How Diet Affects an Overactive Bladder

February 14, 2021

The good news is most people can reduce or alleviate their symptoms of Overactive Bladder (OAB) through diet and lifestyle changes, medication, or both. If you have OAB, it’s important to avoid foods that can irritate your bladder. Opt instead for whole foods that are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and easy on your system.

You may want to avoid citrus fruits, or acidic fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, and tomato products, like tomato sauce or salsa.

Simple Swaps: Eat more fruits that are less acidic, such as pears or a variety of berries. They are also high in antioxidants, which can benefit an overactive bladder. If you like lemon in your water, try using cucumber instead.

You may also want to avoid foods that can cause constipation, which can put additional pressure on your bladder. Avoid processed grains like white breads and pasta, milk and dairy, and fried or fast foods also contain high fat and little fiber, which can lead to constipation as well.

Simple Swaps: Have whole grain breads and pastas that still have their fiber intact. Instead of fried foods, go for grilled, baked, or pan seared. High fiber foods like oats, bran, beans, lentils, broccoli, carrots, and asparagus are great additions.

Protein is also essential for your overall health. Healthy sources of protein include: fresh water fish, lean poultry like chicken and turkey, eggs, plant based options like tofu, mushrooms, beans, and lentils

Salty foods may exacerbate OAB symptoms as well. When it comes to high salt foods like potato chips and frozen meals, the salt can cause the body to retain water, which eventually goes to the bladder. They also make you thirstier, so you’re likely to drink more liquids.

Simple Swaps: Try using less salt in food preparation, and try finding other herbs that you enjoy and do not cause adverse symptoms. Spicy foods can fall into the same category, so try finding more mild flavor profiles that you still enjoy.

Aside from high salt contents, prepackaged foods and drinks can also contain artificial sweetener.  Make sure you are reading nutritional labels to look for aspartame, saccharin, and other artificial sweeteners. When it comes to beverages, there are a few that can exacerbate OAB issues. One of the biggest OAB culprits is caffeine, which can make you urinate more. Studies show that reducing caffeine intake to below 100 milligrams per day, the amount in one cup of drip coffee, may help reduce symptoms.

The drinks to cut out or cut down on are caffeine, acidic fruit juices, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and drinks with artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and saccharin, which may irritate the bladder
Simple Swaps: If starting your day without a cup of coffee will be a major change for you, try a decaf of half-caf option. You can start by weaning yourself gradually. For fruit juice, try switching to something with less acid, such as apple or pear juice, and dilute it with water.

Overall, a healthy diet is key. Not only do our bodies perform and heal better when they are given proper foods, this may also lead to some weight loss. Carrying excess weight is associated with more urge incontinence, and heavier people are also at greater risk of stress urinary incontinence.

For those patients who could use more guidance and help with diet and OAB, we are proud to offer nutritional consultation services. Call us, book online, or speak to the front office to schedule your appointment.