Not-So Friendly Foods
For some people, different foods and drinks can wreak havoc on their internal systems, especially the bladder. If you suffer from light bladder leakage (LBL), you know better than anyone how much of a pain that can be.
Womensforum has put together a list of foods that can irritate your bladder, so you know what to avoid and what, if you must consume, to keep in moderation.
Sorry, Coffee & Tea Fans!
You know how a bit too much caffeine can leave you shaky? Well, the same is true for your bladder. Both coffee and tea act as a diuretic, which causes your kidneys to make more urine and can make your bladder more sensitive. Cutting out, or at least cutting down on, caffeine intake can help avoid filling your tank and irritating your bladder. Before you jump on the decaf bandwagon, just know there is still some caffeine in those blends as well.
Spice Is Not So Nice
This one might be a toughie for you spicy-food lovers out there! While you might enjoy kicking your food up a notch with hot sauce, wasabi or peppers, your bladder, especially one suffering from light bladder leakage, may not agree with you. It's pretty much the same reason spicy foods leave your mouth on fire and you sweating out your eyeballs: Those spices can irritate the bladder lining and worsen symptoms. So reach for flavorful herbs and leave the spicy stuff for special occasions.
Too Much Of A Good Thing
Cranberry juice is great for fighting off bladder infections because an active ingredient in the berry prevents bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. Here's the rub: Cranberries can also make an overactive bladder worse. The diuretic properties can help flush out the bladder which means needing to go to the bathroom more. Acidity in the berries can also irritate, possibly causing urge incontinence.
No Toasting For You
Remember what we said about coffee and tea? Alcohol is just like that, both a diuretic and a bladder irritant. Plus, drinking alcohol can affect the brain's signals that make you aware of bladder overflow. This applies for most alcohols, but with beer you get a triple whammy because you're consuming liquid, accelerating the rate at which your kidneys are gathering water, and forcing the bladder to empty more often. People with overactive bladders should really limit the amount of alcohol they drink.
Unfortunately, we have some rather bitter news when it comes to sweet things. There is some evidence that both artificial and natural sweeteners can increase negative bladder symptoms. This applies to those little sugary packets as well as farmers market favorites like honey and agave. Just like other foods, you might not have to cut out sugar altogether, but it is wise to experiment to see if your symptoms lessen when you limit the amount of sweeteners you use.
Bubbles Are Bad
Bubbly drinks don't just tickle your nose! Those air bubbles can also tickle your bladder, and that is not such a good thing for people with leakage issues. We've already covered the problems with caffeine and sugar, so as you can imagine, sodas hit the trifecta of bladder no-nos. It is best to avoid the “fizz” in carbonated beverages like soft drinks, soda water and energy drinks, even the sugar-free and caffeine-free versions since the carbonation can trigger an overactive bladder. The same goes for champagne, which doesn't have caffeine but does have bladder-stimulating alcohol.
Are you starting to feel like there's nothing that's not on the list for bladder enemies in the food world? When it comes to fruit, take heart; there is a good list and a bad list. Acidic foods and drinks, such as grapefruits and orange juice, can also irritate your bladder, but here is the good news: Fruits like apples, blueberries and pears are actually great for bladder issues. These sweet treats provide key nutrients as well as a healthy dose of fiber. Eating fruit also help avoid constipation, which can sometimes plague people with overactive bladders.
Tomatoes, like citrus fruit, are quite acidic, which can potentially irritate the bladder and make LBL symptoms worse. People who are really sensitive should also cut out tomato products, such as pasta or pizza sauce, ketchup and salsa. Can't live without your tomato sauce? Some chefs swear adding a little sugar to a ragu or Bolognese makes it less acidic. Other ideas are adding a carrot or potato to the pot, which can "soak up" the acid, or stirring in some heavy cream or even sprinkling in a bit of baking soda to neutralize the acidity.
This One Might Make You Cry
Most of the items on the list are groups of foods or drinks, but this one is very specific: Onions! They don't just make your eyes watery and your nose run. Onions can cause bladder irritation and increase the urge to urinate. The main culprit is the raw onion, so if you are a fan, try cooking them before you eat to reduce the adverse effects.
Hold The MSG
Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which you probably associate with Chinese food as a flavor enhancer, can also be bad for bladder issues. For some people, MSG triggers symptoms. If you are MSG-sensitive, be aware that it's not just found in take-out food. Read the labels of soups, stocks, salad dressings, canned vegetables, frozen entrées and foods containing whey or soy protein to make sure they are free of the additive.
A Little Goes A Long Way
We are just full of bad news in this list, we're afraid. Here is another favorite that needs to be added to the list—you guessed it, chocolate. A serving of chocolate contains caffeine, roughly one-quarter the amount found in a cup of coffee. It's not all bad—white chocolate usually has no caffeine. You can even try to please your sweet tooth with dark chocolate, which contains more cocoa but tends to satisfy in a smaller serving.
Drink Up, Sort Of
The old adage that drinking eight to 10 glasses of water per day is not always the best idea. For people with leaky bladders, it's not a good idea to overload on liquids for obvious reasons. Here's the catch: drinking too little liquid can be a problem too, because it can lead to overly concentrated urine, which is also a bladder irritant. But don't get hung up on the number of glasses. How much you drink depends on what you are doing during the day. Basically, drink if you're thirsty.
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