Best Foods For Bladder Health

Best Foods For Bladder Health

Do you run to the bathroom after every meal?  Do you ever notice that you always seem to have an accident after eating a specific type of food? It’s no coincidence.  What you eat and drink has a huge effect on your bathroom habits, and if you’re suffering from bladder leakage (or bowel leakage, for that matter), it’s worth your time to start paying more attention to your diet. 

There are many known bladder irritants that may be causing you trouble. 

Below is a list of some of the most common foods that have been known to irritate the bladder:

  • Alcohol

  • Apples

  • Carbonated beverages

  • Chocolate

  • Citrus Juice & Fruits

  • Coffee

  • Corn Syrup

  • Cranberries

  • Spicy Foods

  • Honey

  • Milk

  • Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners

  • Tea

  • Tomatoes

  • Vinegar 

The sugar, caffeine, or acidity in these foods and drinks can irritate the bladder, causing an accidental leakage to occur. If you think one of these foods may be contributing to your bladder leaks, try eliminating it from your diet for a couple of weeks and see what happens. After a while, slowly add it back in and see if the problem reemerges. If so, you know it’s a food or drink you should avoid. 

Everyone is different of course, and not all of the foods listed above will be triggers for everyone. That cup of coffee that causes you to sprint to the ladies room each morning may not have any effect on someone else struggling with bladder leakage. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of what you eat and drink. A bladder diary can be ideal for this task by letting you track what you consume, and also when you have accidents.  Over time, you may start to see a correlation between that tomato sauce you love and your trips to the bathroom.  A bladder diary also comes in handy when talking with your doctor about your condition. It gives them a roadmap of what you’re experiencing and helps them in diagnosing your problem and finding a solution.

Ready to start tracking? Download your free bladder or bowel diary here.

 

Should I Use A Probiotic?

Should You Use A Probiotic?

If you’ve been paying attention to the news at all in the past year or two, you’ve likely noticed an increase in stories about the importance of gut health. The gut, it turns out, is responsible for how your body works –your immunity, your energy levels, your hormone balance, waste elimination, and even how you think can all be affected by an unhealthy gut.  And while there are many factors that affect gut health (stress levels, the amount of shut-eye you get), what you eat plays an important role in ensuring your gut is helping you operate optimally. 

As of late, many health gurus have been touting probiotics as a great way to improve your gut health. And it’s true that the gut needs good probiotics, the “good” bacteria found in some foods and supplements to help it do its job. But how do you get these good bacteria, and are they right for you? 

Most experts agree that a healthy dose of probiotics is a good thing for most people. You can get many probiotics through foods you might be eating already. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, tempeh and kimchi, yogurt, and beverages like kefir and kombucha, are all great options if you want to eat more probiotic foods. You may also want to consider a probiotic supplement if your diet lacks these food types. 

Experts warn to use a bit of caution when initially consuming foods high in probiotics, as they may cause a bit of irritation in your digestive system as your body gets used to them.  Additionally, many probiotic supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so it’s important to do your research on brands and choose a high-quality product.  As always, talk with your doctor before you start taking a probiotic, as they may not be for everyone. Those with an illness that affects the immune system may not be a good fit, as the probiotics may cause the person to get sick.

Want some more info on this subject? Here’s a great guide on taking probiotics from Harvard Health.

Eating Your Way Through Constipation

Diet habits to avoid constipation

Being constipated is a very uncomfortable situation, leaving many people stressed and impatient. For some, constipation further aggravates bladder control issues and for others, the problem is merely uncomfortable. Regardless of how your bladder is affected, the impatience and stress caused by constipation only makes the whole situation worse.

Thankfully, constipation is usually a situation fixed by better eating habits and/or a change in medication. Talk to your doctor about your constipation and consider bringing in a bowel diary of how often you pass a bowel movement.

If medication is the sole catalyst, your doctor should be able to advise a healthy alternative. And if eating a more fibrous diet is in the cards for you, consider trying these ten constipation-fighting foods.

Foods To Prevent Constipation

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Beans and Legumes
  • Grapes
  • Broccoli
  • Flax Seeds
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Bran
  • Figs
  • Prunes

What foods or drinks do you use to combat constipation?

Could Alcohol Consumption Be Contributing To Your Incontinence Or Bedwetting Problem?

