Creating the Ideal Diet for Overactive Bladder

People who have an overactive bladder (OAB) often feel the need to urinate urgently. They may also experience urine incontinence or leakage of urine. This happens because the bladder muscles start contracting, even when the bladder is not full. An overactive bladder is a term used to describe various symptoms related to the urinary system. Many people with this condition notice they have difficulty reaching the bathroom without leaking urine. There are several things you can do to get relief from these symptoms, including changing your diet. Let us look at how to create the ideal diet for an overactive bladder.

Relation of Diet with Overactive Bladder

An overactive bladder is a term used for a variety of symptoms that are related to the urinary system. The most common symptom of an overactive bladder has a frequent and urgent need to urinate that is not easy to control.(1, 2) If you have an overactive bladder, there are some foods and drinks that can cause further irritation to your urinary tract or bladder.(3, 4, 5) This can cause an increase in the severity of some of your symptoms, including:

It is important to note that foods affects different people in different ways. Certain foods that affect one person negatively might not have any effect on you. This is why experimenting with different foods and drinks can help you shortlist any dietary triggers that aggravate your symptoms. This can be done with the help of a food diary.(6, 7)

We all know that drinking plenty of water is very important for overall well-being. However, in people with an overactive bladder, the more fluid intake you have, the more number of trips you will have to make to the bathroom. And if these fluids are carbonated, they may even aggravate the symptoms of an overactive bladder. This is why it is important to discuss your fluid intake with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to help you understand exactly how much fluid you should drink every day and at what times.(8)

Many people who have an overactive bladder avoid consuming water or other beverages before doing to bed so as to cut down on their nighttime trips to the bathroom. However, it is important to realize that too little fluid intake is also not good for your health. If you drink too little, it might make your urine acidic and concentrated. This will increase your bladder and bowel irritation.(9)

In people who have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, consuming foods that contain gluten may also aggravate the overactive bladder. Gluten is commonly found in wheat, barley, and rye products. Some of the common examples of such foods include:

What to Restrict or Remove From Your Diet for Overactive Bladder?

There are some foods and beverages that contain certain irritants that can aggravate the symptoms of an overactive bladder. Due to this, it is recommended that you restrict or avoid the intake of the following:

  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee(10, 11)
  • Carbonated drinks like sparkling water
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Citrus fruits
  • Spicy foods
  • Honey
  • Raw onion
  • Foods with sugar or sugar substitutes
  • Foods containing preservatives and artificial flavorings
  • Tomatoes and any tomato-based products like tomato sauce, ketchup, and chili
  • Sports drinks like Gatorade

However, removing these irritating foods from your diet does not have to be a strict all-or-nothing approach. You will find that you are able to tolerate some of these foods when you have them in smaller quantities or if you have them occasionally. If you do decide to remove a particular food altogether, you can still consider reintroducing it into your diet after some time.

Can Treatment for Overactive Bladder Affect Your Diet?

There are various treatments for an overactive bladder. Your doctor will recommend relaxant medications for controlling the bladder muscles. Some of the common medications you might be prescribed for an overactive bladder include:

  • Darifenacin (brand name: Enablex)
  • Oxybutynin (brand name: Ditropan)
  • Tolterodine (brand name: Detrol)
  • solifenacin (brand name: VESIcare)
  • fesoterodine (brand name: Toviaz)

While these medications can help relieve some symptoms of overactive bladder, they may also cause side effects. Some of the potential side effects of these medications include constipation and dry mouth.

Constipation

Your bowels are located very near to your bladder. So if you get constipated, you are likely to feel an additional pressure on your bladder. This will cause you to urinate more frequently.

You can prevent this from happening by eating foods that are rich in fiber. Such fiber-rich foods are known to reduce constipation. For example, include a lot of buts like almonds, pecans, and pistachios in your diet.(12,13)

Dry Mouth

Having a dry mouth can also have an impact on the symptoms of an overactive bladder.(14) If you have a dry mouth, you are more likely to consume more fluids than what is typically recommended for a person with an overactive bladder. This can, again, lead to an aggravation of your symptoms. If you have a dry mouth as a side effect of your medications, it is better to take small sips of water throughout the day. There are also many over-the-counter products available that help reduces the feelings of dry mouth.

Some of these include:

  • Saliva substitutes like Biotene Moisturizing Mouth Spray or Mouth Kote Dry Mouth Spray(15, 16)
  • Sugar-free gum or candy that can help stimulate the flow of saliva.
  • Mouthwashes that contain xylitol.(17)

If you are worried about the side effects of your medications, you should bring them up with your doctor. Your doctor will work together with you to find a more suitable medication. However, never stop taking the currently prescribed medications without the consent of your doctor.

What Foods To Include In Your Diet If You Have An Overactive Bladder?

If you have an overactive bladder, it is important that you avoid certain foods that irritate the bladder. At the same time, you should choose to have foods that are rich in vitamins, like vegetables and non-acidic fruits.

Fruits that are good for the health of the bladder include:

  • Coconut
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Blackberries
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries

Some of the vegetables that are good for your bladder health include:

  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Kale
  • Celery
  • Peppers
  • Lettuce

It is also important to include foods that are high in fiber. These foods help prevent constipation, which is known to put a lot of extra pressure on the bladder.

