You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Top Stories

The 5 Worst Foods and Drinks for Bladder Health

Cooking Light logo Cooking Light 20/05/2019 Brierley Horton
a person in a white shirt © Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Did you know that 40 percent of women experience overactive bladders? “Take five women in a room and two of them are affected,” says Rupa Kitchens, MD, urologist at Urology Centers of Alabama. “And about 25 percent of men,” she adds. In total, about 33 million adults in the U.S. suffer from an overactive bladder.

Here’s the thing: An overactive bladder affects more than just how many times you’re running to the restroom. “It affects everything,” says Kitchens. From work productivity (how can you sit at your desk and get through a task if you’re constantly getting up to go to the bathroom?) to sexual health.

Bladder pain Bladder pain

In one study, women with overactive bladders reported it hindered function, frequency, and satisfaction in the bedroom—a triple whammy. And that can take a toll on a romantic relationship. There’s a mental health component, too. “It predisposes people to depression because if someone is constantly wet, they don’t want to leave the house. So people stay home and avoid activities, they stick to the same routines like the grocery store because they know where the bathroom is,” says Kitchens. “In my opinion, the only thing worse is stool leakage.”

Turns out, some of your favorite guilty pleasures could be exacerbating the issue. In other words, what you eat and drink impacts your bladder in more ways than just filling it up. And, in fact, your habits now can impact your incontinence—or lack thereof—later in life.

Gallery: Health problems you may need to worry about more if you're a man (INSIDER)

Here are the five foods and drinks to avoid if you have an overactive bladder.

Citrus

This includes lemonade; orange, grapefruit, and pineapple juices; and citrus fruits such as lemons and limes. The acid in them can irritate your urinary tract lining, including your bladder. For some people, tomatoes (which are acidic) can also be problematic. The good news? You don’t have to eliminate citrus altogether. It’s about moderation—Kitchens says a glass of lemonade once a month is fine.

Caffeine

Front view close up of a woman hands holding a coffee cup with thumbs down at home Front view close up of a woman hands holding a coffee cup with thumbs down at home Coffee is a common offender because it can full of caffeine (and we Americans love our coffee). Not only will coffee make you urinate more often (it’s a diuretic), but caffeine also may have an “excitatory effect” on the smooth muscle that lines your bladder. Don’t drink coffee? Be mindful of the caffeine in tea, sodas, chocolate, and energy drinks.

Soft drinks

These are on the no-no list because of both their caffeine and carbonation. Why exactly carbonation is an issue isn’t fully known, but one of the largest published studies that looked at women and urinary incontinence identified drinking carbonated drinks as one of the top three diet and lifestyle factors (obesity and smoking were the other two) associated with the onset of overactive bladder symptoms.

Artificial sweeteners

Tea herbs and sweetener tablets - Teekräuter und Süßstofftabletten © HeikeRau Tea herbs and sweetener tablets - Teekräuter und Süßstofftabletten Faux sugars found in “sugar-free” foods and candy, as well as diet sodas, can sometimes bother people, but, according to Kitchens, less so. That said, in one small study Diet Coke and caffeine-free Coke irritated participants more so than classic Coke and plain carbonated water. And then there’s an animal study that suggests artificial sweeteners may cause the smooth muscle that lines your bladder to contract more.

Alcohol

Bartender pouring fresh alcoholic drink into the glasses with ice cubes on the bar counter Bartender pouring fresh alcoholic drink into the glasses with ice cubes on the bar counter Not only does it make you pee more (just like caffeine, it’s a diuretic), but some doctors advise against drinking too much alcohol as they believe it can irritate the lining of your urinary tract. Though the research is still not conclusive when it comes to nixing alcohol if you have an overactive bladder, the anecdotal evidence (and MD advice) is fairly strong.

The Bottom Line

If you suffer from an overactive bladder, so-called behavior changes are actually the first line of therapy.

And number one, per Kitchens, is finding a substitute for what you gave up. “Don’t go without. Find something you like and substitute it for what you can’t have,” says Kitchens. Look for a flavored water or try coconut water. You can drink decaf tea and coffee in small amounts. Even a non-citrus juice, like apple juice, can be enjoyed in moderation.

woman with urine urgency in the bathroom woman with urine urgency in the bathroom

If your overactive bladder causes you to leak, kegel exercises can help you control your urgency better. There’s also research that suggests being obese is associated with urinary incontinence, so if you’re overweight or obese, losing weight could be beneficial.

And then there are medications, which are actually fairly common. “Over-the-counter medications are available, but the possibility of them helping is low,” advises Kitchens. “I don’t have a single patient on that alone.” She recommends you see your primary care doctor or urologist to discuss the possibility of a prescription medication.

MSN UK are Empowering Happiness for mental health awareness month. Find out more about our campaign and the charities working to stop people falling into crisis here.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Cooking Light

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon