Overactive bladder diet: Foods and drinks to manage bladder health

Foods and Drink for Overactive Bladder

As studies have shown, those who suffer from overactive bladder (OAB) can manage their bladder health with diet adjustments. While it does take a little planning, it can bring many OAB sufferers a lot of relief.


Overactive bladder is best described as a bladder problem that leads to the sudden urge to urinate or the need to urinate frequently throughout the day and night. While volume of fluid intake can have an impact on this condition, there seems to be a lot of personal testimony suggesting the type of fluid and the kind of foods that are consumed play a very big role in the symptom flare-ups.

Statistics indicate that approximately 33 million Americans have overactive bladder, but there are likely many more people who haven’t reported the problem to their doctors. Part of the reason people go undiagnosed is because they are too “embarrassed” to talk about it or they think there is no way to treat it.  It’s a shame because overactive bladder can disrupt a person’s work, social, and family life.

Certain foods can irritate the bladder and urinary tract. Although the impact of different foods vary from person to person, many people do find that slight adjustments to their diet or focusing on foods for bladder health are a good way to help treat OAB.

Foods to eat and avoid with overactive bladder

Overactive bladder diet is something that people who suffer from sensory urgency can benefit from. Those with sensory urgency find that certain foods trigger their overactive bladder. While an OAB diet is different for each person, we do have a general sense of foods that irritate the bladder. For instance, case studies show that tomato-based foods, spicy foods, certain fruits, and caffeinated food items tend to irritate the bladder. Artificial sweeteners can also have a negative impact on the bladder. At the same time, food items such as lean meats that are lightly seasoned and fresh vegetables appear to help calm the bladder.

Here’s a list of more specific foods that seem to trigger OAB symptoms:

  • Citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and oranges
  • Chocolate, in bars, cookies, and other desserts
  • Tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • Raw onions
  • Chilies, wasabi, or any hot sauce
  • Aspartame, saccharin, and other artificial sweeteners
  • Potato chips, salted nuts, and other salty foods

Low citrus fruits, such as pears, apples, and bananas, are good for those who suffer from OAB. So are foods with fiber. While raw onions bother a lot of people with bladder issues, some say that cooked onions are a food they can eat without experiencing any symptoms. Brown rice, beans, carrots, peas, and nuts have are also good food choices for people who have overactive bladder.

Dieticians suggest that people with overactive bladder maintain a food journal so that they can keep track of what they are eating and identify items that seem to aggravate their condition. They also say people who are considering a bladder diet need to get into the habit of reading labels when they go grocery shopping. Oftentimes, there is caffeine, added salt, or artificial sweeteners in food that we don’t realize unless we read labels carefully.

What to drink and avoid with overactive bladder

When thinking about a bladder diet, deciding what to drink can be a challenge for some people. It is important to stay hydrated, and some people with OAB avoid drinking to prevent multiple washroom visits, but this is not a good idea. Dehydration can cause constipation and a whole host of other problems. Although we have always been instructed to drink eight glasses of water a day, some people may not need that much and those with overactive bladder should simply remember to drink water when they feel thirsty. They should also spread their fluid intake out throughout the day, sipping their drinks as opposed to gulping them. If a person is drinking enough, then their urine will be light yellow or almost colorless.

In terms of choice, here are some drinks people with OAB might want to avoid:

  • Coffee, cola, tea, and energy drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Acidic fruit juices
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Drinks with artificial sweeteners

Studies show that reducing caffeine intake to below 100 mg per day – which is the amount in a regular cup of drip coffee – can reduce bladder problems for a lot of people. This means that some OAB sufferers may still be able to enjoy at least one cup of coffee in a day. It is a case of trial and error, as some will find they can’t handle the slightest amount of caffeine. When it comes to fruit juice, some have found that adding a little bit of extra water to the juice is helpful, while others discover that they have to switch to juices that are less acidic.


No matter what the drink choice is, people who experience overactive bladder often discover that drinking after six or sevem pm at night is a mistake. They tend to get up several times in the night to urinate, which of course means that they don’t get a very good sleep.

Other tips to manage an overactive bladder

An overactive bladder diet may seem really restricting, but it doesn’t mean that you are stuck with a bland, tasteless menu for the rest of your life. If you suffer from OAB, there are lots of delicious foods that can calm the bladder. For example, many people with the condition can enjoy a bowl of oatmeal and fresh blueberries with all-natural maple syrup for breakfast or an egg-white omelet with spinach and mozzarella cheese. Lunch or dinner can include salad with black beans, cucumber, bell peppers, and black olives. If you liked PB & J as a kid, then you can try a whole-wheat peanut butter and jelly sandwich made from all-natural peanut butter and jelly that have no artificial sweeteners.

Without treatment, the symptoms of OAB make it difficult to get through a day without several trips to the bathroom. It can be tiresome, and it makes the sufferer feel nervous about going out with friends or participating in activities because of the fear of not being able to find a washroom. Some people with overactive bladder shy away from socializing or doing the activities they once loved. Before long, they start to feel alone and isolated. Many are surprised when they finally realize that diet can make a huge difference for them.



Related Reading:

Overactive bladder signs, symptoms, and complications

Natural bladder supplements: Herbal remedies for overactive bladder