The saying goes – you are what you eat and drink. What you eat and drink can also affect your bathroom activity, especially when you are experiencing bladder leaks from a condition called stress urinary incontinence, the unintentional loss of urine that happens when coughing, sneezing, laughing hard, running or heavy lifting puts pressure (stress) on your bladder.
Small dietary changes may help, as well as eating a healthy diet that leads to weight loss and reducing the pressure on the bladder.
Watch the Water – too little or too much. Stick to the recommended 6-8 glasses of water a day.
Take it easy with Alcohol.
Alcohol makes you go more often and affects the messages from the brain to the bladder that tell it when to hold the urine and when to let go. Alcohol gives you less control of the signaling and you are more likely to have an accident.
Cut back on Caffeine and Carbonation.
Soda, tea, chocolate and coffee – even decaf coffee – can make you feel like you need to “go” since it prompts the body to get rid of liquids.Carbonation can irritate the bladder and cause an urge to “go”.
Limit yourself to 1 or 2 caffeinated beverages per day.
Sacrifice the Spices.
Some people find that chili peppers, chili, horseradish and cuisines that are spicy can irritate the lining of the bladder just like caffeine.
If you are in menopause, there are some additional dietary changes that may be helpful:
- Add Tofu. The leading cause of stress incontinence in menopause is hormonal imbalance, when dipping estrogen levels affect the urinary tract lining. Tofu is a soy product that contains high concentrations of phytoestrogens, which can mimic the body’s own supply of the hormone and help reduce bladder leaks.
- Mint. While spicy foods may irritate the lining of the bladder, mint does not and is also mild on the stomach.
- Bananas. Some fruits may be too acidic and irritate the bladder. Bananas are loaded with potassium and other nutrients that are good for your health, but do not irritate the bladder.
- Decaf green tea. Decaffeinated green tea can actually help with menopausal symptoms, and is full of antioxidants.
- Whole wheat bread. Provides fiber that helps the digestive system.
- Almond milk. Almond milk has less calories and cholesterol than cow’s milk, and some people prefer the taste over soy milk.Along with other healthy lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and treating your chronic cough, modifying your diet and watching your weight may help lessen the risk of stress urinary incontinence as well as improve your symptoms.