Who knew that acidic foods could affect incontinence?
If you have overactive bladder, you probably already spend time thinking about how often you fill up your thermos or mug. Totally understandable. (Here’s the perfect amount of water to drink with OAB, by the way.)
But have you thought about what’s on your dinner plate? It may not be obvious, but the foods you eat may send you to the bathroom even more frequently. Certain trigger foods act as diuretics or bladder irritants, or they may cause constipation. Either way, they lead to the same result: more trips to the bathroom because of overactive bladder symptoms.
Try cutting out these trigger foods for 10 to 14 days to see if your overactive bladder symptoms improve. Then, add them back in one at a time and see if OAB symptoms return. If so, you will have identified the trigger.
Coffee and tea: Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it makes you need to go to the bathroom more (ugh). It’s also a bladder irritant, which also gives you the urge to go. Gotta have some joe? Try keeping your caffeine intake to fewer than 100 milligrams a day, says the National Association for Continence. That’s one cup (8 ounces) of regular coffee, or two cups (16 ounces) of black tea.
Chocolate: Everyone’s favorite sweet is another source of caffeine, although it has way less than coffee (thank goodness).
Alcohol: Beers, wines, and liquors are well-known diuretics.
Carbonated beverages: Soda, even plain seltzer, can irritate the bladder.
Spicy foods: Yeah, a couple extra drops of hot sauce can really elevate a taco, but it may also irritate the bladder lining.
Citrus: Oranges and grapefruits are super acidic (obviously), and all that acidity can bother the bladder. Consider these other non-citrus sources of vitamin C.
Cranberry juice: This drink might be famous for helping to prevent urinary tract infections, but when it comes to incontinence, it’s a different story. Like citrus, cranberries are acidic and may irritate the bladder.
Tomatoes: Wanna guess? Yep, these veggies (err, fruits, actually) are acidic as well.
Dairy: Milk, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese may make overactive bladder symptoms worse in some people.
Artificial sweeteners: Preliminary research suggests they may negatively affect bladder function. Frequency and urgency of urination increased after drinking diet beverages, reported the National Association for Continence, compared to drinks with regular or no sugar. (Here are more reasons to avoid artificial sweeteners.)
Giving up any or all of these trigger foods won’t cure your overactive bladder, but it may reduce your symptoms. Here are more lifestyle changes for overactive bladder that may bring relief.
Dr. Parikh, a board-certified pediatrician affiliated with The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, is HealthiNation's chief medical editor.
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Feel like you're always
going to the bathroom?
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It turns out what you eat could be
making your bladder feel worse.
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Changing up your diet won't
cure incontinence, but
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being aware of trigger foods and
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cutting back on them could make
a difference in how you feel day to day.
00:00:18,910 --> 00:00:22,430
Some doctors recommend eliminating
some of these foods from your diet for
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ten days to two weeks,
to see if your bladder symptoms improve.
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When the bladder is irritated, it provokes
the muscles of the bladder to contract
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involuntarily, resulting in
a sudden need to urinate.
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Some foods are natural diuretics,
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which is something that makes
you go to the bathroom more.
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Acidic foods can affect the bladder.
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Citrus fruits such as lemons and
oranges are the obvious culprits, but
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many forget how acidic
tomatoes are as well.
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Just be sure to continue eating
plenty of non-citrus fruits and
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veggies which are a great source of fiber.
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Fiber can help prevent constipation,
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which can make incontinence worse
by putting pressure on the bladder.
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Watch out for coffee and
tea that contain caffeine,
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which is both a diuretic,
and a bladder irritant.
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Some research has shown that people who
reduce their caffeine intake to less than
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100 milligrams a day
improve their OAB symptoms.
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Chocolate is a surprising
source of caffeine.
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Though it has less than your morning cup
of coffee, if you're a regular chocolate
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snacker, you might wanna try cutting back
and seeing if that improves symptoms.
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Skip a big night of drinking.
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Alcohol can stimulate your bladder and
act as a diuretic.
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Carbonated beverages, like sodas,
can also bother your bladder.
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You may love a spicy dish for dinner, but
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it could be making things worse for
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Unfortunately, you may be
irritating your bladder lining.
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Many think of cranberry
juice as being good for
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your bladder and preventing UTIs, but
it's not so good for incontinence.
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It has diuretic properties and the acidity
of the berries can be irritating.
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Some people with overactive
bladder find that milk and
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dairy make their symptoms worse.
00:02:13,840 --> 00:02:17,100
Artificial sweeteners may
negatively affect bladder function.
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While there may be no cure for
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simple changes in the diet may
help manage it day to day.
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Bladder irritants. Location: Johns Hopkins Women’s Center for Pelvic Health. (Accessed on August 4, 2017 at http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/johns_hopkins_bayview/_docs/medical_services/gynecology_obstetrics/bladder_irritants.pdf.)
Can your diet affect your bladder or bowel control? Charleston, SC: National Association for Continence. (Accessed on August 4, 2017 at https://www.nafc.org/bladderirritants/.)