Alcohol and incontinence

Eric was 43 when he first woke up wet. He had no idea what had happened to him, but after a couple of minutes he realized:  he had wet the bed. He was shocked – this had never happened to him before and he had no idea why it was happening now.

The bedwetting continued a couple of times a month for a few months until he finally knew something had to be done.  He noticed that he seemed to only wet the bed after he had had a few drinks with his buddies during their regular poker night. “I don’t usually drink much, but I like to have a few beers with the guys during our regular hang out.  I decided to try switching to water for the next couple of poker nights just to see what would happen.” Sure enough, once he omitted the alcohol, things improved dramatically.

Eric’s situation is not uncommon. Over 35 million American adults suffer from incontinence, and nearly 5 million have a bedwetting problem. And, while alcohol cannot be attributed to all of these cases, it is definitely something to try omitting for a while if you do suffer from incontinence. Sometimes, simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.

Alcohol on it’s own doesn’t cause incontinence, but for those who are prone to bladder leaks, it can be a trigger.  Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that in increases the production of urine and can also cause a person to need to use the restroom more often. Not only that, alcohol irritates the bladder, which can make overactive bladder symptoms worse. It’s worth it to try eliminating alcohol if you have incontinence. (Especially if you tend to drink to excess.)

Alcohol isn’t the only thing you should watch out for if you struggle with bladder leakage. 

The following foods and drinks can also irritate the bladder

  • Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea

  • Chocolate (it contains caffeine too!)

  • Carbonated drinks

  • Spicy foods

  • Citrus foods

  • Acidic foods, such as tomatoes

  • Cranberry juice

  • Sugar – including artificial sweeteners

  • Certain medications

If you are experiencing incontinence, try eliminating some of these foods from your diet to see if it makes a difference. It may help you to keep a bladder diary during this experiment to record how what you eat affects your bladder leaks. And if you experience bedwetting, definitely try skipping that nightly glass of wine. As Eric discovered, sometimes making simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.  “I’m dry again! I miss having a drink with the guys, but it’s something I can live without if it means I don’t wet the bed.”

Want a handy cheat sheet of foods to avoid if you have incontinence? Print out our free download of foods that may trigger incontinence and hang it on your fridge for easy reference!

Click Here To Print Your Guide

What I've Learned About IBS And How To Treat It.

IBS, Bowel Health, And How To Treat It

IBS, Bowel Health, And How To Treat It

I was fairly young when I first started having bowel trouble. A consistently nervous young woman, I was constantly in a state of worry – about school, boys, and friendships – pretty much the normal run of the mill high school concerns. My mother always said I had “nervous bowels”, and my family became accustomed to stopping frequently to use the restroom on trips, and always asking me if I had to go before leaving the house.  The pain I felt sometimes with bloating or cramping was attributed to my nerves.  And while my family was fairly sympathetic to my condition, I experienced a lot of eye-rolling growing up when my symptoms would strike (“We have to stop for Annette again?” my brother would say. “She just went!”) It was a normal occurrence that lasted into my college years, and then later as I started a family.  And while it was inconvenient and could definitely be painful at times – it wasn’t until after the birth of my first child that I thought about it as a “condition” that could actually be treated. 

IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is when you have an overly sensitive colon or large intestine.  This may result in the contents of your bowel moving too quickly, resulting in diarrhea, or too slowly, resulting in constipation. (Both of which I have experienced, although my symptoms tend to lie more in the former camp, causing me to constantly race to the bathroom for fear of an accident).  Symptoms also can include cramping or abdominal pain, bloating, gas, or mucus in the stool. The condition is more common than you may think. As many as 1 in 5 American adults have IBS, the majority of them being women. And, this is not an old persons disease either – IBS strikes young, commonly in ages younger than 45.

I was finally diagnosed at age 28 – a whopping 13 years after I started experiencing symptoms, and I wish I had thought to seek help earlier.  My doctor told me that there are many things that can contribute to IBS. Things like hormones, certain types of food, and stress (I guess my mother was right) may all impact IBS symptoms.  Since the cause is of IBS is not known, treatments usually focus on relieving symptoms so that you can live as normally as possible. 

Below is a list of treatments my doctor discussed with me.

