What Foods Cause Incontinence?
Christmas Edition!

If you want to enjoy your Christmas meal without it worsening your incontinence symptoms, read on to find out which foods to consume mindfully.

What Foods Cause Incontinence?
Christmas Edition!

If you want to enjoy your Christmas meal without it worsening your incontinence symptoms, read on to find out which foods to consume mindfully.

Christmas is right around the corner, and we all know what that means - a huge feast of delicious food and drinks!

Now we want you to enjoy yourself come Christmas Day, however, it’s important to be mindful of what you eat and drink if you’re experiencing incontinence.  

Research has shown that certain foods can trigger unwanted urinary and/or faecal symptoms, because they cause inflammation of the bladder or bowel lining. And it might surprise you to know that some foods on the list are those commonly included in holiday meals.

So read on as we break down which sweet and savoury Christmas foods can be bad for incontinence. And remember, always speak to your GP, dietitian or continence nurse before making any changes to your diet.

Red Meat

While red meat (including beef, pork and lamb) is a great source of important nutrients like protein, iron and other vitamins, it also has a high content of saturated fat, acid and salt, all of which can be disruptive, even harmful, to your bladder and/or bowel health.

Red meat can also contribute to constipation, which can impact urinary incontinence by adding pressure onto the bladder, as well as bringing uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, abdominal cramps and excess wind.

While a Christmas roast is often the star of any holiday meal, it’s possible it could worsen any incontinence symptoms if you experience the condition - so you might want to consider opting for a lighter alternative such as super-lean cuts of red meat, poultry or fish.

If you do consume red meat, remember to stay hydrated and consume foods with a high fibre content alongside it, including:

  • Wholegrains

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Legumes

Research suggests that the impact of red meat consumption on bowel health, particularly when eaten with fibrous fruit or vegetables, helps reduce the impact on the large bowel and colon

Processed Meats

When we think of processed meats, we might immediately bring to mind pre-packaged meats with added chemical preservatives. But did you know that processed meat also includes anything that has been smoked, cured, salted or dried?

The preservation techniques used in these types of meats can worsen urinary incontinence by causing inflammation to the bladder lining. The high salt content in them can also impact symptoms, as excess consumption of salt can cause the body to retain water and increase urine volume [1].

The combination of these effects can mean a more frequent urge to urinate, as well as raise the chance of leaks - especially if you already experiencing urinary incontinence.

Try swapping the prosciutto on your charcuterie board for bladder-friendly, low-salt snacks, such as thinly shaved turkey breast, instead.

Dairy Products

Many people struggle to digest lactose, a sugar compound found in dairy products, and it can often result in uncomfortable gastrointestinal issues if consumed. However, a 2020 U.S. study found that women with faecal incontinence commonly reported dairy products as a trigger for their condition [2] - regardless of a lactose intolerance.

Dairy products like ice cream, sour cream, cheese and milk can also inflame the lining of the bladder, as well as other unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhoea or conversely, constipation.

Try to steer clear of any of these products to avoid any discomfort, and if possible try substituting dairy in your Christmas cake or pudding recipes with plant-based or dairy-free alternatives

Spicy, Acidic or Sugary Foods

This will likely come as no surprise, but spicy foods are known for being irritants to the bladder and bowel, causing an inflammation of their lining. Acidic foods, like tomatoes or citrus, can also have this effect.

When your bladder or bowel is irritated, it can trigger uncomfortable symptoms of incontinence - whether that be an increase in the frequency of urination or the need to have a bowel movement.

So be aware when reaching for a condiment to add to your Christmas lunch or dinner, and avoid any hot chilli sauces, horseradish, citrus dressings or even tomato-based sauces like passata. Instead, try opting for mild spices and herbs to flavour foods, like rosemary, dill or thyme.

Foods that are high in sugar, and even artificial sweeteners like aspartame (found in Equal), can contribute to bladder irritation and higher volume of urine output, too.

Fried or High-Fat Foods

There’s already a lot of information out there telling us that fried foods aren’t good for overall health, so it might not surprise you to know that consuming fried and high-fat foods isn’t great for your continence either.

A 2004 UK study of 5,816 women aged 40 years and over found that those who consumed higher amounts of total fat (including saturated and monounsaturated fats) were at higher risk of developing onset urinary incontinence [3]. It’s also cited as a contributor to aggravating faecal incontinence symptoms [2, 4].

When preparing your Christmas meal, try to avoid cooking or frying with any refined fats, which are all of the vegetable oils - canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil - and instead swap them out for coconut oil, avocado oil or olive oil. Try to limit the amount of butter added in, too, and avoid deep frying if you can!

The effect of these foods of course varies from person to person, and avoiding or limiting intake of each one might not be necessary for your situation. It’s best to keep a record of foods you notice trigger symptoms to get a better idea of what dietary changes will best help you manage.

It’s also a great idea to invest in quality incontinence aids to wear and have with you on the day so you can feel confident that you’ll be protected from any leaks.

Our Dailee products are fitted with industry-leading absorption technology to quickly wick any liquid away from the skin and an active odour neutraliser to keep you feeling fresh for up to 12 hours.

We hope this article helps you plan your holiday meal to be as kind to your bladder and bowel as possible, and we wish you all a safe and merry holiday period!

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