Your bladder plays a vital role in maintaining the health of not only your urinary system but also the rest of your body.
Thankfully, there are many easy changes you can make to both your diet and lifestyle to improve your bladder health.
In this article, we’ll go over our top ten tips for promoting a healthy bladder naturally.
Why is bladder health important?
The bladder is part of the urinary system which filters and eliminates waste from the body. If there is a problem in any part of your urinary system, including the bladder, a series of health problems could occur.
What are some common bladder problems?
There are a number of common bladder problems that you may experience. While people of all ages experience UTIs, your chances of developing urinary incontinence, urinary retention, and bladder cancer increase significantly with age.
Common bladder problems:
- Urinary tract infection (UTI): an infection in the urinary tract. UTIs are experienced by over 3 million Americans every year.
- Urinary incontinence: loss of bladder control causing involuntary urine leaks.
- Urinary retention: straining to urinate or inability to fully empty the bladder.
- Overactive bladder (OAB): sudden and strong urge to urinate.
- Bladder cancer: cancer that starts in the bladder.
What are the signs of an unhealthy bladder?
There are many indications that your bladder may be unhealthy. If you are experiencing any of the signs listed below, seek help from a medical professional.
Signs of an unhealthy bladder:
- Urine leaks: urine leaks involuntarily from the body.
- Frequent urge to urinate: the need to urinate more than about 8 times per day.
- Nocturia: frequent urination at night.
- Sudden urge to urinate: urgent and sudden need to urinate.
- Pain from urination: pain or discomfort before, during, or after urination.
- Pain or difficulty urinating: experiencing pain or difficulty trying to empty the bladder.
- Abnormal urine: urine that is foul-smelling, bloody, or cloudy.
It’s important to note that although the tips listed below can help promote a healthy bladder and reduce your risk of developing bladder problems, they cannot cure any bladder problems you may already be experiencing.
While in some cases, diet or lifestyle changes may alleviate your symptoms, bladder problems must ultimately be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional.
Top 10 tips for a healthy bladder
There are a variety of changes you can make to your lifestyle and diet right now to promote a healthy bladder.
1. Manage your fluid intake
It’s important to stay hydrated because water helps flush out bacteria and toxins from the body. That being said, try to avoid drinking too much at one time. Doing so can overwhelm the bladder.
Instead, try drinking small amounts of water throughout the day and remember that fluids not only come from what you drink but also what you eat. Foods like soup and vegetables with high water content also increase your urine production. Be aware of how what you eat and drink affects how much urine your body produces.
Additionally, if you find yourself needing to use the restroom at night, try to avoid drinking water a couple of hours before bed.
2. Maintain a healthy diet
Maintaining a healthy diet is important for both your bladder and overall health. It’s important to be aware of how different foods affect your body and adjust accordingly.
Diet tips for a healthy bladder:
- Eat enough fiber: constipation can create pressure on your bladder, increasing your urge to urinate. Eating enough fiber promotes regular bowel movements that prevent constipation. Foods such as beans, lentils, nuts, oats, barley, bran, and whole grains are high in fiber.
- Eat your fruits and vegetables: these are high in vitamins and minerals that promote proper bodily functions. Some fruits such as cranberry, have even been thought to prevent UTIs. Other fruits such as pears, bananas, apples, grapes, coconut, watermelon, strawberries, and blackberries are also known to be good for the bladder. Additionally, vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers, kale carrots, celery, lettuce, and peppers are good for the bladder.
- Eat enough protein: helps maintain bladder muscle health and regulate hormones. Foods such as meat, tofu, chicken, eggs, legumes, peanut butter, fish, are high in protein.
- Get your probiotics: promote good bacterial growth and prevent harmful bacteria from growing in the urinary tract. Foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, kimchi, are natural sources of probiotics. Probiotic supplements are also available for those who need it.
- Avoid sugar: while natural sugars are okay in moderation, too much sugar promotes bacterial growth in the urinary tract that leads to bacterial infections. If you are prone to UTIs, try to limit the amount of added sugar in your diet.
