Exactly What Urologists Recommend Eating for Optimal Bladder Health—And the 4 Irritants To Avoid

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Chances are, you can rattle off at least a short list of foods that are good for your heart (olive oil and cocoa powder, for example) and your gut (fermented probiotic foods). But what about foods for bladder health?

According to research, nearly 60 percent of women and 10 percent of men will get a urinary tract infection (UTI) at least once in their lifetime. As such, finding ways to support overall bladder health is a top priority, especially for those prone to recurring UTIs. To learn more about the best foods for bladder health, we caught up with urologist and urological surgeon James Kelley, DO, who shared foods and drinks to keep your urinary system flowing (pun intended) smoothly.

Experts In This Article
  • Adam Ramin, MD, board-certified urologist and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles
  • James Kelley, DO, James Kelley, DO, is a urologist and urological surgeon based in Mansfield, Texas.
  • Mehran Movassaghi, MD, urologist and director of Men’s Health at Providence Saint John’s Health Center and assistant professor of Urology at Saint John’s Cancer Institute

Foods and drinks that are good for the bladder

When identifying foods for bladder health, Dr. Kelley says there's three things they all have in common: they tend to have a high water content, be more alkaline than acidic, and are high in antioxidants to lower inflammation in the body—fruits and vegetables are a great example. A few more individual food groups and full bladder-friendly meals recommended by urologists:

Best bladder-friendly foods

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.

Fiber-rich foods: Surprise! 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. The reason why fibrous foods are helpful is that, like water, they keep the digestive tract moving and help prevent bacteria from building up that can impact the urinary system.

Best bladder-friendly drinks

Water: You knew this one was coming right? Nothing can replace good old H2O. "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—and why consuming foods and drinks that make you pee frequently is the goal. A good water goal to aim for is 11.5 cups a day; however, you may want to stay away from the bubbly stuff as sparkling water can be a (sneaky) bladder irritant for some folks.

Don't like the taste of plain water? Add some fruit or herbs or try some lemon water (although keep in minds its benefits may have been a little overstated in recent years).

Cranberry juice (and whole cranberries): "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. Pro tip: Avoid picking a cranberry juice loaded with added sugar or it is actually more harmful to the body than it is beneficial.

Best bladder-friendly meal ideas, according to urologists


Urologist's breakfasts are nutrient-dense: Think eggs with whole grain toast, fresh fruit smoothies, Greek yogurt, and smoked salmon with sliced avocado and cucumber.

“I love bananas, which are high in magnesium and potassium to allow for normal bowel function,” says Mehran Movassaghi, MD, urologist and director of Men’s Health at Providence Saint John’s Health Center and Assistant Professor of Urology at Saint John’s Cancer Institute. “I also eat nuts, berries, and eggs daily—and I always have berries fresh without any added sugar." He recommends eating them plain or tossing them in with unsweetened yogurt that contains bladder-friendly probiotics, like Greek yogurt or skyr.

Eggs served on whole grain toast with mashed avocado or as an omelet or frittata paired with roasted potatoes over a bed of vitamin D-rich greens are also great for your bladder. Dr. Movassaghi also spreads nut butter on whole grain toast with sliced bananas and chia seeds, or blends up banana with berries, greens, and creamy avocado for a portable breakfast to sip on the go.


S. Adam Ramin, MD, urologist and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles likes to eat salads with protein that include a range of fruits and veggies for antioxidant benefits. “My top choices for sources of protein are grilled or baked hormone-free chicken, oven-baked salmon, or seared Ahi tuna,” Dr. Ramin says. These are healthier than proteins with higher levels of saturated fat, like red meat or fried chicken. "I recommend eating red meat in moderation to avoid increasing your risk of heart disease and high cholesterol," he says.

