Diet modification is the first line of defense for patients struggling with interstitial cystitis and overactive bladder. Certain foods and drinks can trigger flare-ups, leading to uncomfortable bladder symptoms. Since sensitivity to certain foods can vary among individuals, it is important to determine your personal trigger foods.
This guide will help you to avoid potential dietary triggers of overactive bladder and interstitial cystitis. Since food sensitivities will vary among individuals, it is important to determine your personal trigger foods. The following are a few tips to manage bladder symptoms through dietary changes and can help you to take control of your bladder health.
· An elimination diet is the first step to figuring out exactly which foods may be troublesome for you. Using a food diary will help you keep track of what you are eating and can also help you determine your reaction to specific foods and beverages. The next step in your elimination diet journey will be a “re-challenging diet”; by reintroducing the eliminated foods one at a time, and monitoring signs and symptoms associated with negative triggers, you will be able to determine what foods to stay away from.
· Make water your preferred beverage. Added ingredients found in sodas and energy drinks, and caffeine, found in in coffee and tea, may aggravate your symptoms. Staying hydrated is important to overall health. Many patients avoid drinking water to escape the urge to urinate. Initially, drastically reducing fluids might seem like a good way to control the urge to go. But drinking too little fluid results in more highly concentrated urine. That can irritate the bladder and may increase the risk for a urinary tract infection. Spread out fluid intake throughout the day, sipping water between meals. Adding baking soda to water can decrease acid in the bladder and ease pain.
REMEMBER: Sensitivity to certain foods can vary among individuals, it is important to determine your personal trigger foods. Also remember that different varieties of the same food may contain different amounts of acid; for example, Granny Smith apples are high in acid, as compared to Red Delicious apples. Therefore, selecting the right variety is the key. Invent your own recipes with items that agree with you. Remember, store bought salad dressing and foods that have been preserved or canned should be avoided.
It is important to carefully plan your approach to eating-out and eating in social settings. Be disciplined and learn to control impulses. Do NOT place yourself in a setting with limited choices. Carry your own snacks and water to make it easier to resist trigger foods.
Have: Eat soothing fruits such as apples – Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, applesauce – homemade with Gala, Fuji, or Pink Lady apples, ripe mangoes, bananas, blueberries, coconut, dates, watermelon, honeydew melons, pears, raisins.
Avoid: Eliminate citrus fruits, as they may prove to be irritants. Such fruits include lemons, oranges, grapes, kiwi, pineapple, nectarines, sour strawberries and cherries, berries – cranberries, most citrus – lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, dried fruit – with preservatives, grapes, guava, kiwi fruit, cantaloupe, nectarines, passion fruit, papaya, persimmon, pineapple, star fruit, strawberries.
Have: Avocadoes, beetroot, potatoes, yams, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms, black olives, beans, turnips, sweet bell peppers, radish, zucchini, asparagus, beans – black eyed peas, garbanzo, lentils, pinto, white, most dried beans, Brussels sprouts, celery, chives, corn, green beans, greens – collard greens, kale, mustard greens, okra, Swiss chard, spinach, bok choy, most salad greens, parsley, peas – green, snow peas, split peas, potatoes, yams, pumpkin, radishes, rhubarb, rutabaga, squash.
Avoid: Onions, hot chilies, sauerkraut, tomatoes, pickles, roasted soybeans, tofu, chili peppers, raw bulb onions, pickles, sauerkraut, soy beans – edamame and roasted, tomato sauces, tomato juice, tofu.
Cereals and Grains:
Have: Wheat, rice, corn, oats, buckwheat, millets, quinoa, plain fresh homemade pasta, breads – corn bread, oat bread, pita, potato bread, white bread.
Avoid: Processed and fortified breads, sweetened, fortified and flavored cereals, ready to eat pastas, soy flour, boxed dishes.
Milk and Dairy products:
Have: Milk, American cheese, cottage cheese, mild cheddar cheese, feta, ricotta cheeses, ice creams, plain yogurt, whipped cream, cream cheese, rice vanilla dessert.
Avoid: Flavored yogurt, artificial, flavored, and heavily spiced cheeses, chocolate ice cream, chocolate milk.
Eggs, Meat, Fish and Poultry:
Have: Eggs, chicken, fish, beef, veal, liver, pork, tuna, turkey, lamb, shrimps, tuna, salmon, clams, crab meat, caviar (Fresh seafood NOT canned), protein powders-whey, egg whites.
