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5 Diet tips to help control an overactive bladder

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Diet tips for bladder control

Just as magical foods for weight loss don't exist, no miracle foods will cure urinary incontinence. Certain foods and beverages can irritate your bladder and contribute to bladder leakage, however. Here are five diet tips that can help you control an overactive bladder.
Diet tips for bladder control

According to the National Association for Continence (NAFC), some foods and drinks — including citrus, chocolate, coffee and wine — can worsen urinary incontinence. Though the effects of these foods and beverages on the bladder are not well understood, they should be eliminated from the diet to see if avoiding them improves your urine control. The following diet tips should be a part of your bladder care.


Drink up

Many women restrict the amount of liquid they drink in hopes of reducing the need to urinate. Even though drinking less does reduce urine volume, it causes the urine in your bladder to be more concentrated and more likely to irritate the bladder's surface, and can result in needing to urinate even more. More concerning, restricting fluids can also cause a bladder infection because the highly concentrated urine encourages bacterial growth. To help reduce the urge to urinate while you sleep, drink the majority of your liquids during the daytime instead of evening.


Limit beer, wine and
other alcoholic drinks

Alcohol has a twofold effect on bladder control. It contributes to dehydration and increased urination, and it interferes with the brain's signals to the bladder about when to release urine. If you regularly drink beer, wine or other spirits, consider eliminating them from your diet to see if it helps control your bladder.


Cut back on coffee,
tea and cola

Caffeine irritates the bladder and acts as a diuretic, increasing the need to urinate. According to the NAFC, even decaffeinated coffee can contribute to weak bladder control, so opt for other beverages in place of your caffeinated drinks. The NAFC suggests, "Grape juice, cranberry juice, cherry juice and apple juice are thirst-quenchers that usually are not irritating to a normal bladder."


Go light on the spices

Diet tips for bladder control

Highly spiced foods can upset an overactive bladder. Avoid making dishes with peppers, such as salsa and chili, and always read labels to see if jalapenos or another chiles are in the ingredients list. When flavoring your food, opt for fresh or dried herbs, and always start with fresh, quality ingredients. These naturally have more flavor.

Make a note:  Controlling an overactive bladder requires a multifaceted approach. In addition to making changes in your diet, talk to your doctor about exercises, treatments and other lifestyle factors that affect bladder health.

Skip the sweeteners

Sugar, honey, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners can cause bladder irritation and the urge to urinate. These sweeteners offer few health benefits, so choose naturally sweet foods, such as bananas, apples and other non-acidic fruits. (Avoid tomatoes and citrus fruits because their acidity can irritate the bladder.) This will improve your bladder control by reducing the sweeteners in your diet; plus, it will increase your fiber intake and thus help prevent constipation, which can also contribute to bladder leaks.

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