Bladder health is rarely a topic of conversation, but it should be talked about just as much as heart health. And just like your heart, your bladder doesn’t discriminate – both men and women should prioritize taking good care of their bladder.
Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to keep your bladder healthy. Follow this advice to keep your bladder strong.
Drink enough water
Although it may seem that you should limit fluid intake if you are struggling with bladder control, that is not necessarily true. Restricting your water intake can make it hard to develop a routine of urinating on a regular schedule, at least every 3-4 hours. Establishing a regular schedule to urinate may help support urinary tract and bladder health.
The amount of fluid that you need each day varies from person to person. An excellent way to tell whether you are well hydrated is to look at your urine. Urine color ranges from pale yellow to deep amber. Pale yellow urine is a good indication that you’re well-hydrated. If your urine is a darker shade of yellow, it’s important to evaluate your hydration routine to make sure you’re drinking enough. Sometimes, your urine may not be yellow at all, but it’s not always a cause for concern. A lot of things can change the color of your urine, including foods or medications. For example, beets can turn your urine red, certain food dyes can turn your urine green, and excess vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may even turn your urine a neon color.
If you find yourself making several inconvenient trips to the restroom, experts recommend sipping small amounts of water throughout the day rather than drinking large quantities at once. It is also a good idea to stop drinking fluids about two hours before bedtime to prevent getting up multiple times at night to urinate.
Limit caffeine and alcohol
Alcoholic beverages and caffeine can irritate the bladder and have a diuretic effect, meaning they will cause your kidneys to temporarily produce more urine. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, sodas, and even some over-the-counter and prescription medications.
If you drink caffeinated coffee, consider limiting yourself to one cup a day, or experiment to determine the amount you can tolerate. If you drink alcohol, limit your intake to one drink a day.
Exercise your pelvic floor muscles
Your pelvic floor muscles support your bladder, and they lose strength with age, as well as with pregnancy and childbirth. You can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by doing pelvic floor exercises, including Kegel exercises. Contrary to popular belief, Kegel exercises are not just for women. Men can also have issues with these muscles, and Kegel exercises can help support bladder and bowel health.
To find the right muscles:
- Imagine that you are trying to stop urinating mid-stream.
- Contract the muscles and hold for 3 seconds, then rest for 3 seconds.
- Work up to 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions and try to do them each day.
Foods for a Healthy Bladder
Some people have sensitive bladders and find certain foods don’t agree with them. The key is to track which foods seem to irritate your bladder and try to limit or avoid them. Not everyone will have the same irritants. Some common bladder irritants are coffee, alcohol, citrus foods, tomato-based foods, artificial sweeteners, and spicy foods. It may take some trial and error to see what foods are “bladder friendly” for you. Below are some general guidelines.
Focus on Fiber
Eating more fiber-rich foods is an essential part of a diet for a healthy bladder. Getting enough fiber in your diet is crucial for supporting healthy, regular bowel movements, which has been linked to bladder health. Women should aim for at least 25 grams of fiber each day, and men should try to get at least 38 grams each day. A high-fiber diet includes:
- Vegetables. Think green beans, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, potatoes (with the skin – that’s where most of the fiber is!), squash, spinach, collard greens, and more.
- Fruits. Pears, bananas, apples, berries, and melon are all great sources of fiber.
- Legumes. Try swapping meat with a plant-based protein a couple times per week. Beans (lima beans, black beans, chickpeas, and others), peas, and lentils are all nutritious, fiber-rich legumes.
- Whole grains. Try to make at least half your grains whole. Trade white bread for whole wheat bread, regular pasta for whole-wheat pasta, or white rice for brown rice. Sneak in other adventurous whole grains, like buckwheat, barley, oats, and quinoa.
- Nuts and seeds. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are all rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
Include Protein and Healthy Fats
Aim to include lean proteins and healthy fats at each meal or snack, as these are less likely to bother your bladder. Check out these bladder-friendly foods you can include in your diet.
Bladder-friendly snack ideas:
- Hummus and vegetables
- Cheese and whole-grain crackers
- Small handful of nuts or seeds and dried fruit
- Peanut butter or almond butter on slices of apple or banana
- Boiled egg
Bladder-friendly meal ideas:
- Oatmeal with nuts and berries
- Scrambled eggs with spinach and red peppers
- Salad with sunflower seeds, leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and carrots
- Grilled fish or poultry, vegetables, and brown rice
Find more quick, easy, and healthy meal ideas here.