Interstitial cystitis, or IC, is a chronic, inflammatory disorder of the bladder. Its symptoms mimic urinary tract infection symptoms; however no pathogenic organism is involved in IC. Instead, it is believed that the protective lining of the bladder of IC patients has been eroded; consequently the bladder of IC patients becomes highly sensitive and irritated. According to a June 2002 article in the publication “Environmental Nutrition,” certain foods and drinks can aggravate the bladders of IC sufferers and are correlated with an exacerbation of symptoms.
Beverages to Avoid
The most commonly irritating beverages according to “Environmental Nutrition” and Mary Bove in her February 2005 article in “Better Nutrition” are coffee; black, green and herbal tea; most fruit juices, especially cranberry and citrus fruit juice; all carbonated beverages and alcohol.
The Biggest Food Offenders
The biggest food offenders, according to "Environmental Nutrition" and Bove, are tomatoes and tomato products; lemons, limes and grapefruits; vinegars; chocolate and all cocoa products; artificial sweeteners; most spices; citric acid and most other preservatives. In addition to citrus many other fruits are aggravating to IC sufferers, and apricots, berries, cantaloupes, cherries, grapes, guava, kiwi, papaya, passionfruit, persimmon, peaches, pineapple, plums, starfruit, and dried figs, raisins and all dried fruit with preservatives can all be problematic.
The Second Biggest Food Offenders
Although not as common, certain meat, fish and nut products are aggravating to some IC sufferers. The avoidance of ham, hot dogs, sausages, salami, pepperoni, smoked fish, smoked meat, and sandwich meat may be beneficial. Hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachio nuts and walnuts can also cause IC flare-ups.
According to Diana Quinn in “The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine,” certain foods promote inflammation in the body and these foods may also be problematic to IC sufferers. The most common pro-inflammatory foods include wheat, dairy, soy, peanuts and nightshade vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes. Other substances that Quinn recommends avoiding include caffeine, sugar, spicy and acidic foods, and food additives.
Discover Hidden Food Sensitivities
"Environmental Nutrition" notes, however, that these foods are not aggravating to everyone and some IC sufferers can eat these foods without experiencing any problems. Since everyone is different, you will need to discover through trial and error which foods are aggravating to you. Many IC sufferers have hidden food sensitivities, and they need to identify and eliminate these foods. Use a food journal to help you pinpoint and keep track of which foods cause IC flare-ups. Foods that you are sensitive to will usually cause symptoms within two to four hours of consumption.