Honest Talk about Urinary Incontinence
By JoAnn Ridout, MPH, RD, LD
September 12, 2016
This is a very personal topic, one we often don't want to talk about. However, this issue plagues many women of all ages, and you may be surprised to hear that some men also suffer from incontinence.
Women are five times more likely to have incontinence than men. Common reasons include nerve damage from childbirth, surgeries, radiation, smoking, and alcohol. Prescription medications can have an effect on thinning of muscle tissue also.
Urge incontinence is a common issue for women of all ages. Stress incontinence may happen when you cough, sneeze, stand up quickly, or when you exercise. Thin tissue in the urethra can be caused by hormone imbalance, along with very low fat and low protein diets.
- 10-30% of women age 15-64 years have urinary incontinence
- 15-35% of women are affected post menopause, over 65 years old
- 75% of women post menopause have some degree of urge incontinence
Why is incontinence so prevalent?
Many years of following low calorie and low fat eating plans and our fear of protein have left us with weak pelvic floor muscles and thin tissue in the urethra. Hormonal changes and some medications we may use can cause thin tissues and urgency.
Both stress incontinence and urge incontinence are aggravated by sugar, caffeine, soda (diet and regular), food additives, and alcohol. It is best to avoid these substances if you are having incontinence issues or frequent infections.
What can we do to rebuild the muscle?
At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we know that a high protein food plan, along with healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables can help us avoid inflammation and heal our bodies, even the pelvic muscles and thin urethral tissues.
Many women have been avoiding protein for fear of the fat and calories. We recommend an anti-inflammatory eating plan including the following:
- Avoid grains, dairy, and soy. These foods are known to cause inflammation.
- High quality protein. Use grass fed or organic if possible.
- Healthy fats. We are a "fat phobic" society, which is unfortunate because we need healthy fats to hydrate the urethral tissues.
- Vegetable Carbohydrates, along with a few fruits: Modern diets have way too many processed foods, sugar, and chemical additives, which cause inflammation. Be cautious of grains if you are carbohydrate sensitive.
- Beverages: Drink at least 8-10 glasses water daily, or 50% of your body weight in ounces. Avoid caffeine, soda, sugary drinks, and alcohol.
Do you suffer from frequent urinary tract infections?
Frequent urinary tract infections are common. Include the above food recommendations to avoid a reoccurrence. Ongoing use of antibiotics is problematic for your intestinal health and can exacerbate the likelihood of repeated infections. Probiotics such as bifido bacteria and lactobacillus acidophilus are often recommended to avoid infections and the overuse of antibiotics.
- Get a medical evaluation to be sure there is not an anatomical reason for the infections.
- Follow the anti-inflammatory food guidelines above.
- Avoid caffeine and soda. Drink filtered water, equal to 50% of your body weight in ounces.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (blue package), sucralose (yellow), and saccharin (pink).
- Reduce alcohol, sugar, soy, and grains.
- Follow a supplement plan that includes acidophilus probiotic, B vitamins, and cranberry capsules (Cran Max) depending on your personal health history.
See a Nutritionist
Consider setting up an appointment with a nutritionist for your overall health improvement plan. We offer in person or phone appointments. An anti-inflammatory food plan is not easy to implement and follow.
We work with you to make a practical meal plan that fits with your schedule and your individual needs. We can help you improve your health to prevent infections, and improve other health concerns that you may have, such as weight, blood sugar, hormonal imbalance, etc. We look forward to working with you.
The Wisdom of Menopause, Dr, Christiane Northrup, 2012
Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way, Susun S. Weed, 1992