It’s no secret that what we eat affects our health. Bog down your body with nothing but processed foods and refined carbohydrates and you’ll have dull skin and no energy whatsoever. According to a recent study, however, the food we put into our bodies these days is having a much greater effect — in the form of poultry being responsible for persistent UTIs in women.
Vogue’s latest issue features an article about the dangers recently discovered in chicken, thanks to a woman who was suffering from constant UTI infections that antibiotics would not clear up. After making back-to-back visits to the doctor for persistent urinary tract infections, Jacqueline Aguirre, a writer from Long Beach, California, noted that antibiotics weren’t successful in treating her infections. Only after she made the decision to cut out chicken from her diet did the UTIs stop. She’s now been a vegetarian for over four years, during which time she’s not had another infection.
Recent studies have found that UTIs are becoming resistant to antibiotics, and the problem is being traced back to poultry. UTIs are caused by bacteria and, very commonly, that bacteria is E. coli, which is genetically very similar to the E. coli found in some chicken (and even in chicken eggs). The bacteria can be directly passed to the people consuming the meat if the chicken is contaminated (by either undercooking or unsafe handling). Farmers commonly inject chickens with antibiotics for growth (bigger chickens are more profitable), which in turn is making the E. coli bacteria resistant to antibiotics. When this antibiotic-resistant bacteria gets passed to the consumer, the bacteria can then cause an infection (like a UTI) that is then also resistant to antibiotics, making the infection persistent. It’s a vicious cycle.
The FDA is acknowledging that antibiotics in meat are threatening public health, and they’re asking that pharmaceutical companies voluntarily stop labeling their products for animal growth. This will eventually make it illegal for farmers to use antibiotics for that purpose. As for what you can do to avoid the negative health ramifications now, looking for free-range and organic poultry in the supermarket is a good way to go. While cutting chicken out of your diet entirely may not be realistic, purposing to eat the poultry that’s not laced with antibiotics may be the best way to keep your body healthy — UTI or otherwise.