More than 25 million Americans experience an involuntary leakage of urine, or urinary incontinence. Many times, it’s an unfortunate side effect of pregnancy and childbirth, prostate problems, bladder infections, or disease. Some people resort to wearing incontinence pads or adult diapers, but what they may not realize is that their diet may actually contribute to a leaky bladder. Below are some of the top bladder irritants you should be aware of:
- Coffee– Caffeine is one of the main culprits of a leaking bladder. Since coffee is a diuretic, it causes you to release more urine than you usually do. Cutting back on those countless morning cups of coffee or switching to decaf may cause less bladder irritation.
- Spicy foods – Sometimes we just want to add a little spice to our meals. However, consuming spicy peppers and sauces can result irritate your bladder lining and result in bladder leakage or inflammation.
- Tea – This is another diuretic that can cause sudden urges or irritate an overactive bladder. Try switching to something less caffeinated, like herbal tea.
- Citrus foods and juices – Along with our veggies, we’ve always been told to eat our fruits when we were young. Unfortunately, citrus fruits and juices, such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, are all acidic and can lead to frequent bathroom breaks. Try something less acidic such as bananas, pears, and apples.
- Alcohol – A glass of wine (or two!) after dinner may send you running to the nearest bathroom. Why? Like coffee, alcohol is diuretic, so it causes the body to produce more urine, which can also lead to dehydration. Alcoholic beverages can also produce miscommunication between your brain and your bladder, causing you to miss your body’s signal telling you it’s time to get to the bathroom.
- Chocolate – Sorry, chocolate lovers, but this sweet treat actually contains caffeine, which can irritate the bladder. If you can’t give up chocolate, switching to something less caffeinated, such as white chocolate, may help.
- Artificial sweeteners – Certain artificial sweeteners can cause bladder spasms and lead to frequent urination, according to the American Urogynecologic Society. So if you’re someone who can’t get enough of that Diet Pepsi, you might have to cut back.
- Tomatoes – Is it a fruit or is it a vegetable? Whatever it is, know that tomatoes are an acidic food that can lead to an unhappy bladder. If you know that your bladder absolutely won’t tolerate tomatoes, you might have to cut down on salsa and pizza sauce.
Of course every individual is different, so you don’t necessarily have to eliminate all of these foods and drinks from your diet. You just have to figure out which one(s) is causing bladder control problems. Keeping a bladder diary can help you determine what your bladder can tolerate. Simply avoid some of these foods for a couple of days and see how it affects your bladder control.
Now you may ask, “So what should I eat and drink instead?” Incorporate more whole grains and fiber into your diet. But, the best thing to you can do for your bladder is to stay hydrated. Monitor your fluids, and don’t drink too much or too little. Instead, drink small amounts throughout the day and drink a large glass of water with every meal. So remember, changing your diet may be the key to a better bladder.
About the author: Nancy Pham is a passionate health blogger who focuses on women’s health, specifically urinary incontinence issues. She is a blogger at National Incontinence, a major supplier of incontinence products.