Here at The Optimist Daily, we talk a lot about what we should eat to support gut health and heart health, but that doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention to what works best for our other essential organs.
This time, we’re discussing urologist James Kelley, DO’s recommended foods for bladder health. “Bladder irritation can have a range of symptoms—including urinary pain or burning to experiencing pain in the entire pelvis area—and can stem from many different reasons, including urinary tract infections to more serious health issues, like bladder cancer,” he says.
For individuals who suffer from regular bladder irritation, it’s helpful to know which foods and drinks will help you address that, but it’s also good to know which foods and drinks are working against you. “Caffeine, alcohol, acidic foods, and spicy foods are notorious for being irritating to the bladder,” Dr. Kelley says. Instead, here are some tasty options that will boost your bladder health.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! We are big on hydration at The Optimist Daily, so if you’re a seasoned reader, then you probably knew this was coming. “If you experience bladder irritation on a regular basis, it’s especially important to make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day,” Dr. Kelley advises.
Urinary infections can be the result of bacteria staying in your urinary tract for too long, so drinking water will help flush any bacteria out and prevent it from overstaying its welcome. Dr. Kelley suggests trying to drink around 11.5 cups a day. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, you’re in luck, because we’ve written an article about which ingredients you can add to water to make it an even more hydrating drink!
Fruits and veggies with high water content
We don’t have to spend the whole day guzzling water—we can get extra hydration from eating foods that have high water content. “Any way people can get extra water in their body is usually helpful,” Dr. Kelley says. Generally, fruits and veggies tend to be the type of foods that are highest in water, however, be careful of highly acidic varieties. “Fruits that are acidic can actually irritate the bladder, so it’s best to choose fruits and vegetables with a high water content that aren’t acidic,” he explains. For instance, opt for coconut, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, peaches, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and collard greens.
Luckily, what’s good for gut health is also good for your bladder. In the same way that water helps flush out bacteria from our urinary tracts, fibrous foods such as whole grains, potatoes, and legumes help flush out our digestive tract from any unwanted lingering bacteria.
Cranberries and cranberry juice
If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI), then chances are someone has suggested that you drink cranberry juice. “Historically, [doctors] thought that cranberry juice being good for urinary health was an old wives’ tale, but scientific research has actually shown the connection to be strong,” says Dr. Kelley.
That’s because cranberries contain an antioxidant called proanthocyanidins (PACs for short) that makes it more difficult for bacteria to stick to the wall of the urinary tract. Just be careful not to pick cranberry juice that’s sweetened with lots of sugar, or else you’ll be doing your body more harm than good.
Remember, if you continue to experience bladder pain and irritation even after making intentional changes to your diet, it’s crucial to pay your general health practitioner a visit.