Behavioral Changes: 

Diet.  Many foods can trigger IBS. And, while they might not be the same for everyone, there are some common triggers that have been identified:

  • Alcohol

  • Caffeine (including coffee, chocolate)

  • Dairy products

  • Sugar-free sweeteners

  • High-gas foods, such as beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, raw fruits or carbonated beverages)

  • Fatty foods

  • FODMAPs (types of carbohydrates that are found in certain grans, vegetables fruits and dairy products)

  • Gluten

One of the first things I did when starting treatment was to keep a bowel diary, which tracked the foods I ate and how they effected me. This was a huge help in learning my food triggers.  I also learned to eat more frequent, smaller meals, which helped ease my symptoms. (Although those who experience more constipation may see improvement by eating larger amounts of high-fiber foods.)

Stress Management. This was a huge one for me.  It turns out, your brain controls your bowels, so if you’re a hand wringer like me, it may end up making you run to the bathroom more often than you’d like.  Learning ways to control stress was a game changer and I saw a huge improvement with these steps:

  • Meditation – Just taking the time to quite your mind can do wonders in helping you manage stress on a regular basis.

  • Physical Exercise – Regular exercise is a great de-stressor and, if you have constipation, can help keep things moving in that department too. I walk regularly and practice yoga 3 times per week to keep my stress at bay.

  • Deep Breathing Exercises – This is a great trick to practice if you feel yourself starting to get worked up. Practice counting to 10, while breathing in and out slowly until you start feeling relaxed.

  • Counseling – Sometimes you need someone to talk to help you work through your emotions. You may find comfort in talking with a friend or family member, or even a professional counselor, who can help you learn how to deal better with stress.

  • Massage – This one likely doesn’t need much explanation - who doesn’t love a good massage?

Drink Plenty Of Water. Drinking enough water just helps your body function better. And for people with IBS, it will ensure that everything moves more smoothly and minimize pain. This is especially true with those who suffer from constipation. 

Medications 

There are several different medications used to treat symptoms of IBS. Whether you suffer from constipation, or diarrhea, OTCs and prescriptions are available. Antibiotics are also sometimes prescribed for those patients whose symptoms are caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines. And if you suffer from anxiety or depression, like me, some antidepressants and anti-anxiety agents can actually improve your IBS symptoms too. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms and work with him or her to find a solution that’s best for you.

Other treatment options 

Acupuncture. Despite a lack of data on acupuncture and IBS, many patients turn to this method of treatment for pain and bloating. Acupuncture, which is usually performed by a licensed acupuncturist, targets specific points in the body to help channel energy flow properly.

Probiotics.  As research continues to emerge around the importance of gut bacteria and your overall health, probiotics may become a more common treatment option.  Consuming them can increase the “good” bacteria that live in your intestines and may help ease your symptoms. 

Hypnosis.  Hypnotherapy has been shown to improve symptoms by helping the patient to relax. Patients practicing hypnotherapy have reported improved quality of life, reduced abdominal pain and constipation, and reduced bloating. However, most of the time hypnotherapy is dependent upon a therapist, and is usually not covered by insurance plans, making it a costly form of therapy.

I’m 37 now and have had my IBS pretty much under control for the last several years. Looking back, I can’t believe I lived with it as “normal” for so long. If you suffer from this condition, there is simply no reason to not get it treated. 

Need help finding a doctor?  Use the NAFC Specialist Locator.

About the Author:  Annette Jennings lives in Oklahoma with her husband, 2 children, 2 dogs, and 1 cat. She's happy to be speaking up about her condition and hopes it will inspire more people to do so. 

The Link Between Diabetes And Neurogenic Bladder

diabetes and neurogenic bladder

Diabetes is a growing epidemic in our nation. More than 29 million Americans currently suffer from diabetes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that by 2050, as many as 1 out of every 3 adults in the US could have the condition.

Many of us have heard the common complications associated with diabetes: heart disease and stroke, eye problems, including blindness, kidney disease and amputations due to damaged blood vessels and nerves.  But did you know that diabetes can also lead to neurogenic bladder?

