Yes, I said “hold the coffee and red wine.” Yes, I said it during a pandemic, while we’re all grasping for normalcy and savoring moments of indulgence to stay sane and calm. But, before you click away and pour yourself another cup of Joe, here’s a spoiler: here at Lily Bird we believe in all things in moderation, even moderation. In other words, we won’t ever tell you to give up coffee, cold turkey, until the end of time. That’d just be cruel.
But – if you’re one of the nearly half of women in midlife who experience bladder leaks (aka incontinence), you may want to take a second look at the source of that magical morning jolt (or that evening night cap) as well as a few other things on your plate or in your pantry. (And while you’re at it you may want to check out Lily Bird too. We like to fight taboos about the female body, give out 10-product trials for only $1.99, and help our customers skip the store by delivering discreetly to their homes.)
Before we dive in, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that there are a lot of possible bladder irritants. The good news is that I’ve never met a bladder whose leaks are made worse by all of these things! The trick is to figure out what one or two things irritate you most (and I don’t mean spouses or kids). Here are a few possibilities…
Coffee and Soda Are Double Whammies
Many bladders are not fans of the caffeine found in coffee, soda, and tea, even if your eyelids and foggy brain may disagree early on a Monday morning. Anything acidic or carbonated can bring on bladder leaks too, which makes coffee and soda particularly fraught.
Coffee is also a diuretic and may have you frequently sprinting to the bathroom. In other words: more opportunities for bladder leaks.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Acidic and Spicy Foods
What do spicy foods and acidic foods have in common? These talented buggers can irritate both your digestive tract and your bladder. A lot of us know all too well that acidic foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, pineapple, and chocolate make us reach for antacids. And for some of us, spicy foods set our mouths on fire.
When your body digests these foods, some of the compounds end up in your urine and so the same little molecules that burn in one place (your mouth) can irritate another (your bladder). And that can mean more bladder leaks. So beware that, if spices make your taste buds dance, your bladder may feel similarly a few hours later.
Bottoms Up – Maybe
Whether you like your margarita blended or on the rocks, your bladder may dislike it either way. Alcoholic drinks are another common trigger for bladder leaks.
It doesn’t help that alcohol slows things down and makes everything, including your pelvic floor, less coordinated.
Watch Out for Processed Foods
Cooking for yourself is great to minimize bladder leaks. Why? Most processed food has a lot of salt, which can dehydrate you, and more concentrated urine can make bladder leaks worse.
Artificial flavorings in processed foods as well as the nitrates in aged, canned, cured, or smoked meats and fish can wreak havoc on the bladder too. To skip the bladder leaks, try leaving the microwave meals in the frozen aisle and instead grab some fresh veggies, grains, and meats.
A (Small) Spoonful of Sugar
You may choose Diet Coke over a regular one to avoid the sugar. But guess what? A lot of bladders can’t tell the difference. And some bladders even leak more with artificial sweeteners than with the real deal. Sadly, sugar in all forms is another cause of bladder leaks for a lot of us.
Get Lots of Water & Fiber
The best way to keep your bladder healthy and to avoid bladder leaks is to eat lots of high fiber grains, legumes, and veggies. And to drink plenty of water.
Water and fiber help with constipation which can make bladder leaks worse, especially when chronic. How? The load in your intestines puts pressure on your pelvic floor and makes it harder for your pelvic floor to stay tight enough to keep bladder leaks in.
Plus, over time, downward pressure on your pelvic floor can weaken it which makes it harder to hold in leaks if you sneeze, cough, or laugh, too.
Keep a Bladder Diary
Everyone’s bladder is different. Some of us may have bladder leaks triggered by artificial sweeteners. Others may find that avocados, bananas, and dairy products are problematic (that’s the arylalkylamines in those foods, which are proteins).
But how do you know? Keep a bladder diary. Tracking everything you eat and drink for a few days may reveal which foods and drinks are dueling with your bladder and making your leaks worse.
A Few Last Words of Wisdom
There are a lot of delicious foods and drinks mentioned here. But we’re not telling you to give everything up. Far from it. Everything in moderation, even moderation! Just with knowing your triggers, you’ll be the boss of your bladder instead of the opposite.
And if you need a little back up support so you can enjoy that glass of red wine, Lily Bird has you covered. Just as some of us prefer a full-bodied Pinot Noir to a peppery Zinfandel, we all have different preferences for bladder leak products too. That’s why, at Lily Bird, we’re big believers in starting with a 10-product, 10-day trial for only $1.99. We’d love to have you give it a shot.
Ready to tell your bladder who’s boss? Get pads and underwear for leaky laughs and dribble dilemmas delivered straight to your door from Lily Bird. Try 10 products today for $1.99.