Food And Drink To Avoid To Keep Incontinence Under Control

Many foods and drinks are known bladder irritants, so we’ve prepared a guide to help you know what to avoid so you can enjoy celebrations with confidence!

Food And Drink To Avoid To Keep Incontinence Under Control

Many foods and drinks are known bladder irritants, so we’ve prepared a guide to help you know what to avoid so you can enjoy celebrations with confidence!

For many of us, celebration means a shift from our normal diets as we join with family and friends. Even for those without health problems, this can often lead to discomfort and digestive issues.

But for those with an overactive bladder and/or urge urinary incontinence, this can present a difficult time to keep symptoms under control.

That's why we’ve prepared a guide to help you know what to avoid so you can enjoy celebrations with confidence.

Managing The Drinks

You might think that alcohol is the main culprit to be avoided - but it might surprise you to know it isn't alone in aggravating an overactive bladder. Other irritants include:

  • Caffeine

Caffeine can relax the muscles in your pelvis and urethra, which increases symptoms of urgency or frequency. As well as this, it can also interrupt your sleep and making you more likely to wake in the night to urinate.

While we know caffeine is found in coffee, there are many other beverages containing caffeine including tea, hot chocolate, cola and energy drinks.

You can opt for decaffeinated versions, which can reduce the effect, however they should be liited as they still contain trace levels of caffeine.

Studies have shown that reducing caffeine intake to below 100 mg per day (the equivalent of one coffee or two teas) may help reduce urge incontinence symptoms.

Herbal teas can also be a good alternative to caffeine laden versions - but be aware that some varieties have a diuretic effect which can increase urination. These include dandelion, elderflower, rose, wild blackberry and nettle. Some herbal teas also have laxative effects, like liquorice and peppermint.

  • Bubbles

Whether it's in sparkling water or sparkling wine, the carbon dioxide in drinks with fizz can irritate a sensitive bladder, increasing the urge to urinate. Stick to still drinks or still water, and maybe skip the offer of a mimosa.

  • Artificial Sweeteners

Often found in flavoured drinks (or even added to your tea), artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin can irritate the bladder. Try to keep the sodas to a minimum, and opt for drinks free of artificial ingredients.

  • Acidity

Acidic drinks might make your mouth water, but can irritate the delicate nerves of the bladder muscle - therefore exacerbating urgency symptoms. When opting for a soft drink, avoid flavours that include citrus, cranberry, pineapple and tomato juice, and try switching to something less acidic like apple or pear juice diluted with water. If you like to flavour your water, try using mint or cucumber instead of lemon or lime.

  • Alcohol

Alcohol has a triple impact - it's a diuretic, can irritate and overstimulate the bladder and impair the messages between the bladder and the brain. Minimise its effects by limiting your consumption to one drink, and avoid beverages with any other aggravating factors, such as sparkling wine or certain mixers.

Whileyou may need to limit or cut out some drinks to keep your symptoms under control, it's equally important to stay hydrated. So, remember:

    • Drink when you're thirsty
    • Sip instead of gulp
    • Spread out fluid intake throughout the day, including between meals
    • 20% of your fluids come from the food you eat

An easy way to know if you're drinking enough water, is to check your urine - when you're well hydrated, it should be light yellow or almost colourless.

Watching The Waistline

Your eating habits can have a double impact on managing your incontinence.

Firstly, increases in Body Mass Index (BMI) are correlated with increased prevalence of incontinence. And secondly, certain foods can have an aggravating effect to the bladder of bowel.

Here are a few suggestions of what foods to be mindful of:

  • Sweet Treats

That's right, that festive season favourite, chocolate - in all its forms - sadly contains caffeine, so it can stimulate an overactive bladder. On the other hand, many candies use artificial sweeteners!

If you can't give up that sweet treat, try to minimise your consumption to one piece of chocolate, and read the labels to avoid any artificial sweeteners or ingredients.

  • Acidic Foods

Just as with drinks, citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomato-based products (including condiments and sauces) can irritate the bladder. Opt for lower acidity fruits such as pears or blueberries, and choose sauces with a white base over tomato.

  • Hot & Spicy

Hot and spicy foods can upset more than just your tastebuds! Studies suggest that people who avoid spicy foods, like curry, chilli peppers and cayenne pepper, may experience a reduction in their urinary incontinence symptoms.

Try cutting back on spices and use herbs and seasoning for added flavour instead to see if you notice the difference.

  • Salty Snacks

While they may not directly irritate the bladder, snacks such as potato chips, pretzels and salted nuts can trigger water retention - which eventually leads to increased urinationonce the body releases water back into your system. They also make you excessively thirsty, leading to higher fluid consumption than you might need.

Look for low sodium varieties, and mix up your snacks with salt-free alternatives.

While it can be hard to manage your diet, particularly during busy social periods, a little planning and awareness of what to avoid can go a long way to keeping your symptoms under control.

And remember, our range of high-quality incontinence aids are engineered with superior absorbency technology, active odour control and slimline materials to offer discreet and effective protection from leaks. Whether you experience light leakage, heavy urinary or bowel incontinence, our range has a product to suit your unique needs.

As always, consult your GP or other health practitioner before making any changes to your diet, or if your symtpoms change. Changes to bladder and bowel habits should never be ignored as they can be related to a number of different causes.

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