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What to eat and drink for bladder and kidney health

The food and drink you consume has a major role in your overall health, so it’s important to monitor your consumption. Here’s some guidance on the dos and don’ts of food and drink, to help make sure that your bladder and kidneys are working at their best.

Why is bladder and kidney health so important?

The bladder and kidneys work closely together to keep you healthy. One important job of the kidneys is to filter your blood by removing waste and adjusting salt, water and mineral levels. The healthy blood goes back into the body and the waste gets turned into urine, which travels to the bladder before being released. It’s vital to keep these important organs healthy, so that the body can get rid of waste safely. But how do you keep them healthy? 

Make sure you’re always hydrated

You need to make sure that you drink enough fluid to stay healthy. The best drink for kidneys and bladder health is water. About 60% of your body is made up of water, so it’s no surprise that you need to make sure you’re constantly renewing its supply. If you’re not drinking enough water, or if you lose a lot of fluid, dehydration can cause kidney stones. Some causes of dehydration include vigorous exercise, exposure to heat, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, burns or skin infections, fever, and diabetes with high blood sugar levels. If you are experiencing any of these, it will be important to make sure you’re staying hydrated.

How much water does your body need?

Naturally, your body will do its job of becoming thirsty when you’re in need of water to save you from dehydration. But you can also see if you’re drinking enough fluid by examining the colour of your urine. If it’s light yellow in colour that’s a sign that you’re drinking enough water, but if it’s darker, it might be a sign of dehydration. Other signs of dehydration can include fatigue due to low blood pressure, headaches, dry mouth and changes in skin elasticity. You should be drinking around 6 to 8 glasses of water daily, to make sure you’re staying hydrated. When you’re in a hotter climate, or if you’re exercising, you will need to drink more water than usual because of the fluid lost through sweat. But don’t overdo it. Drinking too much water isn’t good for you either because it can cause urgency and make you rush to the toilet more often! 

Drinking water for urinary incontinence

If you’re experiencing urinary incontinence, you might think that you need to drink less than normal, but that’s actually counter-productive. Limiting the amount of fluid you drink makes the urine more concentrated which can irritate the bladder lining and cause urgency. Not drinking enough water can also cause constipation, which can affect bladder control. 

Which drinks should you avoid?

While it’s important to drink plenty of fluids, there are some drinks that are bad for bladder and kidney health. Alcohol affects the kidneys’ ability to maintain the fluid balance in the body and puts the kidneys under strain, so alcohol and kidneys aren’t a good match if you’re drinking too much. Having a couple of alcoholic drinks every now and then usually has no serious effects. Drinks that irritate the bladder include caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks, which can cause frequent and urgent need for urination. Try to replace your normal cup of coffee with some decaffeinated coffee, and if you’re more of a tea drinker, choose a herbal or fruit tea instead of caffeinated black and green tea. Soda drinks are generally not the healthiest option because they are quite acidic and can be packed with artificial sugar, so perhaps try a sparkling water if you’d like a fizzy drink.  

Which foods should you eat?

It’s important to have a balanced diet to ensure that the bladder and kidneys are getting all the nutrients they need. Regular bowel movements are also important, because if your bowels are very full, they can put pressure on the bladder and cause urgency. Also, the pelvic floor muscles can be weakened by straining from constipation, which can cause stress incontinence. For a healthy bowel, eat foods that are high in fibre, which adds bulk and makes your stools soft and easier to pass.     
 
Being overweight can increase the risk for many health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure, which are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease. People who are obese are at greater risk of developing kidney stones than those who maintain a healthy weight. Obesity and diabetes are also known risk factors for incontinence. Try to maintain a healthy weight by being active, eating small portions regularly, and choosing healthy foods that provide good nutrition, such as fruits, vegetables and berries.   

Which foods should you avoid?

At the moment, there are no known foods that irritate the bladder, but you should avoid a low-fiber or high-fat diet. In general, you should try to maintain a healthy relationship with food to manage your weight, helping your bladder and kidneys perform at their best. 
 
Eating too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure, which is linked to cardiovascular diseases, kidney problems and fluid retention. As the kidneys exert themselves to regulate the high levels of salt, more fluid gets retained in the body, which can cause swelling and discomfort. 
 
 
To keep your bladder and kidneys healthy, remember to drink enough water, enjoy a balanced diet and manage a healthy weight. If you’re suffering from any problems with your kidneys or bladder, remember that you’re not alone and it is very common. If you need more support, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor.