How foods Irritate The Bladder
Urine is composed of water and various toxins and substances that our body is trying to eliminate. It is not unusual for a healthy bladder to become irritated by urine, such as in patients going through chemotherapy or with patients abusing ketamine. Another common sign of bladder irritation is the increased frequency that coffee and tea drinkers often complain of. But, when you have an injured or wounded bladder, urine can reach deeper into the bladder wall where it can directly stimulate nerves, stimulate mast cells to release histamine and create profound irritation.
What foods are notorious for causing problems?
Foods high in acid (such as orange or cranberry juice) create tremendous irritation in much the same way that acid poured on a wound on your hand would feel. It hurts! Foods that stimulate nerves, such as caffeine, are notorious for triggering the already sensitized nerves in the bladder. Thus, if you’re struggling with frequency or pain, this means that your bladder nerves are involved. It’s foolish to irritate the nerves to trigger yet more frequency. Foods high in histamines, such as chocolate, can trigger an allergy like reaction. Some, but not all, patients may struggle with foods high in sodium or potassium. Patients may also have individual and often unpredictable reactions to various foods.
The Top Forbidden Foods
The top forbidden foods & beverages are those that bother most IC patients most of the time. They are NOTORIOUS for causing IC flares. Even one small serving a day can trigger a night of sleeplessness and pain. Thus, these are the first foods that should be eliminated from your diet. In our experience, the patients who continue to consume these foods, especially that one cup of coffee a day (decaf or regular), are those who suffer the most with pain and discomfort. Furthermore, we believe that no therapy can counteract the damage and irritation created by a daily “acid” wash from these foods. If you want your bladder to calm down, your first step is to eliminate these risk foods.
1 – Coffees
This is a no-brainer. Coffee’s (regular & decaf) are, by far, the most irritating to an IC bladder, not just for the caffeine but also for the very high acid level. We strongly suggest that you avoid all coffees if you are currently symptomatic. When you’re bladder has calmed down and your symptoms have improved, first try the herbal coffees (Pero or Cafix) and then try a low acid regular coffee (Puroast or Euromild).
2 – Regular & Green Teas
Regular teas (hot and iced) get their flavors from “tannic acid” and thus easily irritate the bladder. Green teas are also notoriously acidic despite the advice of family and friends who say that it helps. It doesn’t. The worst tea of all? Powdered sugar free instant iced teas which are also filled with nutrasweet and other irritating preservatives. If you’re desperate for tea, try a plain herbal chamomile or peppermint teas which are calming and soothing to smooth muscle of the bowel.
3 – Soda & Diet Soda
Think about it? If a soda can remove rust from a penny, just imagine what it would do to a wound in your bladder. Sodas are highly irritating not only for the citric acid used for flavoring, but also for the preservatives and flavorings. Diet sodas are even worse because nutrasweet is metabolized into a very strong acid and basically scours the bladder. If you’re desperate for a soda, try an organic root beer but, please, only once a month.
4 – Fruit Juices
Fruit juices, particularly cranberry, orange, lemon and tomato juices, are very acidic because each glass carries the acid of not just one piece of fruit, but many that have been squeezed to make that juice. Juices are notorious for triggering an IC flare. We suggest that you try pear or apple juice, preferably a “baby” version. Why?? Baby juices use much less acid and are easier for an IC bladder to tolerate.
5 – Multivitamins
The use of multivitamins has become quite controversial in recent years in part because of research which has found that some cancers (i.e. prostate) grow more aggressively in patients who take a lot of vitamins. The fact is that our body can’t use the massive amount of vitamins found in supplements, thus they are quickly excreted out of the body through our urine. Both Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) and Vitamin B6 are notorious. Unless you require multivitamins for another medical condition, we suggest that stop any multivitamins to determine if they are irritating your bladder.
6 – Artificial Sugars
Artificial sugars (Nutrasweet, Aspartame, Sweet N Low, etc.) continue to generate a lot of criticism. In the Summer of 2005, a study was released that found that patients who used artificial sugars, as apposed to regular sugar, had a much higher likelihood of obesity. In the IC bladder, artificial sugars create profound irritation. We strongly suggest that you remove artificial sugars from your diet.
7 – Chocolate
Arrhhh!! We hear your cries of frustration. Yes, we hate to say it, but chocolate can trigger an IC flare. Chocolate is notorious for triggering IBs, allergies and, in an IC bladder, irritation and pain. If you’re desperate for chocolate, try a white chocolate or a very dark, semisweet chocolate. It’s the cheaper milk chocolates that seem to be the most irritating. We’ve also found some amazingly good carob candies that can easily satisfy your sweet tooth, including carob rice crunch bars, carob english toffee, carob honeymoons & more!
This is a very helpful tool to keep track of your bladder’s behavior. Many urinary issues develop slowly, over time. Many women aren’t even aware of how often they are voiding, or how often they make changes to their activities because of fear of leakage, because the problem has been sneaking up on them for so long. Seeing these things “in writing” can be quite instructive and is also very useful for your doctor.
At the beginning of treatment, these diaries are helpful in establishing the nature and severity of the problem. Also, because many times the benefits of treatment may take a long time to become obvious, small changes in bladder diary information can help a woman’s provider know whether or not a set of treatments is working. Keeping this diary for 3 days will allow your physician to better assess your symptoms.