Try These 3 Dietary Rules to Help Manage Incontinence

by Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant & Nutritionist

When making New Year’s resolutions, try these three simple dietary rules. They may not only improve your overall health, but can also help you manage incontinence.

Incontinence is not a disease; it can be a symptom of daily habits, an underlying medical condition or a physical problem. Urinary incontinence is often treatable, and is always manageable. Along with maintaining a healthy weight, a change in eating and drinking habits can help bring relief.

1. Monitor fluid intake
An important first step is to monitor the liquids you consume. If you don’t drink enough and become dehydrated, your urine can become concentrated with bladder-irritating salts. If you drink too much at a time, the increased amount of urine can irritate or overwork your bladder.

Because fluid intake can be perceived inaccurately, it may be helpful to measure and record daily fluid intake, along with incontinence episodes. The benefits are twofold: You may notice patterns, and it may help your health care provider monitor your condition.

2. Increase dietary fiber
Eat a high-fiber diet to help avoid constipation. Compacted stool can cause nearby bladder nerves to become overactive, increasing urinary frequency. Insoluble fiber helps move your stool and is found in vegetables, wheat bran and other whole grains, nuts, beans and berries. Soluble fiber helps soothe the digestive tract and is therefore often recommended for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Soluble fiber is found in fruits such as apples and oranges, pasta, white bread and potatoes.

Men over the age of 50 should aim for about 30 grams of fiber per day; women over 50 should get about 21, according to the Institute of Medicine. A bowl of oatmeal and a banana, along with a serving of black beans later in the day, is enough to meet a woman’s requirement. Add a serving of raspberries, and you’ve reached 30 grams of fiber for the day.

If you or a loved one has special dietary needs, there are products that can help meet daily nutrition requirements in forms that are easy to swallow and digest.

3. Avoid bladder irritants
If you experience bladder control problems, it may be helpful to avoid alcohol and caffeine. Both are bladder stimulants and diuretics, which can cause a sudden need to urinate. Even teas and carbonated beverages may contribute to bladder problems. Other known irritants to watch for are sugar and artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, spicy foods, and acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus.

Dianna Malkowski is a Board Certified Physician Assistant and Mayo Clinic trained nutritionist specializing in diabetes, cancer, wound healing, therapeutic diets and nutrition support. She serves on the board of professional advisors for The CareGiver Partnership and enjoys working with patients and caregivers alike. Ask Dianna a question, or for one-on-one help about incontinence products, call 1-800-985-1353 M-F 9-4 CST.


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