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Common Bladder Irritants

Common Bladder Irritants

We all know how much nutrition and food/fluid intake can affect our mood and our organs.  Your urinary and bowel systems are no exception. What we eat or drink can influence us for the better or for the worse. Believe it or not, dietary education is key to pelvic health treatment plans.  We must treat the whole body, not just a piece!

You may be wondering how diet influences your urinary and bowel function. The bladder is where excess fluid and toxins end up and are eventually evacuated.  It is vital that we recognize this link and consider the impact of our dietary intake.  Poor nutrition and care for our bladder and bowel systems can result in constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, anal incontinence, and bladder incontinence.

Foods and beverages that can irritate your bladder are hard to avoid since they can be found everywhere. However, knowing which foods and drinks cause irritation will help you to avoid, limit, or entirely remove them from your diet.  Moderation is key, as they say!

According to the John Hopkins Women’s Center for Pelvic Health (WCPH), these foods and beverages can be linked to worsening urinary urgency, bladder pain, and incontinence.

If you have any of these conditions and wonder where to start, try to determine which food or drink may be a driving factor. The easiest starting point is to remove it from your diet and monitor how your body responds. John Hopkins WCPH claims that you can see relief in approximately 10 days if you remain strict to your diet.

Common Bladder Irritants include:

  • Coffee (even decaffeinated)
  • Tea
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Acidic fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, fruit juices)
  • Tomatoes
  • Spicy foods
  • Chocolate
  • Cranberries
  • Milk products
  • Sugar (& artificial sweeteners)
  • Corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Vinegar
  • Smoking
  • Certain blood pressure medication, antidepressants, and NSAIDS

Once you notice reduced symptoms and pain, it is okay to consume the foods and beverages that were cut out. However, it must be done one at a time and slowly. Be patient with yourself.  If symptoms re-appear, now you can determine which food or drink is causing the problem, and begin to restrict it from your diet.

Possible dietary substitutes exist for some bladder irritants:

  • Coffee: consider Kava or low-acid instant drinks.
  • Tea drinkers: less to non-citrus herbals.
  • Prelief: an acid-blocker supplement for the bladder.

Other tips:

  • Consume water throughout the day 
  • Drink 1-2 glasses of water for every bladder/bowel irritating drink you consume (coffee, tea, alcohol) to dilute the beverage
  • Eat a high fibre diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Quit smoking

References:
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/johns_hopkins_bayview/_docs/medical_services/gynecology_obstetrics/bladder_irritants.pdf
http://www.health.alberta.ca/documents/AADL-Bladder-Irritants.pdf
http://ltctoolkit.rnao.ca/sites/default/files/resources/continence/Continence_EducationResources/FactSheetsPamphletsPocketCardsLogos/DrugsAffectBowelBladderControl_PolicyProcedure_BladderBowelMgmt_Torontopg18.pdf

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