Lifestyle, Fluids And Diet

There are some general lifestyle changes which may help to alleviate your symptoms of bladder conditions such as overactive bladder, stress incontinence, Urethritis, Nocturia, and many more.

Diet changes your bladder will love

Try and eat a balanced diet that is not too high in fat and includes plenty of fibre. Aim for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Choose whole grain varieties of bread, pasta and rice, rather than white versions.

Being overweight can also make your bladder problems worse. Extra weight may put pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, which can become weak and lead to incontinence. 

Relieving symptoms of constipation can help your bladder

During constipation, the bowel does not empty properly, which causes the bowel to swell and push down on your bladder, and sometimes this will cause your bladder problem to worsen. So to avoid constipation, it is important to follow a healthy diet.

A good diet will not only benefit your bladder but also your health in general. For further information and advice on food and diet, please visit the NHS Choices website.

Regular exercises for bladder problems

As well as following a healthy diet, you should try to take some form of regular exercise. 

If you have stress incontinence, it may be advisable to avoid high-impact exercises such as running and anything involving jumping, which can increase abdominal pressure and cause leaks. Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming may cause you fewer problems.

Lifestyle changes to relieve pressure on your bladder

If you are a smoker, try to give up smoking. A persistent smoker’s cough can make your bladder problems worse.  Visit your GP for information and advice about giving up.

Healthy fluid intake to improve bladder condition

As you pay attention to what you drink, you will begin to notice which drinks cause or worsen your bladder problems, and you can begin removing those drinks from your diet as soon as possible. Here are our top recommendations for a healthy fluid intake. 

  • Try to drink at least 1.5-2 litres (at least 6-8 glasses) of fluid each day. Remember that many foods already contain plenty of water in them, so if you currently drink less than this, try and increase the amount you drink gradually.
  • Drink plain water. Or you can drink fruit juice, some fruit or herbal teas and cordials. 
  • Limit alcoholic drinks. Alcoholic drinks, especially shorts, can sometimes irritate the bladder.
  • Drink small quantities at any one time, regularly throughout the day. Increasing the amount that you drink may sound counterproductive. Indeed, in the short term, it may well seem to make your problems worse, but this will only be temporary. In the longer term, your bladder will learn to hold more urine, will become less sensitive and irritable, and will be less likely to harbour infections.
  • Cut out fizzy drinks and fruit teas. Some people find that fizzy drinks, some fruit teas containing hibiscus and drinks that contain caffeine, especially those Lite or Diet types with artificial sweeteners like Aspartame or Saccharine, can make your problems worse. 

Cranberry juice to help combat urine infections

Drinking 1 or 2 glasses (250 to 600ml) of cranberry juice every day may help people who often get urine infections. Cranberry juice helps to flush the infection out of your system because it has a bacteriostatic effect. This prevents bacteria from sticking to the lining of your bladder and breeding. However, be careful when shopping for cranberry products as many are very dilute and so you would have to drink a lot to get the benefit. Look out for pure cranberry juices with a cranberry content of 20 to 25%.

People who are taking Warfarin tablets or any other anticoagulant should avoid cranberries and cranberry juice.

If you have a urine infection, it’s important to visit your doctor, as there is limited research to confirm the effectiveness of cranberry juice. 

Relief of painful bladder / interstitial cystitis (PB/IC)

If you have the condition painful bladder/ interstitial cystitis (PB/IC), avoid drinking cranberry juice as this will make the symptoms worse as the bladder is inflamed without a bacterial infection present. In fact, any sharp, acidic food or drink makes the symptoms worse in this condition, it’s a really good indicator of the difference between a bacterial infection such as UTI and an IC case.

Keeping your urine on the slightly acidic side is another good way of discouraging infections because, generally, bugs prefer alkaline environments. You may have noticed when you get a urine infection that your urine smells of ammonia, which is a strong alkali. 

Taking Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), in divided doses (totalling not more than 1000mg per day), works well. Drinking Barley Water will also tend to keep your urine more acidic. It may also help to keep your catheter free of encrustation if you wear a permanent indwelling one.

Anyone with diabetes or taking Warfarin medication should check with their doctor or healthcare professional first to check if it is OK to drink any of these drinks. The acid in some fruit juices can make problems worse for some people, so please check with your GP or a medical professional.

Why water is essential for bladder health

It is important to drink enough fluid such as water each day to keep the bladder healthy. The bladder will work at its best when you drink the right amount of fluid. When you are not drinking enough, the bladder gets used to holding smaller amounts of urine and can become sensitive, especially if your urine becomes more concentrated, as then it is more likely to irritate your bladder.