“My top choices for sources of protein are grilled or baked hormone-free chicken, oven-baked salmon, or seared Ahi tuna."
—S. Adam Ramin, MD, urologist and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists

As for toppers, go for a variety of veggies: red, yellow, green, orange, and white fruits and veggies all have a place on the plate. “Leafy greens, bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, and berries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” Dr. Ramin says. He also recommends including avocados and olive oil for healthy fats. "I love a base of greens—lettuce, spinach, kale, or arugula—and mixing in a serving of grains for texture and nutrients," he says. Meanwhile, couscous and quinoa are two of his all-time favorites.

You can also use nuts, seeds, and berries as salad ingredients, all of which offer bladder-supporting properties, especially cranberries. Almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and cashews are all good sources of unsaturated fats and/or omega-3 fatty acids.


For dinner, Dr. Ramin and Dr. Movassaghi both love eating protein-rich foods such as chicken breast, tofu, and fish, along with a whole grain and veggie side (or two) for added protein and fiber, which may come from starch and lots of veggies. Salads, grain bowls, and tacos are all delicious examples. They recommend pairing tofu with a side of sautéed greens and garlic, which is a natural antibiotic and good for the bladder. (And feel free to swap out tofu for turkey breast, chicken, salmon, ahi tuna, halibut, or beans instead.)

On the other hand, a baked sweet potato is one of Dr. Movassaghi's favorite sides—as it’s the perfect vehicle for protein, fiber, and potassium for electrolyte benefits, making it a good suggestion for a bladder-friendly dinner, especially after exercise. Want to amp up the perks? Try stuffing it with veggies, cheese, and legumes. Swoon.


In terms of snacks, simple, yet nutritious, is best. “I love to have unsalted almonds and hard boiled eggs,” says Dr. Movassaghi, as they’re high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. “Keeping the fat content low minimizes both bowel and bladder irritation,” he says. Other ideas include egg cups packed with veggies and cheese, avocado or hummus on toast, homemade trail mix, or kale chips with nutritional yeast and garlic powder.

Foods to avoid if you're concerned about bladder health

According to Dr. Kelley, these four food (and drink) groups are notorious for being irritating to the bladder: caffeine, alcohol, acidic foods, and spicy foods.

“In general, acidic foods, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol tend to cause bladder irritation," Dr. Movassaghi agrees. "This may include urgency, urinary frequency, and a feeling of incomplete bladder emptying," he says. In addition to these, there are a few more foods that Dr. Ramin says often cause urinary irritation: coffee, black tea, spicy foods, fried foods, and processed foods, especially those that contain a high amount of sugar, salt, and/or preservatives. For example, packaged pastries or frozen meals that contain high amounts of saturated fat can cause inflammation.

According to Dr. Kelley, these four food (and drink) groups are notorious for being irritating to the bladder: caffeine, alcohol, acidic foods, and spicy foods.

Even though avoiding some of these foods can help you on your bladder health journey, it bears repeating that if you're experiencing any bladder pain or irritation, no food or drink can replace a doctor's visit. But, there's a caveat: 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.

How can I make my bladder healthier?

According to Dr. Kelley, choosing the right foods for bladder health can be a great way to promote overall well-being. However, before you dive head-first into grocery shopping for bladder-healthy foods, Dr. Kelley says it's important to identify what may be the root cause of your bladder irritation in the first place, especially if you tried the 20-second bladder rule at home and suspect something may be out of balance.

"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 the doctor recommends scheduling an appointment with a health professional, who can help you get to the bottom of what's causing your urinary pain or irritation first.

Once any serious ailments are resolved or identified, Dr. Kelley says focusing on maintaining a bladder-healthy diet can help keep the urinary system in tip-top shape on the day-to-day. So, if bladder irritation is something you experience on a regular basis you may want to listen up. A sneak peek of what's ahead: foods and drinks that can help support overall bladder health, and ones that may not be helping the cause.

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Hisano, Marcelo et al. “Cranberries and lower urinary tract infection prevention.” Clinics (Sao Paulo, Brazil) vol. 67,6 (2012): 661-8. doi:10.6061/clinics/2012(06)18

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