There’s a great deal of confusion surrounding the issue of whether your urine pH should be acidic or alkaline, when you have a UTI.
Most people think that it should be more acidic, largely because they hear that cranberry juice is good for a UTI and that’s very, very acidic.
Also, if they put lemon juice in their water and feel better, they think the lemon juice acidified their urine. More on that, in a bit.
If you’ve used cranberry juice, and it seemed to get better, and then it got worse, this is why…(the link is a very worthwhile read)
..cranberry produces hippuric acid in the urine…Putting hippuric acid into the urine initially kills off the bacteria that have thinner acid-susceptible cell-walls, leaving only thicker-skinned acid-resistant individuals to multiply and pass on their resistant genes.
Therefore, you feel better initially, and then the toughest bacteria take over, and you actually get worse, because the surviving bacteria are now more resistant to anything you take, including antibiotics. Fortunately, this isn’t irreversible, so if you’ve experienced this, don’t freak out.
E. coli, and many other types of UTI-causing bacteria, thrive in an acidic environment, which means they’re feeding like mad and rapidly dividing cells to make more of themselves. And when I say “rapidly” I mean doubling its population every 20-30 minutes. (Meaning it increases exponentially) This is why an infection can flare up so quickly, going from “Gee, I think something hurts” to “OMG, I’m peeing red-hot razor blades” in a matter of a few hours.
As the bacteria feed in an acidic environment, they give off a waste product which alkalizes their surroundings, and feeding and growth slows down. If you’re chugging cranberry juice frantically, you’re lowering your pH and giving them fresh food. (Thankfully, cranberry juice isn’t as acidifying as one might assume, but it’s still not doing you any favors)
When you raise your urine pH, however, you trick them into thinking they’re sitting in a pool of their own filth, and their life cycle slows dramatically, relieving your symptoms.
On the other hand, it seems to be the case that for most gram negative bacteria, living in alkali conditions is like living in their own waste – not ideal conditions. In alkaline urine they slow down their metabolic rate and it can take them twice as long to produce a cell division (to double).
On lemon juice and why it’s beneficial, the key lies in how your body metabolizes it. Just because something is acidic doesn’t mean that its effect in your body is acidic, and the same goes for alkaline substances. There’s a good explanation here…
A food’s acid content doesn’t determine whether it becomes acid or alkaline forming — its pH nature in the body is a product of the metabolic process. Often, a food’s acid content contrasts its effect in the body. For example, whole eggs are alkaline, but they’re moderately acid-forming in the body. Similarly, chocolate cake has an alkaline pH, but is highly acid-forming in the body. Angel food cake and watermelon have a comparable, slightly acidic pH range of about 5.2 to 5.6. In the body, however, watermelon is highly alkaline-forming, while angel food cake is highly acid-forming. Most citrus fruits are acidic, but have an alkaline effect in the body. Cranberry juice itself is very acidic, but it’s only moderately acid-forming in the body.
So, when you put baking soda or lemon/lime juice in your drinking water, you’re alkalizing your urine pH and slowing the replication of the vast majority of UTI-causing pathogens, which is a valuable tool in your natural UTI-killing toolbox.
Here’s an extremely useful list of which food/drinks are alkaline or acid-forming for you to use as a reference.