What’s Food Got to Do With It? The Nutrition Connection
Eating healthier foods—and avoiding some foods altogether—can make for better bladder control. Even the simplest dietary modifications can have a big impact on bladder leakage.
Bladder leakage, diet, and obesity are closely linked. Excessive weight can add unwanted pressure to the abdominal area. But just a five to 10 percent weight loss can help relieve abdominal pressure and aid in controlling bladder leakage.
In addition to weight management, the types of foods you eat may also affect your bladder leakage. Doctors often advise individuals with incontinence to avoid certain foods and beverages. But not all people react the same way to all foods.
Because everyone is different, you’ll want to conduct a trial-and-error analysis on your own to determine which foods you should avoid or moderate. Begin by eliminating those foods you suspect give you the most difficulty. Then gradually reintroduce them one by one, allowing one to two weeks between reintroductions to pinpoint the possible culprits. Before long, you’ll be able to create a bladder-friendly diet tailored just for you!
As you launch your investigation, start by isolating the following list of nutritional items. These foods and beverages can cause bladder leakage the most often.
Caffeine. Caffeine consumption can be a significant bladder irritant. Since it’s a diuretic, it can cause the bladder to contract, contributing to both stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Caffeine occurs naturally in coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa beans. But it’s also found in soft drinks, and foods and candies that contain milk chocolate or cocoa. In addition, some over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers, cough medications, and nutritional supplements can also contain caffeine. That’s why it’s important to check all product labels when reducing or eliminating caffeine from your diet.
Alcohol. Beer, wine, and liquor are also all diuretics. They cause the bladder to fill quickly and trigger an urgency to void. Alcohol also impairs signals between the bladder and the brain, interfering with bladder control and increasing the likelihood of accidents.
Citrus fruits and juices. For another source of bladder irritation, look no further than your breakfast table. Fruits and juices have an acidic pH and can aggravate incontinence. This includes grapefruits, oranges, lemons, and limes.
Spicy foods. From cayenne pepper to curry, hot and spicy foods can urge the urge. Research indicates that avoiding spicy foods can have a beneficial effect on bladder leakage.
Carbonated beverages and artificial sweeteners. Even non-caffeinated carbonated water can irritate the bladder, while artificial sweeteners contribute to urge incontinence.
Avoid, Adjust, Avert
You can make many of these simple dietary changes gradually, allowing you to track your progress. It’s always a good idea to also discuss your diet with your doctor. A healthcare provider can help create a personalized diet plan designed just for you and your needs. With a healthy plan in hand, you’re in control!