Adopting healthy habits is a common New Year's resolution, but following a few simple dietary rules also can help individuals manage incontinence, according Dianna Malkowski, physician assistant, nutritionist and professional adviser for The CareGiver Partnership.
1. Monitoring fluid intake. When individuals don't drink enough and become dehydrated, their urine can become concentrated with bladder-irritating salts. Conversely, drinking too much at a time increases the amount of urine and can irritate or overwork a bladder. Some find it helpful to measure and record daily fluid intake, along with incontinence episodes, to help them see patterns and help health care providers monitor their condition.
2. Increasing dietary fiber. Eating a high-fiber diet can help avoid constipation. Compacted stool can cause nearby bladder nerves to become overactive, increasing urinary frequency. Insoluble fiber helps move stool and is found in vegetables, wheat bran and other whole grains, nuts, beans and berries. Soluble fiber helps soothe the digestive tract and is therefore often recommended for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Soluble fiber is found in fruits such as apples and oranges, pasta, white bread and potatoes.
3. Avoiding bladder irritants. For those with bladder control problems, it may be helpful to limit alcohol and caffeine. Both are bladder stimulants and diuretics, which can cause a sudden need to urinate. Even teas and carbonated beverages may contribute to bladder problems. Other known irritants are sugar and artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, spicy foods, and acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus.