The best foods for bladder health – and what to avoid

If you’re dealing with an overactive bladder, we have some great advice from the experts at Jude on how making changes to your diet might really help.

Getting caught short, having to get up in the night to pee or avoiding long car journeys. An overactive bladder can have a huge impact on your life and leave you feeling isolated.

But did you know that what you eat can make a big difference to your bladder health? And, for example, if you drink even more than one cup of coffee a day it could be making things worse?

Bladder-care brand Jude is here to help with the best advice on the foods that can tame an overactive bladder and help give you back your freedom.

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Written in partnership with Jude.

A smiling woman in a blue dress, laughing as she lifts a lid on a pan in a kitchenCredit: Shutterstsock / oneinchpunch

More than five million people in the UK have an Overactive Bladder (OAB) – and it’s not down to age alone. A variety of medical reasons can cause the bladder muscle to contract involuntarily, which creates that urgent sensation of needing to go to the toilet.

Lucy Jones, consultant dietitian and Jude Brand Advocate, has the best advice on what to eat to improve your bladder health.

Jones says: “Not many people think about the role that their diet and nutrition has in their bladder and pelvic health, but it can make a big difference.”

Jude Bladder Strength Supplements

Jude’s formula is so effective that in one clinical trial, 9.2 out of 10 participants said taking Jude’s formula had improved their quality of life – 66% reported fewer daily leaks and 70% fewer night-time bathroom visits.

Tried and approved by over 20,000 individuals in the UK, Jude’s Bladder Strength Supplements were created in collaboration with urogynaecologists and the esteemed professor Leena Pradhan-Nabzdyk, PhD, MBA, from Harvard Medical School.

6 foods to boost your bladder

The best foods to tame an overactive bladder

“The good thing is that the diet that’s right for your bladder health is also the one that’s best for your heart and your overall length and happiness in life,” she says.

She suggests a Mediterranean-style diet is your friend, making sure that you include protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and high fibre in your diet, while also getting the balance of good fats right.

In particular, adding the following into your diet can really improve your bladder health:

1. Cranberries

Some studies suggest that cranberries may help prevent urinary tract infections, by preventing bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. Consider incorporating unsweetened cranberry juice or whole cranberries into your diet.

2. Probiotics

Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut contain beneficial bacteria that can support gut health, potentially reducing the risk of urinary tract infections.

3. Fibre-rich foods

Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables high in fibre can help regulate bowel movements, reducing the risk of constipation, which can impact bladder health. An overly full bowel, caused by constipation, can also increase pressure on the pelvic floor and bladder.

4. Bananas

These are a good source of potassium, which can help regulate fluid balance in the body and support overall kidney function. They’re also a good source of fibre. Try adding them on top of your wholegrain cereal or to smoothies.

5. Berries

Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are rich in antioxidants and can provide additional support to urinary tract health.

6. Lean proteins

Incorporate lean proteins like chicken, turkey and tofu into your diet. Fish is also a great source of protein and the oily kinds, such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel, also deliver healthy omega-3 fats and vitamin D. Some studies have shown a lack of vitamin D can increase the risk of an overactive bladder and urinary incontinence.

Why water soothes an overactive bladder

Don’t get dehydrated

Staying well-hydrated is crucial for overall bladder health. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help flush out toxins and prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Jones says it’s all about drinking enough to prevent dehydration but also crucially, drinking at the right time of day to prevent having to empty the bladder during the night.

“It’s important to make sure that we’re having the right amount of fluids spread evenly through the day and tailing off towards the end of the day,” she says. 

“We also don’t want to restrict our fluids and end up dehydrated – and that’s because very concentrated urine can actually irritate the bladder lining.”

How much should you drink daily?

The amount of water you need each day can be different for everyone and is influenced by various factors, such as your age, lifestyle, body size, and climate. 

The Eatwell Guide recommends that people should aim to drink six to eight cups or glasses of fluid a day. Water, lower-fat milk and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee, all count towards this.

Pumpkin seeds – the superfood for the bladder

Jude has unlocked the amazing health benefits of pumpkin seeds

Jones says that these tiny seeds are tiny treats for your bladder.

“Pumpkin seeds are packed full of essential nutrients, things like potassium, magnesium and zinc and they’re also really high in antioxidants,” she says.

“Pumpkin seeds have been a traditional herbal remedy for many many years when it comes to bladder and urinary symptoms. And now there’s increasing scientific research backing up their effectiveness.”

Jude’s award-winning Bladder Strength Supplements are packed with pumpkin seeds. In fact one daily dose contains the nutrient equivalent of 71 of them, along with soy phytoestrogen, which studies have found can help improve sleep. It’s a winning combination and comes backed with a 90-day money back guarantee.

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Foods to stay clear of with a sensitive bladder

Foods that can make your bladder problems worse

Just as there are foods that can improve your bladder health, there are also some culprits that can make it worse.

1. Coffee

Caffeine can be irritating to the bladder and may exacerbate bladder-related issues. Try to limit intake of coffee, tea, chocolate, and caffeinated fizzy drinks.

A study found that nearly 50 per cent of people over 60 who drink more than a cup of coffee each day (300mg) suffer from overactive bladder symptoms. This percentage was significantly higher when compared to people who consume less caffeine.

2. Spicy foods

Spicy foods, particularly those containing chili peppers, can irritate the bladder and worsen symptoms for anyone with bladder conditions.

3. Acidic fruits and vegetables

Citrus fruits and their juices are acidic and can irritate the bladder, while tomatoes, pineapple, oranges and onions can increase urine acidity, which also irritates the bladder lining. If you’re sensitive, it’s worth steering clear of these.

4. Alcohol

Alcohol is not a friend of an overactive bladder. It can potentially irritate the lining of your bladder, leading to inflammation and heightened sensitivity in your urinary tract, ultimately resulting in a sense of urgency. Certain alcoholic beverages also can be more acidic, which can further contribute to bladder irritation.

Additionally, alcohol has the potential to dehydrate you and make your urine more concentrated, which in turn can irritate the lining of your bladder.

5. Highly-processed foods

Processed foods often contain additives and preservatives that may not be beneficial for bladder health. Aim for whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.

Keep a food diary

Monitor food and symptoms

Not sure which foods might irritate your bladder? Since everyone reacts differently to various foods, Jones recommends keeping a food and symptom diary.

“You can start to piece together if there’s certain things that you eat regularly and the impact on your symptoms,” she says.

Remember, everyone’s responses to foods can vary, and it’s essential to pay attention to your body’s signals. If you have specific concerns about bladder health or existing medical conditions, contact your doctor for advice.

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For optimal results, it is recommended to take the supplements for a minimum of 12 weeks. Purchasing a 12-week supply is a cost-effective approach to achieve this.

Use code SAGA20 at checkout for the 20% discount or click the button below to buy direct from the Jude website – 20% will automatically be deducted when you go to pay.

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Written by an Exceptional journalist, in partnership with Jude. The content was written in response to a brief and fact-checked by our commercial partner.

Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her

Updated:

Phillipa Cherryson is a senior digital editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV. In her spare time she loves the outdoors and is a trainee mountain leader and Ordnance Survey Champion.

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