Neurogenic bladder is a condition that occurs when nerve damage has occurred, preventing the bladder from emptying properly. Symptoms can include a frequent and strong urge to urinate (but in small amounts), difficulty emptying the bladder, incontinence, and urinary retention. Many people associate neurogenic bladder with conditions such as spinal cord injuries, MS, Alzheimer’s Disease, or Parkinson’s Disease. But neurogenic bladder can happen in people with diabetes too, as a result of diabetic neuropathy, which causes the bladder to lose the ability to sense when it is full.

The good news is that there are treatment options available for neurogenic bladder. Lifestyle changes, such as scheduled voiding, dietary changes, and keeping a bladder diary are a helpful start and can make a big difference.  Several drugs and procedures can help with symptoms of overactive bladder, and for those who have difficulty urinating, catheters can be a big help as well. Finally, surgery options are available. 

Of course, if you are pre-diabetic, the best course of treatment is prevention. Keeping your A1C levels in check with proper diet and exercise is essential in ensuring that you maintain a healthy weight.  Eating healthy foods at moderate portions, and getting in 30 minutes of physical activity can delay and in some cases prevent the disease.

If you are concerned about diabetes, talk with your doctor. He or she will help you assess your risk factors, and start you on a plan to combat this very prevalent disease.

The Importance Of Maintaining A Healthy Weight when it comes to incontinence

The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Weight When It Comes To Incontinence

Many people put losing weight on their list of new years resolutions. But in addition to the many obvious benefits of staying trim, here’s another:  Maintaining a healthy weight may help lessen your symptoms of incontinence. People who are overweight typically have much greater amount of stress and pressure to the pelvic area, resulting in a weakened pelvic floor. Additionally, more weight and pressure on the bladder can cause an increase in leakage.

Losing weight can be difficult for many people. But, keeping a healthy diet and a strong exercise routine can help you shed those pounds and stay healthy. 

Here are some eating tips that may help you jump start your weight loss plan:

  1. Eat a high-protien breakfast. A high-protein breakfast can help keep you full throughout the day, reduces food craving and calories intake.
  2. Replace soda and sugary drinks with water to reduce calories.
  3. Drinking water before meals may help keep you from overeating.
  4. Eat food that is rich in fiber.
  5. Eat food slowly. Eating slowly gives your body enough time to recognize when it is full, preventing you from overeating.
  6. Eat lots of vegetables and fruit. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and will keep you full without all the added calories of junk food.
  7. Keep the amount of salt in your diet to 6 g or less than that per day.

Keep in mind that if you have incontinence, there are some foods you may want to avoid, as they may make your symptoms worse. Pay close attention to what you eat and stay away from the foods that trigger your incontinence.

ASK THE EXPERT: Is A Bladder Diary Really Necessary?

Is A Bladder Diary Really Necessary?

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: What’s a bladder diary, and is it really necessary that I keep one?

Answer: A bladder diary is a great tool for those looking to treat their incontinence, and should be used as a first step in understanding your specific condition. A bladder diary will track the number of times you have gone to the bathroom in a day, if you’ve had any leakage (and the amount), and also tracks your food and drink consumption. By recording all of this over a series of days (at least 2-3 but up to a week or two can be really helpful), you may be able to see trends over time. For instance, perhaps you always experience leakage at a certain time of day, or after you’ve had a certain food or drink. These realizations can help you adjust your routine (or your diet) to avoid leaks. And, the tool can be extremely helpful to your physician, as it gives him/her a better picture of your situation and may help advise better treatment options that will work for you.

In short – yes! Everyone who experiences incontinence should try keeping a bladder or bowel diary for at least a couple of days. What you see may surprise you, or, at the very least, provide a roadmap of your condition that you can share with your doctor.

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Contact us!

ASK THE EXPERT: Do I Really Need To Avoid Sugar And Alcohol If I Have Incontinence?

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: It’s the holidays, and it’s hard to avoid all the goodies and treats around me.  Do things like sugar and alcohol really make a difference in my incontinence symptoms?

Answer: While it may not be what you want to hear, the answer is yes.  Let’s start with sugar.  Sugar (even the artificial kind) is a known bladder irritant – especially for those with overactive bladder – and too much of it can keep you running to the bathroom more times than you’d want during the holidays. Not only that, consuming too much sugar causes the kidneys to work harder to flush the sugar out of the blood, which can result in an increase in the amount of urine you’re holding onto – not a good thing if you already have a leakage problem. High blood sugar levels have also been shown to increase the risk of urinary tract infections.