Avoid: Aged, canned, cured, processed, heavily spiced, ready to eat or smoked fish and meat, sausages, pepperoni, salami, canned crab meat, hot dogs, smoked fish, soy veggie patties.
Nuts, Oils and Seeds:
Have: Almonds, cashews, peanuts; oils, such as: macadamia, canola, coconut, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame; butters, such as almond, peanut, margarine, shortenings, homemade salad dressings without irritants.
Avoid: Hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and filberts.
Have: Water, low-fat or non-fat milk, blueberry and pear juice, milkshakes other than chocolate milkshake, peppermint and chamomile tea, herbal teas, non-dairy creamers, eggnog. (Can use baking soda in beverages to neutralize acid.)
Avoid: Alcoholic beverages, carbonated drinks, coffee, tea, citrus fruit juices like orange, grape, cranberry, tomato, chocolate and mocha drinks, chocolate and soy milk, sports drinks, energy drinks, vitamin drinks.
Deserts and Sweets:
Have: Berries – blueberries; cake – homemade pound cake, white/yellow cakes, carrot, cookies; frostings - homemade vanilla frosting, homemade caramel frosting, carob, whipped cream; cookies – oatmeal, shortbread, sugar; muffins – carrot; cheesecake; creme brûlée, custards; pie – custard, cream pie, homemade low acid apple pie, pumpkin pie; divinity; sweet breads – homemade zucchini bread; maple syrup pastries – plain, almond, pear; ice cream – peppermint, vanilla+; pudding – tapioca, vanilla+, rice; milkshake – vanilla; sweeteners – brown sugar, honey, sugar; licorice, plain pastries.
Avoid: Artificial sweeteners, caramel or cinnamon candies, chocolates, sorbets, desserts with problem causing nuts, citrus fruitcakes.
Spices, Condiments and Seasonings:
Have: Ginger, garlic, turmeric, all spice powder, caraway seeds, mace, oregano, parsley, basil, coriander, fennel, thyme, aniseeds, dill, vanilla.
Avoid: Paprika, mustard, black pepper, red pepper (cayenne), soy sauce, curry powders, pickles, ketchups, vinegar, MSG, horseradish.
Lifestyle adaptations for bladder problems
Urine is formed in kidneys and travels down your body through tube-like-structures called ureters. Ultimately, urine is stored in a hollow sac known as a urinary bladder. Normally, once this bladder sac is full, nerve signals are sent to the brain and you feel urge to urinate. However, in bladder dysfunction, there is a sudden frequent urge to urinate and sometimes-unintentional leakage of urine. This can happen because of an infection in the bladder, inflammation of the bladder lining, or bladder storage problems. In some cases, patients will leak urine when coughing, straining, jumping, or preforming other physical activities that contract the abdominal muscles.
Medically these conditions are called interstitial cystitis (inflammation of bladder muscles) and overactive bladder (sudden contraction of the bladder without you having control over it).
If you are facing bladder problems that are causing you embarrassment and affecting your social life, then we have certain lifestyle modifications that may benefit you. We recommend trying our dietary changes and behavioral modifications first, before turning to more invasive medicines or surgery.
Want to eat out? Not a problem, but watch your step
If you have a sensitive bladder it is not necessary to restrict yourself to only eating meals made at home. However, rules about trigger foods should still apply if you wish to avoid negative and uncomfortable bladder symptoms. Making some simple lifestyle changes‚ such as swapping potentially troublesome foods for more healthful items, can help you to alleviate bladder symptoms. Let’s see how you can help yourself to get over bladder problems with these simple lifestyle modifications.
#1. Planning ahead before eating out
Before zeroing in on a restaurant, it is a good idea to check their online menu and pick a meal that does not contain any of your trigger foods; by empowering yourself to avoid any last minute confusions and temptations, you can ensure bladder comfortability throughout the night. Avoiding identified trigger foods, even when out, will help you to maintain long-term bladder health.
If you are in a dilemma about the food items listed on the menu, speak to your waiter about possible substitutions. You may want to call the restaurant before dining and ask in detail what ingredients go into a particular menu item. This way you will be able to eliminate food items that may cause bladder irritation, such as spices, smoked foods, citrus fruits, or artificial sweeteners.