3. Avoid bladder irritants
There are a variety of foods that are known to irritate the bladder. Although everyone reacts differently to food, below we’ve gathered a list of common bladder irritants.
Common bladder irritants:
- Spicy foods
- Citrus and other acidic fruits
- Tomato-based foods
- Raw onion
If you think something you’re eating is irritating your bladder, consider eliminating the above foods from your diet.
If your symptoms lessen after about a week, gradually add the foods back into your diet one by one and note which foods trigger symptoms.
Some people may need to eliminate a particular food from their diet altogether, while others are able to simply reduce the amount they consume to alleviate symptoms.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Excess weight puts added pressure on the bladder and can increase your urge to urinate. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and physical activity can help improve your bladder health naturally.
5. Strengthen your pelvic floor
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support your bladder and controls the elimination of urine from the body. Strengthening your pelvic floor can help prevent stress incontinence, in which urine leaks occur due to sneezing, coughing, laughing, exercising, and other activities that apply pressure to the bladder.
Ways to strengthen your pelvic floor:
- Pelvic floor exercises (kegel exercises): involve contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles in regular intervals to strengthen your pelvic floor.
- Vaginal weights: women also have the option of inserting cone-shaped weights into their vagina. After doing so, you must contract your pelvic floor muscles to prevent the weight from falling out. Over time, you can increase the weight of the cone to further increase the strength of your pelvic floor.
6. Manage your medications
There are many medications that affect the function of the bladder or increase urine production. If you think the medication you are taking is causing bladder problems, talk to your doctor to see if you can switch to a medication with fewer side effects.
Common medications that affect the bladder:
- Diuretics: can increase urine production, causing frequent urination.
- High blood pressure medication: can increase urine production and relax the bladder, causing urine leaks.
- Antidepressants: can prevent the bladder from fully contracting or decrease awareness of the need to urinate, causing urine leaks.
- Narcotics: can relax the bladder, causing urinary retention.
- Antihistamines: can relax the bladder, causing urinary retention.
- Muscle relaxants and sedatives: can relax bladder muscles, causing urine leaks.
- Sleeping pills: can decrease awareness of the need to urinate, causing urine leaks.
7. Practice healthy restroom habits
When and how you use the restroom has a big influence on the health of your bladder. Try adopting the following habits to promote a healthy bladder.
Healthy restroom habits:
- Use the bathroom regularly: it is recommended that you use the restroom every 3 to 4 hours. Try and avoid using the restroom too frequently, but also avoid not using the bathroom frequently enough. If you find yourself using the restroom too often, consider bladder training in which you gradually increase the amount of time between trips to the restroom. Even starting with an additional five minutes can gradually build to using the restroom every 3 or 4 hours.
- Avoid going “just in case”: if you don’t need to use the restroom, don’t go “just in case”. Doing so repeatedly sends signals to your body that you need to urinate when your bladder isn’t completely full.
- Fully empty the bladder: it’s important to fully empty your bladder each time you use the restroom. Urine that is left in the bladder increases your risk of bladder infections.
- Relax: when using the restroom, be in a relaxed position. This will make it easier for your body to empty the bladder naturally. You shouldn’t have to strain to urinate.
- Wipe from front to back: wiping from back to front after urinating is important to avoid bacteria from getting into the urethra.
8. Stop smoking
In addition to being bad for your overall health, tobacco significantly increases your risk of bladder cancer.
9. Urinate after sex
Urinating shortly after having sex helps flush out unwanted bacteria from the urethra, decreasing your risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI).
10. Wear breathable clothing
Tight-fitting underwear and clothing can trap moisture around the urethra, promoting bacterial growth. Opt for cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes to allow airflow and keep the urethra dry.
Keeping your bladder healthy is beneficial for both gaining greater control of your bladder now and preventing bladder problems from arising in the future. Try incorporating some of the tips listed above into your everyday life, and see how your health improves.
Getting the help you need
For some, lifestyle changes alone won’t give you full control over your bladder. If that is the case, there are many additional resources available to you.
Better Health carries a wide selection of both urology products and incontinence products to help you manage your bladder. Additionally, we’re always updating our blog with more content to better support you.