And now alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic. It increases urine production which can lead to increased frequency and urgency of needing to use the restroom. In addition, alcoholic beverages can stimulate the bladder, which can also lead to incontinence.

In short – both sugar and alcohol should be avoided as much as possible for those with incontinence or overactive bladder. If you do plan to indulge this holiday season, remember that moderation is key. 

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Contact us!

Will Herbal Remedies Help My OAB Symptoms?

Herbal Remedies For Overactive Bladder

Herbal Remedies For Overactive Bladder

Thinking about trying to treat your overactive bladder with an herbal concoction?  Many think that an herbal treatment may be more natural than medication, but be careful – herbal remedies do not go through the same rigorous testing and approval process with the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) as approved medications do.  This means that while some herbs may be effective, they can also be dangerous, and many have side effects that could counteract your efforts. 

Read this roundup of 5 popular herbs used to treat overactive bladder, and talk with your doctor before starting any treatment.  

Delicious Zucchini Fries

delicious zucchini fries

Looking for a healthy snack?  Try these delicious zucchini fries from health.com for your next get together.

Ingredients:

2 zucchini, cut into 3-inch sticks

1 egg white

¼ cup milk

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs

Vegetable cooking spray

Directions:

1.Preheat your oven to 425. 

2.Whisk egg white and milk in a small bowl.

3.In a separate bowl, combine Parmesan and seasoned breadcrumbs.

4.Dip zucchini sticks into the egg mixture, then roll them in the breadcrumb mixture.

5.Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, then place zucchini on sheet.

6.Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

The "Big Four" Bladder Irritants

The Big Four Bladder Irritants

We’ve written about this before, but diet cannot be stressed enough when it comes to your bladder and bowel health. It’s true that what you eat can affect more than just your weight, energy, and mood. Food can change how your body works on the inside!

We advise you consume the follow four irritants in moderation based on acidity.

CAFFEINE

Caffeine irritates the bladder and create stronger urges. Like alcohol, our favorite caffeinated breakfast drinks like coffee and tea also act as diuretics, causing more frequent trips to the restroom.

JUICE

Although juice is inherently good because it comes from fruit, a lot of juices are mostly comprised of sugar because they’re the fruit’s sweetness without the fiber of the skin or body of the whole fruit.

If you must indulge in juices, try to do so sparingly and try to avoid versions made from concentrate and added sugars.

TOMATOES

Although tomatoes have incredible nutrients and minerals that benefit your diet, they are fairly acidic and can be irritating for individuals prone to reflux and bladders in general.

Eat sparingly.

CARBONATED DRINKS

These drinks usually have caffeine, as well as carbonation, which should both be avoided.  In addition, many of them contain artificial sweeteners, which are believed to be a bladder irritant.

Carbonated water can be a great substitute but might also want to be consumed sparingly given the gas element of additional bubbles in your system.

Know Your Dos and Don'ts when it comes to incontinence. Some food just isn't worth it.

Incontinence Do's And Dont's 

There is a saying that 80% of the results in the gym take place in the kitchen. The same thought could be applied to your continence. What you eat and drink, how much, and even when you consume can dramatically impact incontinence. 

Know what foods and drinks can aggravate your system and make a note to avoid them when possible.

Diuretics

Diuretics are agents that promote the excretion of urine. They decrease blood volume by enhancing salt and water excretion by the kidney and lowering the resistance of blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. 

Caffeine is considered a diuretic, so monitor your body’s response to caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and soda.

Alcohol

Alcohol has also been shown clinically to act as a bladder stimulant, triggering symptoms of urgency. In addition, it acts as a diuretic and may induce greater frequency of urination.  This is all triggered because alcohol inhibits arginine vasopressin, also known as anti-diuretic hormone or ADH. The purpose of ADH is to conserve water in the body by reducing its loss in urine.

Acidic Foods

Some individuals have noted bladder control issues after consuming high acid and hot and spicy foods such as tomato-based dishes and citrus fruit drinks. The medical world isn’t entirely sure why this correlation is so prevalent, but citrus and high-acid foods have long been known as bladder irritants.

What diet tips do you use for bladder and bowel health maintenance? 