#2. Ask questions
Always ask the waiter or waitress if there are any spices or problem-causing-herbs in a specific food item. If he / she replies, “no spices,” ask, “are you sure?” It is important to be vigilant about you bladder health to avoid unnecessary food trigger symptoms. While choosing off the menu, if you are unsure of any ingredient, ask the waiter about it. If you do not get a reasonable answer, just skip that particular dish and choose a safer option.
#3. Modify your selection
When dining out, you should not be afraid to specify how you would like your meal to be prepared. Remember, if anything goes wrong, it’s you who will be in trouble. Be cautious in your selection. Here are few examples of how you can modify your food choices at a restaurant. When ordering a salad, tell the waiter that you do not want onions, pickles, or dressings. If the dish served contains any of these ingredients, request a new plate be brought to you Again, be careful when the new plate comessome restaurants may just remove the trigger ingredients from the plate and serve the same plate with other marinates. This may still trigger uncomfortable bladder symptoms, so be vigilant when relaying this to your waiter.
Additionally, you can also ask for salad dressings and other possible trigger food items to be served “on the side” of the plate. To avoid spicy foods, you can substitute a peppery-rice combination for a plain baked potato. Ask the waiter if the restaurant offers plain non-marinated steak and chicken. A high-fiber meal is preferable and can subsequently improve your bowel health.
While dinning out, try to avoid ethnic cuisines with heavily spiced and preserved foods. Food chains often contain preservative-rich food and it is best to avoid these types of restaurants as well. Be fully informed of all food choices available before making your decision about where to dine out.
Address body and mind
Bladder problems may cause emotional distress and depression. It is important to take control of your body and mind when straddled with these types of issues. Connecting with your body and taking steps to change your lifestyle and behavior can reduce your stress considerably Here are a few tips to reduce bladder problems and manage your bladder health.
#1. Shed those extra pounds
Obesity can increase your risk for painful bladder symptoms, overactive bladder and interstitial cystitis. Staying active and working to lose excess weight can alleviate or, even, eliminate symptoms. Although this may seem like an uphill battle initially, working to shed those extra pounds can have profound physical and psychological benefits that are almost immediately realized.
#2. Reduce stress and relax
Stress and anxiety worsen the symptoms of bladder problems. It may be helpful to learn basic relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and certain breathing techniques. Music and dancing can also reduce stress and encourage mindfulness.
Learning and practicing Tai Chi is another way to reduce your stress levels through exercise and mindfulness. Originally developed for self-defense, Tai Chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that's now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health related conditions. However, women who are pregnant or people with joint problems, back pain, fractures, severe osteoporosis, or a hernia should consult their doctors before trying Tai Chi.
Self-hypnosis may also work to reduce stress, relax the mind and reprogram how you think. Using this tool you can change your thinking, help to kick bad habits and take control of the person that you are It is similar to meditation, and may even result in a better you!
Most importantly, take everyday action, which encourage healthy sleeping habits. Sleeping properly will help to relax your mind, body, and soul and is important for stress relief.
Learn coping skills
Accept the fact that you have bladder problem, but learn to have confidence that you are going to overcome them. Discover coping skills by practicing bladder training. Bladder training can restore normal bladder function through the use of a progressive voiding schedule in conjunction with teaching techniques to control and suppress urgency. A bladder-training program will encourage you to take the following steps.
#1. Identify your pattern
Keep a diary with you for few days to take a note of every time you urinate. This will help you to establish a schedule for bladder training.
#2. Extend time between urination intervals
Now, schedule a voiding regimen with gradually increasing voiding intervals. Start with extending the time of urination by 15 minutes. Make yourself busy and try to put the need to void out of your mind.
#3. Stick to your schedule
Once you have established a schedule, try your best to adhere to it.
#4. Practice relaxing
If you feel a sudden need to urinate before your scheduled time, try to stand still or sit down. Then, take deep breaths while contracting your pelvic muscles and imagining the urge going away. Once you feel relaxed, slowly make your way to the bathroom if you still need to. With time, this practice can help reduce feeling of urgency.
#5. Increase voiding intervals
Gradually extend the time between two urinations until you reach intervals of two to four hours. Be sure to increase your time limit slowly.
Nicotine can irritate the bladder muscles, causing bladder contraction and urgency. Coughing, as a result of smoking, may cause urinary leakage. Smoking cessation may result in decreased lower urinary tract symptoms.
Additionally, caffeine and alcohol can irritate the bladder and increase urination. You can help manage overactive bladder by limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake.
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