Manage Incontinence By Improving Your Diet
If you struggle with bowel or urinary incontinence, managing your diet by avoiding known triggers of symptoms and incorporating healthier options can make a significant difference in your quality of life and confidence.
There is no standard anti-incontinence diet, but there are widely accepted guidelines to follow that can help. Self-discipline is necessary as with any change in eating or drinking habits, but progress can be immediate so your persistence is likely to be rewarded.
Incontinence Trigger Foods to Avoid:
Depending on your symptoms, some of these trigger foods may not be relevant. As with all guidelines, apply them to your specific condition.
The main elements to avoid include salt, fat, acid, heavy spices, chocolate and artificial sweeteners.
Citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit), tomatoes (including tomato sauce and salsa) are referenced by many people dealing with incontinence as making their symptoms worse.
The easy answer is to eliminate these acidic foods from your diet completely. Some may go in that direction, but the overall point is to minimize your intake of them. You may love salsa, but have a smaller amount than normal and see if your symptoms improve.
You can also eat other fruits that are less acidic yet still good for your health. Examples include berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries), pears and apples.
Heavy spiced foods:
Food based around hot peppers, chilies, wasabi and other strong ingredients may cause major problems for your bladder.
Moderation again is the key here; cut back on the frequency of these types of meals and see if your symptoms get better.
Sweeteners such as saccharin, sucralose, aspartame, neotame and acesulfame potassium can be in food and drink. Read the labels of any pre-packaged or processed items you are interested in and avoid if those sweeteners are listed. Or work to eat only food where you know the direct source, support local farm to table efforts where you live and buy fresh whenever possible.
Caffeine is the culprit here. We all love chocolate, but again try to minimize your intake of it and see if your symptoms improve.
Salty and fatty foods:
Items like cheese, potato chips, salted nuts, and other salty or fatty snack foods can cause the body to retain water plus they lead people to drink more liquids due to the salt. All that retained liquid ends up in the bladder which can cause accidents or have you running for the bathroom.
Decrease or stop your intake and see how your symptoms respond. Healthy snacks do exist without all the salt and fat or even unsalted versions of nuts can be substituted as an experiment.
Incontinence Trigger Drinks to Avoid:
As for drinks, there are some similarities with foods, but volume of intake can be even more important.
It is recommended to make water your preferred beverage. Caffeine avoidance is vital here just like chocolate. Coffee, tea colas and energy drinks may aggravate your bladder. Also, look out for acidic fruit drinks like orange, grapefruit and tomato.
Alcohol can be another bladder irritant and trigger for incontinence symptoms. If you cannot imagine a day without coffee, it is better to drink it in the morning and you could even try decaf versions to see if that improves your symptoms.
Maintaining hydration remains important to overall health. However, for those struggling with urinary incontinence, watching how much you drink can make a difference. The American Urogynecologic Society suggests drinking water when you're thirsty instead of fixating on always having a certain number of glasses of water daily. Depending again on your specific symptoms, you likely can find the right balance in between those
Suggestions for handling your fluid intake:
Spread out fluid intake throughout the day
Fill your cup or glass half-way or use a smaller cup.
Sip, don't gulp.
Urine should be light yellow or almost clear if you're hydrated
If following these guidelines still does not lessen your incontinence symptoms and or make your life easier, another suggestion is to start keeping a diet diary. Document what and when you eat and drink and your urination or bowel cycles each day. This can help you identify possible culprits in your diet not covered by the guidelines. Always remember, incontinence is unique to each individual and you need to find the program that works best for you.
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