Food and Nutrition

These Are the Best Foods and Drinks To Ease Bladder Irritation, According to a Urologist

Emily Laurence

Photo: Stocksy/Nuria Segui
Chances are that you can rattle off at least a short list of foods that are good for your heart (like blueberries and nuts) and your gut (probiotic foods FTW), but what about foods for bladder health? Yep, there are science-backed ones to turn to for that, too.

When eating (and drinking) with bladder health in mind, urologist James Kelley, DO, says it's helpful to know what causes bladder irritation in the first place. "Bladder irritation can have a range of symptoms—including urinary pain or burning to experiencing pain in the entire pelvis area—and can stem from many different reasons, including urinary tract infections to more serious health issues, like bladder cancer," he says. This is why it's always a good idea to schedule an appointment with a doctor, who can help you get to the bottom of what's causing your urinary pain or irritation.

Especially if bladder irritation is something you experience on a regular basis, it can be helpful to know what foods and drinks can help support overall bladder health. That's where this dietary advice from Dr. Kelley can come in handy. But before we get into the good stuff, he says it's helpful to know what foods and drinks could potentially be working against you. "Caffeine, alcohol, acidic foods, and spicy foods are notorious for being irritating to the bladder," he says. So if you're crafting your meals with bladder health in mind, that's something to be mindful of. What should you fill up with instead? Here, Dr. Kelley shares the best drinks and foods for bladder health.

The best drinks and foods for bladder health, according to a urologist:

1. Water

You knew this one was coming right? Nothing can replace good old H20. "If you experience bladder irritation on a regular basis, it's especially important to make sure you're drinking water throughout the day," Dr. Kelley says.

He explains that water makes you pee (okay duh), which flushes bacteria out of the urinary tract. When bacteria hang out in the urinary tract too long, that's what can cause infections. That's why it's important it's consistently flushed out—literally. A good water goal to aim for is 11.5 cups a day. Don't like the taste of plain water? Add some fruit or herbs.

2. Fruits and vegetables with a high water content

Just like water is great for urinary health, Dr. Kelley says foods with a high water content are too. "Any way people can get extra water in their body is usually helpful," he says. Fruits and vegetables tend to be the type of foods highest in water. But Dr. Kelley does have one caveat to this rec: "Fruits that are acidic can actually irritate the bladder, so it's best to choose fruits and vegetables with a high water content that aren't acidic," he says. Some examples of this include coconut, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, peaches, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and collard greens.

3. Fiber-rich foods

What's good for your gut is also good for your bladder. That means high-fiber foods, like whole grains, potatoes, and legumes all come into play here. Remember how Dr. Kelley said you don't want bacteria hanging out? The reason why fibrous foods are helpful is that, like water, they keep the digestive tract moving.

4. Cranberries and cranberry juice

"Historically, [doctors] thought that cranberry juice being good for urinary health was an old wive's tale, but scientific research has actually shown the connection to be strong," Dr. Kelley says. Whether it's consuming cranberries as a fruit, juice, or a supplement, he says it can absolutely support urinary health. Cranberries contain an antioxidant called proanthocyanidins (or PACs for short), which reduces the ability of bacteria to stick to the wall of the urinary tract. Just don't pick a cranberry juice loaded with sugar or it is actually more harmful to the body than it is beneficial.

It bears repeating that if you're experiencing any bladder pain or irritation, no food or drink can replace a doctor's visit—that's crucial. But this list of foods and drinks can support overall urinary health, and Dr. Kelley points out that they'll benefit the body in other ways too. If something is beneficial, it will benefit the body as a whole, not just one way. Even more reason to make sure you're getting your fill of everything on this list.

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