Nutrition and Urinary Incontinence

Hi Friends,

I’ve now been asked by four people to comment on foods and fluids and how they relate to urinary incontinence (UI).  For those of you who aren’t familiar with UI, I’d recommend you visit this website.  UI is one of those conditions that most people don’t like to discuss and very rarely bring up with their dietitian….which is too bad.  Foods and fluids play a major role in the management of UI.  Here are just a few tips that may help:

  • Drink your water, don’t avoid it.  I find most folks think that drinking less will help them better manage their UI.  Not so.  Staying hydrated and drinking 2 liters of fluid/day seems to help with better management.
  • Eat your protein.  I know, I’m back at it talking about protein but less face it…our pelvic floor has lots of muscles and those muscles need protein to fuel them.  Lack of protein in the diet certainly isn’t going to help with muscle integrity.  Read more about protein here.
  • Talk with your doctor or dietitian to be sure you aren’t deficient in micronutrients like Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C and Zinc.  All of these nutrients have a link to UI and doing some investigating into your diet may help you.
  • Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake.  Several studies have suggested that decreasing and/or eliminating caffeine and alcohol is linked to fewer episodes of UI.
  • Be careful with sugar sweeteners.  Sweeteners like aspartame have been found to contribute to UI.  If possible, I’d encourage you to find foods that either don’t use these sweeteners or that would use a more natural sweetener (like honey).
  • Be careful with foods that could be consider bladder irritants.  Foods that are spicy or acidic (tomatoes, citrus foods, etc.) are notorious for irritation in the bladder and may cause some burning during urination.
  • Keep reading about dyes.  This is an area I’m continuing to learn about but there is more and more literature discussing the use of food dyes and its link to UI.  Dyes like Yellow No. 5 have been linked to bladder spasms and irritation.


Photo credit: nickwheeleroz / / CC BY-NC-SA


4 responses

  1. Many people with bladder control problems reduce the amount of liquids they drink in the hope that they will urinate less. This can create highly concentrated, irritating urine which can make a person have to go to the bathroom more often. This encourages the growth of bacteria, which can lead to infections.

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