What is a bladder diet?
Patients often ask if we have recommendations for a bladder diet — foods that will help ease certain bladder symptoms. The short answer is, yes, there are foods that can help the bladder. However, there are others that can irritate the bladder. Initially, it’s important to identify which urinary health condition you’re hoping to support through diet modifications.
It’s a common belief that drinking cranberry juice, or taking a cranberry supplement will help support urinary health. More specifically, it’s thought that cranberry will help prevent urinary tract infections. Scientists have discovered a substance in cranberries that will prohibit bacteria from attaching itself to the bladder walls. However, research has not verified that cranberry can prevent urinary tract infections, or significantly help with an active UTI. Furthermore, for individuals with Overactive Bladder (urinary frequency), cranberry can irritate the bladder which will escalate symptoms. In addition, drinking cranberry juice loaded with sugar can negatively affect glucose levels, which may also increase irritating symptoms or urinary frequency. Certainly cranberries have health benefits, but they may not be appropriate for urinary health.
Over 33 million Americans are affected by Overactive Bladder, which presents itself with frequent urination and an urgency to urinate. The following are dietary suggestions that can help, and those that should be avoided because they can irritate the bladder.
- Blueberries, bananas, watermelon, pears, papaya, and apricots are generally “safe” fruits that should not irritate the bladder
- Vitamin A
- Water – drink when thirsty but restrict fluids closer to bedtime
- Pumpkin see extract (i.e., AZO bladder control)
- Uva Ursi
- Desert Harvest Aloe Vera
Avoid the following acidic foods whenever possible:
- Drinks: all alcoholic beverages, coffee, carbonated beverages (even carbonated water), lemon juice, tea, apple juice
- Fruits: cranberries, apples, cantaloupes, citrus fruits, oranges, grapes, guava, lemons, limes, nectarines, peaches, pineapple, plums, strawberries, tomatoes
- Things that trigger food allergies
- Spicy foods, chili
- Ascorbic acid
- Sugar, sugar substitutes
In addition, foods that are naturally high in Arylalkylamines should be avoided when possible:
- Fruits: avocados, bananas, canned figs, prunes, raisins
- Drinks: beer, champagne, wines
- Brewer’s yeast, Marmite (spread made from a yeast extract)
- Cheeses, nuts, onions, rye bread
- Chicken livers, corned beef, pickled herring
- Chocolate, Nutrasweet, saccharin
- Fava beans, lima beans
- Mayonnaise, sour cream, soy sauce
- Vitamins B & C
A ‘bladder diet’ is only one piece of the puzzle. Lifestyle modifications are also an important component in managing some urinary health conditions.
Things that help:
- Drink when thirsty – avoid becoming dehydrated
- Lose weight
- Regular bowel movements
- Urinate every 2 to 4 hours
- Walk 30 minutes per day
- If you are a smoker, smoking cessation helps
Things to avoid:
- Chronic coughing
- Ignoring the natural urge to urinate
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Constipation or diarrhea
The above suggestions for Overactive Bladder may also be beneficial for persons struggling with Interstitial Cystitis (IC), or chronic pelvic pain. For this condition, avoiding foods and beverages that irritate the bladder is a good place to start. However, IC patients should tailor their diet based on foods and beverages that specifically cause their IC to flare up—a more individualized approach. This is often accomplished through an elimination diet to identify triggers. Urology Austin providers will be able to assist IC patients better understand their condition and how it can be treated.
Contact Urology Austin to schedule a consultation with one of our providers.