Dietary Changes

While there is no formal “urinary incontinence diet,” there are foods and beverages that may worsen incontinence symptoms. However, the same foods and beverages that worsen symptoms in one patient may have little to no impact on another person. It is important to personalize this dietary approach by using an elimination technique – stop consuming the foods and beverages one suspects may be worsening symptoms and reintroduce them one-by-one to determine if a patient may tolerate small amounts.

The most common foods and beverages that worsen incontinence symptoms are:

  • Caffeinated beverages – Caffeine stimulates the bladder and also acts as a diuretic. Eliminating the common culprits like coffee (even decaf), soft drinks, many teas and chocolate may help minimize symptoms.
  • Alcoholic beverages – Alcohol interferes with the neurological signals from the brain to the bladder, lessening one’s ability to control the urge to void. In addition, alcohol can act as a diuretic so it causes dehydration. Cutting back or even eliminating alcohol entirely from one’s diet may also minimize incontinence symptoms.
  • Carbonated beverages – Even non-caffeinated carbonated beverages may irritate a sensitive bladder.
  • Spicy foods – Similar to caffeine, spicy foods can be an irritant to the lining of the bladder thereby aggravating symptoms of urinary incontinence. Spicy foods can include chili peppers, horseradish or even heavily spiced foods so patients need to use trial and error to identify specific irritants to their symptoms.
  • Acidic foods – Citrus foods and beverages such as orange juice and cranberry juice may also irritate the bladder. While cranberry juice has a reputation for helping to clear up bladder infections, it does not help with overactive bladder and urge incontinence.