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6 Tips for Keeping Your Urinary System Healthy

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Updated December 20, 2009

There are are a few simple habits that you can adopt that may reduce risks of problems developing, in your urinary tract, such as urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and chronic UTIs.

1. Drink water when you feel thirsty.

When you urinate, you are eliminating waste products from your system. To keep your urine flowing normally and avoid blockages, be sure to drink when you are thirsty. On average, adults lose 10, 8 oz. cups of water per day, but most of it is replenished with normal drinking and food. There is no consensus on a precise number of glasses of water per day for average healthy adults. The American Dietetic Association recommends 8 x 8oz. glasses per day, but whether this has simply been passed down as an arbitrary number has been questioned.

2. Go easy on the salt, which makes you retain water.

Too much salt in your diet keeps the salt/mineral/water balance in your kidneys off kilter. A high-sodium diet has been associated with elevated blood pressure. Long-term, uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to kidney damage. A high-salt diet may also contribute to the development of kidney stones. In fact, many people think that calcium stones are the result of eating too much calcium. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, the sodium in salt causes more salt to be excreted by the kidneys. Paying attention to sodium labels on processed foods and reducing intake of canned soups and vegetables, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and sausages, may help you lower your risk for developing calcium-based kidney stones.

3. Consider reducing your caffeine intake.

Drinking caffeinated beverages may irritate your bladder and serve as a diuretic (increase your need to urinate). The more caffeine you drink, the more you may have to urinate. There is some evidence that women with interstitial cystitis, also known as IC, should avoid caffeine.

4. Take extra water when you are out in the sun or doing aerobic exercise.

You lose water through perspiration on hot, sunny days and when you are doing aerobic activities. As a result, you need more water than you would ordinarily if you are sedentary.

5. If you are sexually active, urinate and clean yourself before and after sex.

Bacteria can easily travel up into the urinary tract during sex, causing urinary tract infections. Urinating shortly after sex and wiping yourself has been shown to reduce the odds you will develop an infection. Urinary tract infections are more likely to occur after sex in women because women have a much shorter urethra than men. That makes it easy for bacteria to go up into the urinary tract. But men can get urinary tract infections too and they can transmit pathogens to women as well. The groin is a major source of bacteria so men should also adopt good personal hygiene, including cleaning their groin area.

6. If you have children, teach your daughters to wipe from front to back.

The anus and rectum have a lot of bacteria. Wiping from front to back ensures that you don't bring the bacteria in contact with the vagina, resulting in urinary tract infections.
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