How Sun Exposure Can Help You And Your Patients

We’ve all heard the warnings about too much sun exposure.  But did you know that some sun is actually beneficial to your health? 

Benefits Of Sun Exposure

Spending just 15 minutes in the sun each day can be healing and preventative for your health. 

Here are some big reasons to get out and enjoy the sun when you can:

Sunlight gives you a natural boost. 

Exposure to sunlight increases serotonin, which regulates appetite, sleep, memory, and mood.  Low serotonin levels are often seen during the winter months, when we spend much of the time indoors, and can contribute to seasonal affective disorder. 

It may lower your blood pressure. 

A study done in 2014 showed that exposure to UVA rays lowered subjects diastolic blood pressure by almost 5 points. 

Sunlight can improve your sleep. 

Exposure to natural sunlight increases the natural production of melatonin (a hormone that helps you sleep) at night.

Increased Vitamin D. 

We’ve heard many times that the vitamin D produced from being in the sun can help your mood, but it also contributes to a host of other benefits.  Increased vitamin D may help prevent cancer, may lower risk for multiple sclerosis, and can contribute to bone health in older adults.

While these benefits are impressive, you still do need to use caution.  Skin cancer is still a risk, so limit your exposure to natural, direct sunlight to about 15 minutes per day, and then use sunscreen to safely enjoy the outdoors for the rest of the day.  

What's your favorite way to spend time in the sun?

What To Do If You Are Stuck In A Rut

Are You Stuck In A Rut?

We all go through it. Life gets busy, days turn into weeks, and before you know it, another year has gone by without  the positive changes we need to move forward and evolve. When you’re stuck in a rut, it’s hard to find the motivation you need to get yourself out of it.

Here are some big questions you can ask yourself to discover what parts of your life plan may need a lift.

Are you taking care of Your Body?

Your body is one of your most important assets and keeping it healthy should be at the top of your list.  What are you doing to ensure that you are keeping things in good working order? 

  • Are you eating the right foods? Eating a balanced breakfast, including lots of nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables and lean protein in your meals is just the start of what the USDA recommends when considering your diet. Check out their weight management plan here.

  • Are you drinking enough water? Water makes up roughly 60 percent of your body weight! It’s no wonder we need to stay hydrated to ensure our organs and systems are performing optimally. The amount of water needed varies by person, but the Mayo Clinic recommends 9 cups for women and about 13 cups for men, daily.

  • Do you exercise regularly? Finding a good workout routine can be hard, but don’t overthink it. Consider regular exercise as a way to keep your engines running. And if you’re just starting out, keep it simple – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise moderate activity (i.e., brisk walking) for 30 minutes, 5 times a week, plus muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week. Staying active not only helps keep you physically fit, but also keeps you sharp too. Which leads us to….

Are you feeding Your Mind?

Studies show that how you spend your time has a big impact on your mental health.  Those who are more active, social, and challenge themselves in different ways tend to stay sharper longer. 

  • Are you challenging yourself enough? Performing a variety of activities, such as reading, solving puzzles, working with your hands, and strengthening your memory with games, helps keep your mind active. Make sure to mix it up every once in a while so you challenge your mind in different ways.

  • Are you setting attainable goals? Challenging yourself is great, but make sure your goals - both daily and long term - are attainable and realistic. Otherwise, you’ll get burnt out trying to reach them.

  • Are you opening yourself up to new experiences? Staying social, taking a class on a new subject, or trying new things help us not only enhance our mind, but also make us more passionate about life and more interesting to others.

Are you nourishing Your Soul?

Your emotional well-being is a huge part of remaining happy and healthy, yet many people tend to overlook that part of their life.  Are you performing the necessary activities to enrich your soul?

  • Do you practice mindfulness? Staying mindful can help to boost your memory, reduce stress, stay calm, focus better, and makes us more satisfied in our relationships, according to the American Psychological Association.

  • Do you practice gratitude? Being grateful helps us to focus on the good in life. Try starting a gratitude journal to become more optimistic and happier.

  • Have you ever meditated? Regular meditation not only helps improve your health, but it can reduce stress, improve concentration, and increase self-awareness. Click here to learn some tips on how to start.

Are you spending enough time with Your Family or social network?

Often, our family is the strongest social network that we have.  Do you make an effort to keep those ties strong?

