The Nutrition Connection to Bedwetting
October 13, 2015
For many families nighttime starts with cozy bedtime stories and ends earlier than anyone would like with another bedwetting accident. Most parents recognize that a common final leg of potty training is staying dry throughout the night, but for many children that’s a big challenge. Recent statistics show 20 to 25 percent of children still wet the bed at the age of six. Along with the soggy sheets you’ll often find an embarrassed little kiddo whose self-esteem may suffer after years of bedwetting.
What causes bedwetting? While some theories point to a small bladder or deep sleeping, we tend to disagree. With over 25 years of clinical experience at Nutritional Weight & Wellness have found that there is often an underlying nutrition connection—and nutrition solution.
It’s difficult for many parents to make the connection that their family’s food choices may be affecting their child’s bladder control. We’re talking simple, and often mindless, food choices—the candy sucker you pick up in line at the bank or the M&M bowl in your kitchen—foods like these irritate the brain which is really where the bladder control comes from.
The biggest food culprits for disrupting the brain are sugar, bread, bad fats and food dyes. Think of that. It’s a possibility that when your little bedwetter eats Froot Loops® in the morning (loaded with three of the worst culprits, sugar, bad fats and food dyes) he/she may have a problem in the middle of the night.
To better understand just how prevalent these brain disrupter foods are, look at sugar alone. It’s hidden, or in plain sight, in almost all foods and beverages marketed to children. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average child under 12 consumes 49 pounds of sugar per year. Part of that 49 pounds is the sugar found in a typical child’s lunch—76 grams of carbs or 19 teaspoons of sugar. That’s almost the equivalent of four Twinkies!
The bottom line is that sugar, bread, bad fats and food dyes equals inflammation in the body. For some kids that inflammation creates brain stress and they may lose bladder control at night, others may have a hard time focusing in school or suffer from asthma attacks.
The 1978 book, Basics of Food Allergy, James C. Breneman, M.D. states that “Control of food allergy is effective in curbing bedwetting in four out of five patients…” At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we can attest, having seen many children in our counseling rooms who are constant bedwetters and also suffering from an undiagnosed food sensitivity. Gluten is typically the most prevalent source of nighttime incontinence for children. Sensitivity to dairy products, eggs and other items can also be the cause.
While it’s hard to ignore a symptom (even if you don’t know it’s a symptom of anything) like bedwetting, it’s very easy to miss other allergy indicators such as diarrhea and fatigue. Both can easily be attributed to other issues entirely. Similarly, a child can’t articulate that they feel a strange “brain fog,” so you may just think they’re tired when it’s really a reaction to gluten.
We recognize that it’s really hard work for parents to make these changes. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. We’ve found that children, especially the older ones still suffering from bedwetting, are truly motivated to change their eating habits if that means they can go over to a sleepover without fear of wetting their friends’ bed.
To get started, we’d recommend a meeting with a nutritionist to determine what foods are causing inflammation and what supplements could help their bodies heal. We can work together to get your family sleeping soundly, the whole night through.
For more information, listen to our Dishing Up Nutrition Podcast: Common Concerns for Kids: Focus, Asthma and Bedwetting