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How Diet Affects Bladder Control

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Shield HealthCare
10/27/15  4:15 PM PST
Diet and Incontinence

Diet and Incontinence

Although there is no special diet to cure incontinence, certain foods and beverages are thought to contribute to bladder leakage. Their effect on the bladder is not always understood, but you may want to see if eliminating one or all of the irritants listed below improves bladder control.

Common Bladder Irritants Include:

  • Milk or milk products
  • Tomatoes or tomato-based products
  • Citrus juice & fruits
  • Highly spiced foods
  • Chocolate
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Corn syrup
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Carbonated beverages (with or without caffeine)
  • Coffee or tea (even decaffeinated)
  • Medicines that contain caffeine

Proper Hydration and Water Intake

Many people with bladder control problems reduce the amount of liquids they drink in the hope that they will urinate less. This can create highly concentrated, irritating urine which can make a person have to go to the bathroom more often. This also encourages the growth of bacteria, which can lead to infections.

Fluids to ADD to the Diet Include:

  • Water
  • Grape juice*
  • Cranberry juice*
  • Apple juice*

Water is essential for body functions including digestion, absorption, circulatory and excretory functions, as well as the absorption of water soluble vitamins. Water is also required for the transport of nutrients and waste within our bodies, to make saliva, cushion joints and plays a major role in temperature regulation.

*Many fruit juices contain some natural vitamins and minerals – however, they are also higher in sugar (fructose) and calories. Be sure to check with your doctor before adding any fruit juices to your diet.

Estimating Fluid Requirements:

To estimate your fluid requirements, multiply your weight in kilograms by 35 milliliters, then convert those milliliters to ounces.  Here is a handy online conversion tool to help with conversions: www.metric-conversions.org/.

  • 40ml/kg for active 16-30 years of age
  • 35ml/kg for 20-55 years of age
  • 30ml/kg for > 55-75 years of age
  • ˜25ml/kg for >75 years of age (also applies for renal/cardiac involvement)

Example: For a 55 year-old at 150 pounds (68kg), 68kg x 35ml = 2,380ml, or 10 cups/day (8 oz.)

Conditions with a Risk of Under-hydration Include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression
  • CVA (Stroke)
  • Infections
  • Malnutrition
  • Incontinence

Many common medications are also associated with dehydration. These include diuretics, psychotropics, laxatives, steroids, and ACE inhibitors. Ask your physician whether any of the medications you or your loved one take could be causing dehydration.

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