  • Do you set aside time to spend with them? Going on bike rides, cooking together, or even a weekly phone call helps to keep family relationships going strong.

  • Do you have family traditions? Traditions can help turn ordinary events into more meaningful celebrations and bring one another together.

  • Do you look for common interests? Finding ways to connect with family members can help strengthen ties.

Are you happy with Your Career?

You spend a lot of time in your chosen profession. Yet for many people, the demands of everyday life keep them from moving ahead or finding their true passion. Are you happy with what you are doing every day?

  • Are you excited to go to work every day? If the answer is no, ask yourself why. Do you enjoy your career but not your current company? Do you like the company but not your direct manager? Do you feel uninspired by your profession? Figure out what is important to you and make the changes to improve your happiness in your work life.

  • Are you ready for a promotion? Do you feel you are ready to take on a new role or responsibility? Don’t wait for a promotion to come to you – go get it! Here are some ways to ask for a promotion.

Taking the time to examine your life and where you want to be will help get you back to the path you want to be on!

Tell us:  How do you handle getting out of a rut?

Bladder Irritants and Your Diet

bladder irritants and your diet

The holidays tend to be a time of indulgence for most of us. Unfortunately most holiday treats such as sweets, cookies, alcoholic beverages, and sugar-sweetened drinks - are full of empty calories. For those with diabetes who have bladder control issues, it is important to remember that the high sugar content in these treats can lead to frequency and urgency.

When there is excess sugar in the blood the kidneys work harder to remove the glucose. The brain gets the signal that water is needed to dilute the blood. If the kidneys cannot filter all the glucose, then excess glucose gets dumped into the urine. Fluid is taken from bodily tissues to help move the sugar to the urine. This leads to dehydration and thirst. As water is consumed to quench the thirst, urination happens more frequently. Drinking more water is good and helps the kidneys remove the sugar. Control of blood sugar levels can help prevent any of this from happening.

The holidays make it difficult to avoid Common bladder irritants: caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners.

Caffeine

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, and certain over-the-counter medicines such as cold medications and diuretics for weight loss. It can have effects on the body's metabolism, including stimulating the central nervous system and increasing bladder activity. Caffeine is a known diuretic. Consuming caffeine may result in urgency, frequency, and/or incontinence. Studies have demonstrated that individuals with bladder symptoms who have reduced caffeine intake to less than 100mg/day noted improvement in symptoms. If you choose to limit products containing caffeine, do so slowly over a period of several weeks as strong headaches may result during the withdrawal period.

Alcohol

Alcohol has also been shown clinically to act as a bladder stimulant, triggering symptoms of urgency. In addition, it acts as a diuretic and may induce greater frequency of urination.  Alcohol inhibits arginine vasopressin, also known as antidiuretic hormone or ADH. The purpose of ADH is to conserve water in the body by reducing its loss in urine. Without ADH, the kidneys don’t reabsorb water as easily therefore you fill the bladder quickly with water-diluted urine leading to frequency. Alcohol affecting the availability of ADH can lead to urination being induced 20 minutes after a person consumes.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners (sodium saccharine, acesulfame K, and aspartame) have been shown to affect bladder function in limited animal studies. They have been found to cause bladder irritation in people with interstitial cystitis (IC) or chronic bladder inflammation. Additionally, they are known to aggravate symptoms in someone with a urinary tract infection. But the good news is that stevia, a natural sweetener, does not appear to cause bladder irritation.

Spicy Foods

Some individuals have noted bladder control issues after consuming high acid and hot and spicy foods such as tomato-based dishes and citrus fruit drinks.

However, if caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, or spicy food is a regular part of your diet, try eliminating them for a week to see if your symptoms improve. Then gradually, every one to two days, add one food/drink back into your diet, making note of any changes in urinary urgency, frequency, or bladder control loss. There may be individual circumstances that causes an individual’s bladder to spasm.

Tips for Success Around the Holidays:

  1. Avoid alcoholic beverages, coffee, and tea. Drink plain water when possible. Don’t restrict fluids to control bladder control.

  2. Drink water, at least six 8-ounce glasses a day. Limiting your amount of liquid will result in less, but the smaller amount of urine is highly concentrated and irritating to the bladder.