Some of the fiber-rich foods you must include in your diet are:

  • Artichoke
  • Beans
  • Barley
  • Bran
  • Lentils
  • Raspberries
  • Almonds
  • Oats

It is also necessary to include protein in your diet to maintain overall health. Some good sources of protein include:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Tofu

You can experiment with different seasonings to give a new flavor to these dishes. This will help you keep your diet interesting and also help prevent the urge to snack on junk food or those foods and drinks that irritate the bladder.

Conclusion

While there is no cure for overactive bladder, it is possible to alleviate or reduce the severity of your symptoms through medication, lifestyle changes, dietary changes, or both. Identifying the food triggers that aggravate your symptoms can help you reduce the symptoms and also improve your quality of life. Along with following a healthy diet, you should also watch your fluid intake and restrict drinking liquids to the times recommended by your doctor.

References:

  1. Ouslander, J.G., 2004. Management of overactive bladder. New England Journal of Medicine, 350(8), pp.786-799.
  2. Stewart, W., Van Rooyen, J., Cundiff, G., Abrams, P., Herzog, A., Corey, R., Hunt, T. and Wein, A., 2003. Prevalence and burden of overactive bladder in the United States. World journal of urology, 20(6), pp.327-336.
  3. Dallosso, H.M., McGrother, C.W., Matthews, R.J., Donaldson, M.M.K. and Leicestershire MRC Incontinence Study Group, 2003. The association of diet and other lifestyle factors with overactive bladder and stress incontinence: a longitudinal study in women. BJU international, 92(1), pp.69-77.
  4. Dallosso, H.M., McGrother, C.W., Matthews, R.J. and Donaldson, M.M., 2004. Nutrient composition of the diet and the development of overactive bladder: a longitudinal study in women. Neurourology and urodynamics, 23(3), pp.204-210.
  5. Dallosso, H.M., Matthews, R.J., McGrother, C.W., Donaldson, M.M., Shaw, C. and Leicestershire MRC Incontinence Study Group, 2004. The association of diet and other lifestyle factors with the onset of overactive bladder: a longitudinal study in men. Public health nutrition, 7(7), pp.885-891.
  6. McGrother, C.W., Donaldson, M.M., Thompson, J., Wagg, A., Tincello, D.G. and Manktelow, B.N., 2012. Etiology of overactive bladder: a diet and lifestyle model for diabetes and obesity in older women. Neurourology and urodynamics, 31(4), pp.487-495.
  7. Robinson, D., Giarenis, I. and Cardozo, L., 2014. You are what you eat: the impact of diet on overactive bladder and lower urinary tract symptoms. Maturitas, 79(1), pp.8-13.
  8. Hashim, H. and Abrams, P., 2008. How should patients with an overactive bladder manipulate their fluid intake?. BJU international, 102(1), pp.62-66.
  9. Hashim, H. and Al Mousa, R., 2009. Management of fluid intake in patients with overactive bladder. Current urology reports, 10(6), pp.428-433.
  10. Lohsiriwat, S., Hirunsai, M. and Chaiyaprasithi, B., 2011. Effect of caffeine on bladder function in patients with overactive bladder symptoms. Urology annals, 3(1), p.14.
  11. CREIGHTON, S.M. and Stanton, S.L., 1990. Caffeine: does it affect your bladder?. British journal of urology, 66(6), pp.613-614.
  12. Meek, P.D., Evang, S.D., Tadrous, M., Roux-Lirange, D., Triller, D.M. and Gumustop, B., 2011. Overactive bladder drugs and constipation: a meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled trials. Digestive Diseases and Sciences, 56(1), pp.7-18.
  13. ABREU, G.E.D., Dourado, E.R., ALVES, D.D.N., ARAUJO, M.Q.D., Mendonça, N.S.P. and BARROSO, U., 2018. Functional constipation and overactive bladder in women: a population-based study. Arquivos de gastroenterologia, 55, pp.35-40.
  14. Abrams, P., Freeman, R., Anderström, C. and Mattiasson, A., 1998. Tolterodine, a new antimuscarinic agent: as effective but better tolerated than oxybutynin in patients with an overactive bladder. British journal of urology, 81(6), pp.801-810.
  15. Björnström, M., Axell, T. and Birkhed, D., 1990. Comparison between saliva stimulants and saliva substitutes in patients with symptoms related to dry mouth. A multi-centre study. Swedish dental journal, 14(4), pp.153-161.
  16. Vinke, J., Kaper, H.J., Vissink, A. and Sharma, P.K., 2020. Dry mouth: saliva substitutes which adsorb and modify existing salivary condition films improve oral lubrication. Clinical oral investigations, 24(11), pp.4019-4030.
  17. Gil‐Montoya, J.A., Guardia‐López, I. and González‐Moles, M.A., 2008. Evaluation of the clinical efficacy of a mouthwash and oral gel containing the antimicrobial proteins lactoperoxidase, lysozyme and lactoferrin in elderly patients with dry mouth–a pilot study. Gerodontology, 25(1), pp.3-9.