Urinary incontinence and how nutrition can help
Oops! Overactive Bladders in Women
Urinary incontinence (UI) is somewhat of a hushed taboo subject. I recently mentioned the topic to a friend which provoked images and thoughts of Tena lady adverts, infections and elderly women rushing for the bathroom (and not quite making it)! With an estimated 34% of women suffering from involuntary leakages of urine and various supportive nutritional approaches for those experiencing it, this needn’t be an ignored or forbidden topic.
There are a few types of UI including:
Stress incontinence: This can occur when one coughs, sneezes, laughs etc. and could be caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. Childbirth, obesity and chronic constipation can contribute to a weakened pelvic floor.
Urge incontinence: The sudden urge to urinate occurs followed by involuntary loss of urine for no obvious reason or stimuli. This is possibly due to issues such as reduced nerve cell communication, bladder muscle spasms, vaginitis or bladder infections.
Overflow incontinence: Frequent leaking caused by being unable to fully empty the bladder.
* If you have any of these symptoms, it is important that you see a doctor so that they can investigate and provide you with the appropriate treatment, if necessary. *
Natural Nutritional Support
Bladder training, incontinence pads and Kegel/pelvic floor exercises are great ways to help manage UI. But did you know that you can also optimise your nutritional status for support too?
There is a significant association between UI and obesity, smoking, fizzy drinks, caffeine and alcohol. Be intentional about reducing these risk factors.
Magnesium decreases muscles spasms. Good food sources of magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables such as steamed swiss chard and spinach. Other sources include halibut, acorn squash, kelp, steamed broccoli, pumpkin seeds, other green vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Adequate water intake is an important defence against urinary tract infections, which can also cause UI. Aim to drink 6-8 glasses/1.5–2 litres of water per day. This can include natural, unsweetened herbal and fruit teas.
Foods rich in vitamin C and β-Cryptoxanthin (a source of vitamin A) are associated with reduced UI symptoms. These nutrients are prevalent in bell peppers, pumpkin, butternut squash, citrus fruits, carrots and collards.
ELLE ROCK NUTRITION
©Rochelle Logan-Rodgers BSc(Hons), PgDip – BANT & CNHC Registered Nutritional Therapist
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