  3. In order to avoid the feeling of deprivation around the holidays: if you want a special treat, choose one that you cannot live without, have it, enjoy it, and count it in your dietary record and move on.

  4. Establish regular bowel habits. If you are constipated, add fiber to your diet, or use a laxative. Fluid intake also helps with constipation. Eliminating chronic constipation can also eliminate a source of signals to the brain suggesting that the bladder has an emptying problem when the source of discomfort is really the large intestine and rectum.

  5. Avoid going to the toilet “just in case”. This bad habit may lead to frequent urination because you will reduce the bladder’s holding capacity.

  6. Use the toilet regularly – every 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours.

Your Guide To Eating During The Holidays For A Healthy Bladder

Eating Well To Maintain Good Bladder Health

The holidays are well upon us, and for many, this means an influx of all types of delicious holiday food and drinks.  Maintaining healthy eating habits is always at the top of mind for my family and me, but during the holidays, it’s sometimes easy to let our guard down.  Sneaking an extra cookie from the batch made for my son’s class treats, having that extra glass of wine at the holiday Christmas party – it can all add up.  And if you have symptoms of Overactive Bladder (OAB), as I do, these little extras can make them even worse and end up putting an unwanted damper on the holiday season.

At my last appointment, I asked my physician for some tips on how to best manage my diet during the holidays to ensure that I’m not running to the toilet every five minutes.  She told me that the best rule of thumb is to try to stick to your normal eating plan as much as possible.  “After all”, she said, “you probably already have a good idea of what types of foods irritate your bladder and increase your symptoms.” (Ahem, chocolate, I’m looking at you.)  So, keep it simple and try to stay the course.  However, she said, if you must indulge (it is the holidays after all), do so sparingly.  And try to avoid the below foods as much as possible, since they are known bladder irritants.

Alcohol. 

That glass of wine or champagne may seem like a good idea, but alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it creates additional urine in the bladder.  This can cause an increase in urge incontinence, and may also trigger symptoms of overactive bladder.

Coffee and tea. 

Like alcohol, coffee and tea act as diuretics, causing more frequent trips to the restroom.  In addition, they contain caffeine, which can irritate the bladder and create stronger urges.  Limit coffee and tea as much as possible. (I know, I know – I am cringing as I type this at 5 am!)

Soda and fizzy drinks.  

These drinks usually have caffeine, as well as carbonation, which should both be avoided.  In addition, many of them contain artificial sweeteners, which are believed to be a bladder irritant.

Chocolate. 

Unfortunately, chocolate contains caffeine, which may cause bladder irritation.  (I had to use a little restraint to not shout at my doctor for this one.)

Sugar.

While sugary treats may be difficult to avoid around the holidays, you should do your best to limit things like cakes, cookies, and candy.  My doctor explained that sugar –even in inconspicuous forms like honey – can irritate the bladder.  If you must indulge, try to do so sparingly and try to avoid foods containing artificial sweeteners.  This can be a bummer around the holidays, when delicious treats abound, but look at it this way – I just gave you an alibi to avoid your Aunt Marta’s fruitcake this year.  You’re welcome.

Spicy foods.  

Things like curries or many spicy ethnic foods can irritate the bladder and increase symptoms of OAB and incontinence.  Try your best to avoid them.

Acidic foods.

Increased acid in things like citrus fruits, tomatoes, and cranberries can worsen bladder control.

Processed foods. 

Many processed foods contain artificial flavors and preservatives that can irritate the bladder and worsen incontinence symptoms.

I’ve been pretty good so far this season.  Not only are the above tips helping to keep my bladder healthy and avoid accidents, they are also helping me keep my weight in check – something that I think we all struggle with during the holidays. My doctor said this is important too, since increased weight gain can also contribute to a decrease in bladder control.  

Probably the best tip my doctor shared with me is to keep a food diary to track what I eat and to determine how it affects me.  I’ve been at it for a couple of weeks now and it has really helped me identify my “problem areas”.  Not only that, it also keeps me honest – no more stealing a handful of M&M’s from the candy dish as I walk past it.  And while the temptation is sometimes hard to pass up, knowing that it’s helping me stay dry makes it worth it.  And just think, come January, when everyone else is trying to work off those extra pounds they accumulated during the holidays, I’ll already be one step ahead of the game. 

Do you have any diet tips for the holidays?