The things you eat and drink every day can irritate the bladder and contribute to leaks – but it’s not always obvious which foods are causing your distress. For any woman experiencing urine leaks the most important step is to talk to a doctor, and to set a treatment plan. However, for some women small dietary changes can sometimes help improve bladder health.
There are of course the usual suspects that can make you need to cross your legs before a cough. Balancing your water intake is important – too much can send you sprinting to the ladies’ room, but too little can dehydrate you and make your urine more concentrated, which irritates your bladder. Both alcohol and caffeine (even decaf!) are diuretics, which cause your body to produce more urine, and should be avoided when possible. However, here are 6 more unexpected dietary changes that can help keep the leaks at bay.
Say it ain’t so! All types of chocolate with cocoa in the ingredients list contain some amount of caffeine. If your sweet tooth has you nibbling on a bar or two every day, try to limit yourself or replace it with white chocolate for a little while to see if your leaks get better.
Before you switch out your chocolate stash for a sweets drawer, consider the effect of sugar on your bladder. Sugars, honey, and artificial sweeteners have all been linked to irritated bladders and higher instances of leaks. Cutting down on sugar is also good for keeping your weight in check, a major contributor to type II diabetes risk, which, incidentally, also contributes to bladder control problems
Another bathroom related reason to avoid that ghost pepper firehouse chili: spicy foods can irritate the lining of your bladder – especially in women. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck with boring flavors though, it might take some trial and error but you can find the balance between a satisfying meal and an evening spent rushing to the bathroom.
Even fizzy drinks without caffeine, like seltzer and carbonated fruit drinks can increase your need to go. The carbon dioxide in the drinks (which is what makes it bubble), can irritate your bladder and have you sprinting to the ladies’ room before you know it.
Fruits with high acidity, citrus like lemons or oranges and even pineapple, can aggravate your bladder and increase the likelihood of urge incontinence. Cranberries, which are often recommended for managing urinary tract infections (UTIs), can also irritate the bladder and make leaks more likely so unless you have a UTI it’s best to pick a milder juice or stick to water. Sweet fruits aren’t the only acidic foods; tomatoes are also an issue. Cooking the tomatoes doesn’t help either; even cooked tomato dishes, like pasta sauce and chili can still affect your ability to hold urine in.
6. Add in More Fiber
Constipation is another little-known contributor to problems with urine leaks. If space in your abdomen is taken up by a bowel movement that just won’t move, it leaves less space for your bladder to fill with urine. Constipation is also a risk factor in pelvic floor weakness, the major cause of incontinence. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains, as well as keeping hydrated, can help to avoid constipation.
Remember, you don’t have to cut all of these foods out at once or completely. Talk it out with your doctor to create a treatment plan that includes pelvic floor exercises and a balanced diet in which you still get to enjoy your favorite foods – just not in excess.