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.
Here are five diet tips that can help you control an overactive bladder.
1. Drink up
Some women may feel the need to restrict the amount of liquid they drink in hopes of reducing the need to urinate. Even though drinking less does reduce urine volume, it actually causes the urine in your bladder to be more concentrated and more likely to irritate the bladder’s surface (according to Health magazine) — 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.
2. Limit beer, wine & other alcoholic drinks
3. Cut back on coffee, tea & cola
4. 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.
5. Go light on the spices
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 jalapeños 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.
A version of this article was originally published in January 2013.