. A nurse told me about cranberry juice, & thereafter I was able to deal with incipient UTIs every time by drinking cranberry juice cocktail--yes, the sugared kind; in those days I didn't have access to unsweetened cranberry juice. It was nice to be able to avoid antibiotics.

Once I stopped using the diaphragm, the UTIs stopped altogether--yay! Report


About The Author

The American Institute for Cancer Research
The American Institute for Cancer Research
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is a charity that has contributed more than $70 million for research on diet and cancer. AICR educates Americans how to make dietary changes to lower their cancer risk.