Bladder irritation can occur on a temporary or long-term basis. Short-term causes include urinary tract infections, recent childbirth or catheterization. In the longer term, chronic bladder irritation can be caused by a condition known as interstitial cystitis, which, according to the Interstitial Cystitis Network, is common in adults over the age of 40. Certain foods are known to make bladder irritation worse, but other foods can help to relieve bladder irritation. Individuals may tolerate foods differently, so find out which foods act as irritants or soothing agents for you. Use an elimination diet, removing one food from your diet at a time, to determine which foods cause problems.
In general, the less acidic a vegetable is, the more soothing its effect upon the bladder. Spicy and acidic vegetables and fruits such as hot peppers, pickles, tomatoes and raw onions should be avoided while your bladder is irritated. However, several vegetables are considered to have a soothing effect on the bladder, including avocados, asparagus, broccoli, squash, rutabaga, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cucumber, green beans, collard greens, kale, okra, spinach, swiss chard and most salad greens, including lettuce.
Some patients with bladder problems find milk to be soothing as it acts as an antacid. However, if the bladder is irritated due to a bacterial infection, milk may enable bacteria to grow by neutralizing the acidity that could kill it, the Interstitial Cystitis Network notes. In general, mild-flavored dairy products have a soothing effect on the bladder. Mild cheeses such as mozzarella, American cheese, feta, ricotta and mild cheddar soothe the bladder--processed cheese should be avoided as chemical preservatives in this kind of cheese can act as bladder irritants. Likewise, sharp cheeses such as Parmesan should be avoided. Cream cheeses, cottage cheese and ice cream without citrus or chocolate flavoring are also soothing foods for an irritated bladder.
Spicy, processed and smoked meats are relatively likely to exacerbate bladder irritation. However, fresh and mild-flavored meats have a generally soothing effect on the bladder. Bladder-friendly meats include turkey, chicken, fish, beef, lamb, clams, veal, and beef or chicken liver. To avoid bladder irritation, cook meats with the minimum possible amount of seasoning, and do not use spicy or peppery marinades or sauces.
- Interstitial Cystitis Network: Introduction
- "Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine"; Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome: Symptom Recognition is Key to Early Identification, Treatment; M. Rosen et al.; 2007
- Interstitial Cystitis Network: What is Interstitial Cystitis?
- Interstitial Cystitis Network: How Foods Irritate the Bladder