Updated 09 October 2017

Eat right to improve your overall bladder control

SPONSORED: A bladder-friendly diet can go a long way towards reducing the impact of incontinence on your quality of life.


Urinary incontinence may feel like an insurmountable problem, but it can be well-managed if you’re armed with the right knowledge.

What most people don’t know is that your diet can have an impact on your bladder – and it's not difficult to make sure you are eating a bladder-friendly diet.

For starters, you need to eat a diet that supports a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight puts a strain on the muscles of the pelvic floor, making weight one of the most modifiable risk factors for incontinence.

Secondly, don’t try and cut your fluid intake as this is actually counterproductive. When you don’t drink enough, your urine becomes concentrated, and highly concentrated urine can irritate the bladder surface, causing more frequent trips to the bathroom. It also encourages the growth of bacteria, which could result in a bladder infection – and more incontinence.

The trick to balancing your fluid intake is to keep an eye on your urine. It should be concentrated in the morning when you wake up, but thereafter it should be a pale straw colour. If it’s lighter, you’re drinking too much. If it’s darker, you need to up your fluid intake.

There are some foods that medical experts know to be bladder irritants, so if you have an incontinence problem, these are the foods you need to avoid:

• Alcohol

• Caffeine, found in tea, coffee, chocolate, soft drinks and cough medicine

• Dairy

• Sugar, sweeteners, corn syrup, honey 

• Citrus fruits and juice

• Tomato-based foods

• Spicy foods 

It’s easier than you think to make these changes. You just need to be aware of what the irritants are and make slightly different choices at home, as well as when you’re eating out.

Bladder–Friendly Dietary Substitutes:

Bladder-friendly eating out:

It can be difficult to eat healthily when you eat out – often our eating is much more unconscious because we’re focused on the people we’re with and on having a good time. Try to follow these suggestions:

• Eat and drink as healthily as possible for your condition

• Drink lots of water 

• Don’t be afraid to leave some food on your plate

• Research local restaurants for healthier food items on the menu

Also, don’t be afraid to ask to have food prepared the way you like it – within reason, of course. You can ask for a cheesy sauce to be left off your vegetables, for example. And most menus will have something light and healthy – the key is to focus on dishes that are packed full of fresh vegetables and salads and contain lean proteins.

Give preference to fruit if available. But most importantly, enjoy your food – people who eat mindfully, eat less and tend to make healthier choices.

For advice on bladder weakness products, please call us on 087 359 1079. Visit TENA for more information on our product range. You can also buy TENA products online at TENA Shop

Read more: 
Compassion fatigue and what to do about it
Coital incontinence: the ‘oops’ women are too afraid to talk about



Ask the Expert

Incontinence Expert

Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules