Can Certain Foods Irritate Your Bladder?

It’s common knowledge that too much caffeine can cause bladder irritation, but can certain foods do the same? The answer is yes. Certain foods and drinks can irritate your bladder and possibly contribute to urinary incontinence. If you frequently experience urinary frequency, urgency, and even pain, you may need to watch what you eat and drink.

Fortunately, knowing which food and drinks to avoid can be a safe, easy, and effective way to improve your bladder health and reduce inconvenient symptoms.Continue reading to learn the top seven foods to avoid to prevent bladder irritation, why bladder health is important, and how USOC can help you with your bladder health.

How Can Certain Foods Irritate Your Bladder?

Have you ever felt an urgent need to go to the restroom after eating certain foods? If so, you’re not alone.The bladder is a muscular sac that stores urine until it is ready to be excreted. A mucous membrane layer lines the bladder’s walls which helps protect it from infection.

In order to prevent any irritation that could cause pain or other symptoms, you need to drink enough water to dilute your urine. You will be less likely to damage the lining of your bladder by doing this.

Some foods and beverages can irritate the lining of your bladder, like spicy or acidic foods — creating painful and uncomfortable symptoms. Acidic or alkaline foods cause almost caustic urine, which triggers more irritation and inflammation.

7 Foods to Avoid to Prevent Bladder Irritation

You may wonder what foods or drinks you should avoid for the sake of your bladder health. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, you can follow some general guidelines. 

If you have bladder problems, you should limit or avoid the following foods and drinks:

1. Coffee and Tea

Caffeine can cause significant bladder irritation since it is a diuretic. There is a small amount of caffeine in most teas and decaf coffee. In addition to irritation, it can also cause frequent urination, and in excess, it can even cause UTIs.

2. Carbonated Drinks and Beverages

Carbonated drinks and beverages like soda, sparkling water, and energy drinks can irritate the bladder and lead to urinary frequency, urgency, and bladder leakage.

If you’re one of the many people who love their diet beverages or “zero-calorie” energy drinks, you might want to think twice before you take your next sip. It may seem healthier to drink sugar-free beverages, but artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin, can actually irritate your bladder.

3. Alcohol

While alcohol doesn’t cause bladder problems, it can make them worse. Alcohol, including beer, wine, and liquor, is a diuretic that increases urine production, leading to more bathroom trips and accidents.

Alcohol can also irritate the bladder and make it more difficult to control your urine stream. If you’re dealing with bladder issues, you should talk to your doctor about how much alcohol is safe to drink.

4. Acidic Fruits and Fruit Juices

While eating fruits is a crucial part of any healthy diet, certain acidic fruits and juices can irritate the bladder and cause urinary problems. Citrus fruits, including oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits, can aggravate the bladder.

While cranberry juice is often the “go-to” for urinary tract infections (UTIs), cranberries are acidic and have the potential to worsen bladder symptoms. 

5. Tomato-Based Foods

Tomato-based foods, including tomato juice, are acidic and can cause problems for people with bladder issues. In a similar way to acid poured on a wound on your hand, foods high in acid cause irritation.

6. Spicy Foods

Spicy or hot foods, like hot sauces, hot peppers, and foods containing certain spices, can irritate the bladder and cause urinary frequency and urgency. Some people may also experience burning urination from indulging in too many spicy foods.

7. Chocolate

While many people enjoy chocolate, it’s unfortunately often singled out as a bladder irritant. Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, contains caffeine and can be acidic.

What are Bladder-Friendly Foods?

Now that you know which foods can irritate your bladder, let’s discuss what you can eat to improve bladder health

Vegetables

Due to their cancer-fighting properties, cruciferous vegetables are among the healthiest vegetables. They include:

  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Turnips

Besides being packed with vitamins C, E, and K, these vegetables are also a good source of folate and fiber, which promote bladder health.

