Foods that improve urinary health

Everything you put in your mouth will end up passing through your bladder eventually, and certain foods can boost bladder health, while others may irritate it. We’ve rounded up the best and worst foods for bladder health.

What to consume and what to avoid
Woman drinking cranberry juice

If you’re prone to frequent bladder issues like infections, or even if you just want to prevent them altogether, look to your diet.

What to eat or drink

Water

Water helps clear out toxins, dilute other materials in your body and, of course, makes you urinate so you rid yourself of any excess irritants. Your urine should be nearly clear in colour and odourless if you are drinking enough water. Try to drink at least eight glasses of purified water a day. For a boost of flavour and extra detoxifying benefits, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to each glass.

Cranberry

Cranberry has long been known as a way to prevent bladder infections. Chemicals in cranberries can actually inhibit bacteria from accumulating in the bladder by stopping it from attaching to the bladder wall. This means any bacteria in the bladder will pass in the urine. Many store-bought cranberry juices are loaded with sugar, which is an irritant to the bladder. Avoid juices like cranberry cocktail, and opt for pure cranberry juice or cranberry extract instead.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables — especially those high in antioxidants and vitamin C — are known to help prevent or treat bladder infections. Some good options include berries, tomatoes, bell peppers and squash. If you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, you’ll get other beneficial nutrients as well, like vitamin E, magnesium and potassium.

Garlic

Garlic is a known natural antibiotic, and it contains compounds that stimulate the immune system. To top it off, garlic has been shown to detoxify chemical carcinogens and inhibit the growth of cancer cells. So you’ll be doing your bladder a favour and protecting yourself against cancer. Not to mention, garlic is delicious. Onions have similar properties, so consider adding them to your diet as well.

What to avoid

Caffeine

Caffeine in all forms, including coffee, tea and soda, can irritate your bladder. Not only is the caffeine a problem, but the acids in coffee, tea and soda can be irritants as well. Soda contains a lot of sugar and other chemicals that can promote bacterial growth or lead to infection. Avoid these products if you have an infection, and consume them sparingly if you are prone to bladder issues.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a diuretic, which both increases the frequency of urination and the concentration of the urine. That can lead to irritation and inflammation in the bladder. Carbonated alcoholic drinks like beer can create gas and pressure, while hard liquors are more likely to cause inflammation. Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages, and be sure to drink a lot of water during consumption to help dilute the alcohol and flush the bladder.

Artificial sweeteners and preservatives

Artificial sweeteners and preservatives are essentially chemicals, and they can irritate your bladder. When you digest artificial sweeteners, they produce an acid that can impact the balance in your bladder. Not much is known about the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners and preservatives on the body, so in general it’s best to avoid them if possible.

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