Lifestyle choices such as smoking, physical activity, the amount of fluids consumed, and even the foods you eat may have an effect on your, especially if you are currently managing bladder control issues.
Let’s look at some common foods that are known to irritate the bladder. The effect of each of the foods discussed below will vary person to person: some of the foods may not bother you at all, while others may make symptoms much more noticeable.
Pay attention to what you are eating and avoid foods that can trigger bladder control issues for you. Consider keeping a journal and recording when bladder symptoms worsen so you can refer back to what you’ve eaten and look for a connection.
7 Common Foods That May Negatively Impact Bladder Control
1. One known bladder irritant is caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to both increase overall bladder activity and to worsen symptoms; caffeine is a triple threat as it can increase frequency, urgency, and incontinence all at the same time! Any foods high in caffeine should be greatly reduced, or avoided completely if you’re very sensitive, including coffee, tea and chocolate.
Herbal teas are one option to replace regular tea and coffee. Dark chocolate (over 70% cacao) has less caffeine and is more intense than milk or other chocolates, so a smaller bite may satisfy your chocolate cravings. Decaf coffee is preferable over regular coffee, but keep in mind that even decaf coffee has some caffeine in it, so if you find you are very sensitive to it, as some with bladder concerns are, then you may want to avoid it completely.
2. Acidic foods such as citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes) and tomatoes can aggravate your symptoms. To get your healthy fruits try less acidic fruits such as bananas and apples and eat plenty of vegetables. Like caffeine, the degree to which you will react to these foods will vary. For example, some people find tomatoes irritate their bladder but they are okay with tomato products such as sauces, ketchup and salsa. Others who are more sensitive will see the impact of those processed versions as well and should avoid them.
3. Alcohol and carbonated drinks should be minimized. Alcohol may not only irritate the bladder, it can interfere with the signals your body sends to your brain that let you know when your bladder is full. Beer, wine and liquor can all do damage, as can soda, champagne, energy drinks, and seltzer; anything with “fizz” could potentially be an irritant for your bladder.
4. Spicy foods not only make your eyes water, they can make your bladder very unhappy! Everyone’s tolerance to spice is different; we’ve all seen people eat a bunch of spicy peppers while others may turn bright red after just one bite. Pay attention to spices that may irritate you, especially spicy sauces with tomatoes, which up the ante by adding in another potential irritant.
5. Artificial sweeteners have also been shown to worsen bladder control issues. To the extent you can, eat fresh healthy whole foods and avoid artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, NutraSweet, and Sweet ‘n Low. These sweeteners have all been linked to a number of health concerns, including bladder irritation. Stick with sugar, raw honey or stevia.
6. Raw onions have been shown to be a trigger for some but interestingly enough, they do not seem to be an irritant when they are cooked. So if you love onions, just be sure to saute them first!
7. Milk and milk products may be an issue for some, as many people have dairy sensitivities that have never been diagnosed; these sensitivities can irritate the bladder as well. In that case, explore goat milk products, almond milk or raw milk and raw milk cheeses, as these often do not irritate in the way pasteurized milk may.
Again, bladder control reactions will be different for everyone. You may find some or all (or none!) to be triggers to varying degrees, but once you know which ones you are sensitive to, you can adjust and try to avoid them as much as possible.
Be defensive. To your health.