Tips To Improve Bladder Health
We rarely talk about bladder health, but everyone is affected by it. Located in the lower abdomen, our bladder is a hollow organ, much like a balloon, that stores urine. Urine contains waste and extra fluid left over after the body takes what it needs from what we eat and drink. Each day, we pass about a quart and a half to two quarts (half a gallon) of urine through the bladder and out of the body.
As we get older, our bladders change. The elastic bladder tissue may toughen and become less stretchy. A less flexible bladder cannot hold as much urine as before and might make us go to the bathroom more often. The bladder wall and pelvic floor muscles may weaken, making it harder to empty the bladder fully and causing urine to leak.
While we cannot control everything that affects our bladder, here are some steps we can take to keep it as healthy as possible:
Drink water. How much water we need can vary based on our size, activity level, and where we live. One simple guide is to drink half our body weight in ounces of water. This means a person that weighs 160 pounds should drink approximately 80 ounces of water a day. In general, drink enough water so that we need to urinate every few hours. One key factor – drink good, clean water. Do not count juice, coffee, tea, energy drinks, sodas, or other liquids as water. Nothing beats water.
Use the bathroom often and when needed. Try to urinate at least once every couple hours. Holding urine in our bladder for too long can weaken our bladder muscles and make a bladder infection more likely. Let normal bodily functions like going to the bathroom become a priority, not an afterthought.
Allow ourselves enough time to fully empty the bladder when urinating. Rushing when we urinate may not allow us to fully empty the bladder. If urine stays in the bladder too long, it can make a bladder infection more likely.
Watch what we eat. Some people with bladder problems find that some foods and drinks, such as sodas, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, citrus fruits and juices, and tomato-based foods, make bladder problems worse. Changing our food choices may help bladder health. Generally speaking, lots of fruits and vegetables are great for bladder health.
Stay active and exercise regularly. We knew this one was coming, didn’t we. Activity, whether it be casual walking or vigorous exertion, is great for bladder health. Keep moving and replacing lost body fluid (sweat) with good, clean water.
Stop smoking and limit consumption of alcohol and caffeine. Sorry, but we cannot have a complete article on health without including these recommendations. No matter what area of health we are focusing on, it is always good to stop use of any, and all, tobacco products, drink alcohol and caffeine very rarely and in very limited quantities.
Always be aware of any changes in bladder control and how often we are urinating. If changes are noticed, consult a health care professional, and get some answers.