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.

 

Can Incontinence Be Prevented?

Can Incontinence Be Prevented?

We often talk about incontinence as if it has already happened. In most cases, if you’re visiting this website, it probably has. But there are many things that you can do that can prevent incontinence from starting in the first place. Most of these things may also help you manage, or even eliminate symptoms of incontinence once you’ve already gotten it. Read below for some tips to stop incontinence in its tracks.

5 Tips To Prevent Incontinence

Tip #1: Maintain A Healthy Weight

Carrying around extra weight puts a lot of strain on the pelvic floor, causing the muscles to weaken and lead to leaks. In addition, folks who are overweight generally put extra pressure on their bladder, which can lead to leakage. Maintain a healthy weight by following a healthy diet and making exercise a part of your daily routine. Bonus: incorporating exercise into your day can strengthen your core and pelvic floor muscles, leading to even greater protection from leaks.

Tip #2: Don’t Smoke

Smoking on its own is an ugly habit and harmful to your health in more ways than one. People who smoke can eventually develop a chronic “smokers cough”. This chronic coughing can put a lot of strain on the pelvic floor, causing it to weaken and lead to incontinence. Smoking also irritates the bladder, causing you to need more frequent trips to the bathroom. And, smoking can lead to bladder cancer. Need help kicking the habit? Read these tips.  

Tip #3: Keep Your Pelvic Floor In Shape

The pelvic floor is a basket of muscles that supports the bladder, rectum and the uterus in women, and the bladder, rectum and prostate in men.  These muscles are essential in maintaining control over your bladder and bowel. Keeping the pelvic floor healthy can go a long way in preventing or treating incontinence.  Learn more about the pelvic floor and how you can protect it here. 

Tip #4: See A PT After Childbirth

We just talked about how important the pelvic floor is in maintaining continence. But certain things, like childbirth, can really wreak havoc on the pelvic floor and cause it to weaken. Many women don’t understand the impact that a weakened pelvic floor can have on them, even long after the baby is born.  Seeing a physical therapist specially trained in women’s health soon after childbirth can be very helpful, as they can ensure that you are healing properly and learning how to correctly (and safely) get your pelvic floor back into shape.  If left untreated, a weakened pelvic floor can lead to things like incontinence and even pelvic organ prolapse later in life, so this simple step can go a long way in protecting yourself for the future.  Learn more about how a physical therapist can help you here.

Tip #5: Watch Your Diet

This may seem to echo Tip #1, but even if you are at an ideal weight, if you’re eating foods that irritate your bladder (and if you’re susceptible to incontinence) then you may be setting yourself up for leaks.  There are many common bladder irritants (see a list of some of them here) but they can vary from person to person: what irritates one person may not bother another. If you do experience leaks, pay close attention to your diet and take note of foods that may be triggering leaks.

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?

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: 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!

The Importance of Diet & Exercise In Preventing Diabetes

The Importance Of Diet And Exercise In Preventing Diabetes

We all know the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and getting consistent exercise into our daily lives.  But with over 29.1 million Americans living with Type 2 diabetes – that’s nearly 10% of us! – it’s more important than ever that we get ourselves in check. 

Type 2 diabetes is marked by high levels of blood sugar.  Typically, insulin (produced by the pancreas) helps process sugar (glucose) in the body. However, over time, those with Type 2 diabetes develop insulin resistance, a condition where the body does not use insulin properly and allows glucose to build up in the blood.  This starves the cells for energy and, over time, can create lots of other damage in the body, including to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, or the heart.  Nerve damage can sometimes also occur in the bladder, causing diabetics to experience incontinence. While men and women are both at risk for developing diabetes, men have been found to be more susceptible to the disease based purely on biology.

Many people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood sugar with a healthy diet and regular exercise.  What does this look like? A diet rich in vegetables (these should take up half your plate!), fruit, lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy in moderate amounts, and healthy fats from things like avocado and nuts is best.  Additionally, getting 30 minutes of good exercises per day (think brisk walking, strength training, and stretching) at least 5 days a week can help keep your blood glucose in check, and lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. 

Want to learn more about how to prevent or manage diabetes with diet and exercise? Check out the recommendations from the American Diabetes Association and get yourself on the right path today.

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? 

What’s stopping you from ____________ ?

Motivation To Live The Life You Want

We all have things in life that serve as obstacles. Those obstacles could be emotional, relational, career-oriented, or for many, a struggle with incontinence. 

We don’t believe it’s right to let anything stop us from living out our dreams.  We’re all human and we all have different challenges. Incontinence is just one of many things you may have on your list of challenges.

Below, you’ll find a downloadable PDF to help you identify what you want in life, whether it’s as simple as drinking more water or spending more time with family, or building a treatment plan to manage your incontinence with your doctor.  We believe in staying accountable to our goals—especially when it comes to managing our bladder health.

Use the graphic to help you identify your goals. Circle the things you’re looking to achieve and make note of what’s stopping you. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

How To Drink More Water

How To Drink More Water

We’ve all heard that drinking more water can help improve our health. Even the first lady, Michelle Obama, is making serious strides to encourage people to drink more H20. Drink UP, the movement sponsored by the Partnership for a Healthier America (and for which Mrs. Obama is the Honorary Chair) has already encouraged a big boost of water consumption in grocery stores, restaurants and homes across America since its inception in 2013.  

There’s good reason for the push. Drinking water has been shown to have a host of benefits, ranging from increased energy, better overall health, and better mood. These benefits are not lost on your bladder either – staying well hydrated can help keep your bladder functioning well and can flush out your urinary tract, preventing bladder infections. 

Here are some ways that will have you raising your glass to more water.

 Add your own flavoring. 

Sure, there are lots of flavor packets out there designed to spice up your water.  But why not add your own?  Try adding watermelon, cucumber, or lemon to your glass for an extra flavor boost.

Invest in your health. 

Splurge on a cool water bottle that you’ll actually enjoy using.  We love the Eddy Water Bottle from Camelbak, which comes in a wide variety of colors to choose from.

 Eat more water rich foods. 

Water-rich foods, such as soup, celery, grapes, and oranges can also help you stay hydrated. 

Temper your drinking. 

Drinking a glass of water for every glass of alcohol while out to dinner can help you stay hydrated and avoid the negative effects that an extra glass of wine might have on your bladder.

Get some help. 

Need some encouragement?  Use the iPhone app, Waterlogged, to set reminders and chart your water consumption over time.

Have some tips of your own?  Share them with us in the comments below!

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.