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Do Bladder Issues Begin at the Dinner Plate?

kale in a bowl for somebody with bladder incontinence

Bladder Incontinence and Diet

By Aimee Donnelly, wellness coordinator at Network Health
Originally published on 10/23/2020 at 3:30 p.m.

Using the bathroom is such an automatic thing for most people. For some, however, it can be a major and significant source of physical and emotional stress. Those who struggle with bladder control and suffer from incontinence (the term given to the lack of voluntary control over urination and sometimes defecation) find trips to the bathroom to be less than routine.

Incontinence is as much a disruption to somebody’s social life as it is to their physical health and mental wellbeing.

What are the symptoms and signs of incontinence?

Bladder incontinence is a symptom and not a disease. It can be a result of everyday habits, underlying medical conditions or physical problems. Most people with incontinence, however, find they have one or more of these more common signs.

  • Leaking urine during everyday activities, such as lifting, bending, coughing or exercising
  • Feeling a sudden strong urge to urinate right away
  • Leaking urine without any warning or urge
  • Being unable to reach a toilet in time
  • Wetting your bed during sleep

Can I control or prevent my incontinence?

Fluid and dietary intake are two everyday habits that we can control and can influence your bladder’s habits.

How much fluid you consume and the way you consume this fluid can be a determining factor in the development or persistence of bladder issues. For instance, while staying properly hydrated is important, you want to avoid drinking too much fluid at one time.

Try to drink smaller amounts of fluid throughout your day in order to reach your recommended fluid intake. Another issue revolving around fluid and your bladder is drinking fluids too fast. Consuming fluids too fast in a short period of time can overwhelm your bladder. When your bladder is overwhelmed it can create a strong sense of urgency to use the restroom.

Not drinking enough fluid can also negatively affect your bladder’s health.

Drinking too little fluids or dehydration can cause a buildup of body waste products in your urine. This buildup can irritate your bladder and increase the urge and frequency of urination.

Which fluids are the best for bladder health?

When it comes to fluids, water is always the best choice. Certain fluids we consume are considered natural diuretics. Diuretics are substances that remove fluid from your body and can lead you to dehydration, despite consuming fluids. Examples of diuretics include alcohol and caffeinated drinks like energy drinks, soda, tea and coffee. For this reason, try and drink these in moderation.

A good rule of thumb when drinking fluids that are also diuretics, is to drink 16 ounces of water for every 8 ounces you consume.

Remember to drink fluids before you get thirsty. If you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Looking for colorful signs of dehydration? Urine luck

You can also use your urine color to determine your hydration level. According to experts, if your urine is pale yellow, you're hydrated. If your urine is a darker yellow, it's time for a glass of water (or two).

What foods are bad for my bladder?

When it comes to bladder incontinence, there is not a specific diet that will cure the issue but avoiding certain foods can help manage the symptoms. Here are some foods and beverages that are known to increase bladder incontinence. Try to limit them as much as possible.

  • Carbonated beverages, such as sparkling water
  • Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and tea
  • Chocolate
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Sports drinks, such as Gatorade
  • Citrus fruit
  • Tomatoes and tomato-based products, including ketchup, tomato sauce, and chili
  • Spicy foods
  • Foods containing artificial flavorings and preservatives
  • Foods containing sugar or sugar substitutes
  • Honey
  • Raw onion

Using the process of elimination to pinpoint the dietary culprit

When making changes to your diet, try to avoid using the all-or-nothing approach. Start by taking a few of the foods listed above out of your diet for a week or so to see if your issues improve. Once you are ready, gradually reintroduce one of the foods back into your diet every one or two days.

Note which foods and/or beverages cause any changes in your urinary frequency, urgency or incontinence. You may find that some of the foods on the list can still be enjoyed in moderation. Consult your personal doctor or a dietitian before making any long-term changes to your diet or if you have any dietary concerns.

What foods should I eat to help with incontinence and bladder problems?

Making changes to your diet doesn’t just mean eliminating foods. You should also look at adding foods into your daily diet that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Non-acidic fruits and vegetables are good for your bladder’s health. Which of these bladder friendly fruits and vegetables is your favorite?

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Coconut
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Peppers

Bladder incontinence doesn’t have to mean a diminished social life

While choosing the right foods and fluids can help improve bladder control, know that there are many other factors that contribute to your overall bladder health.

Addressing the other factors that impact bladder control can improve your overall success. Along with consuming bladder friendly food and removing bladder irritants, consider maintaining a healthy weight, eliminating the use of tobacco, increasing physical activity, managing your medication and minimizing constipation.

Work with your personal doctor to create a specific plan to help improve your bladder incontinence.

Changes in bladder control are not always immediate. Stick with the plan you and your medical provider made for the best chance of seeing significant and life-enhancing improvements.

For more information on how your Network Health plan can help you get the most out of life through quality care and treatment, contact us today.

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