Green beans and Winter squash make for excellent choice for bladder health. You can add some color to your plate with green beans, which have about 31 calories per one cup serving. They can be eaten raw, added to salads, or roasted with a light oil. When it comes to Winter squash, there are three types:

  • Acorn squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Spaghetti squash

Fun Fact

Despite their name, Winter squash are available during both the fall and winter. 

Potatoes are a great choice if you’re looking for a comfort food that won’t irritate your bladder. They’re incredibly versatile and are a great food to eat as the weather turns chilly. You have plenty of choices for taste preferences because there are more than 4,000 in the world. Among the best types of potatoes for your bladder are russet potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Fruits

In spite of unconfirmed claims that eating fruits that are shaped like particular organs or body parts will help that specific area, pears are great for your bladder—a pear shaped organ. In addition to being loaded with fiber, they also have more antioxidants than many other fruits. 

Another fiber filled fruit are bananas which are also high in potassium. This can help encourage regular bowel movements and flush out your urinary tract. Moreover, bananas are non-acidic and won’t irritate your bladder, but instead provide you with nutrients that you need in a balanced diet.

Due to their low sugar content and high antioxidant content, berries are excellent fruits for regular consumption. Many types of berries are beneficial to bladder health, including those high in vitamin C such as:

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries

Blueberries have high levels of vitamin C, which can help your bladder stave off bad bacteria. Berries have high water content, so they can also help you flush out your urinary tract system throughout the day to avoid UTIs. Berries are great when eaten alone, but can be added to smoothies, salads, or other delicious recipes.

Lean Proteins and More

In order to avoid bladder irritation, it is best to consume lean proteins. You should avoid frying these lean proteins or cooking them in too much oil as this can cause irritation. Fish, chicken, pork, turkey, and beef are among the best lean proteins for bladder health.

You can get a lot of protein and healthy fats from nuts, a great, heart-healthy food. Although most nuts are bladder-friendly, certain nuts can irritate the bladder. Stick to almonds, cashews, and peanuts for the best results.

Another great source of protein that won’t irritate your bladder is eggs. For many bladder conditions, they’re actually considered some of the least bothersome foods, making them an important part of a balanced diet.

Last but not least, whole grains and bread are great sources of healthy carbohydrates without causing bladder issues. The best whole grain options are quinoa, rice, and oats. Generally, bread can be consumed without any issues as well. Talk to your doctor about a healthy alternative if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.

Why is a healthy bladder important?

Bladder health is essential for your overall health and well-being. As we age, our bodies go through a lot of changes. One of those changes is the health of our bladder. You can contribute to good bladder health by adjusting as follows:

  • Fluid Intake: Drinking plenty of fluids (preferably water) to dilute the urine and make it less likely to irritate the bladder 
  • Clear Your Bladder: Go to the bathroom when the urge arises 
  • Pelvic Floor Exercises: Regularly perform pelvic floor exercises (such as Kegels) to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder 
  • Adjust Your Diet: Avoid foods and drinks that irritate the bladder

Prevent Bladder Problems (Before They Start)

A healthy bladder can provide relief from the following health issues:

  • Prevent painful urinary tract infections, which potentially could lead to more severe health problems
  • Reduce the inconvenience of an overactive bladder
  • Decrease the embarrassment of incontinence
  • Maintain good kidney function and lessen the occurrence of kidney stones
  • Reduce the risk of developing bladder cancer

When to Seek Help

Trouble with your bladder may be a sign of a bigger problem. If you’re concerned about your bladder health, talk with a urologist. They can help you to determine if there’s a problem and, if so, develop a treatment plan.

USOC Can Help You With Your Bladder Health 

If you’re having issues with your bladder health, trust USOC to help you find solutions. At The Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, we have highly skilled and trained urologists who are dedicated to providing the best possible care for our patients.

Learn how USOC can help you with your bladder health with one of our free guides about urology and the changes you can make to better your health! Or take the first step to improve your bladder health by scheduling an appointment with one of our incredible urologists at one of our several locations — your bladder will thank you!

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