The relationship between diet and IC/PBS can be a confusing issue for sufferers. On the one hand, you are advised about the importance of a healthy diet and to eat a variety of foods from different food groups. This is certainly good advice. On the other hand, some of these "healthy" foods can make your symptoms worse. So, where do you start?
Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules. Every person has different tolerances to foods that will irritate their bladder. The amount of food consumed before bladder irritation starts can also vary from one person to another. Some people may be able to comsume a small quantity of an "offending food," but if they consume more, they may have an IC flare; in others, just one mouthful of the same "offending food" may make their symptoms much worse.
Others may find that their diet does not seem to influence their IC symptoms at all. It is not fully understood why there are such individual responses to diet; perhaps it is because IC/PBS sufferers have different causative factors for their bladder symptoms, giving different experiences with food.
Possible Trigger Foods for IC/PBS Sufferers
There is no definitive or exhaustive list that is correct. In our experience, based on information given by our membership, every individual is different and what may suit one person, may not suit another. However, there are certain “bad” foods that everyone seems to agree on shown below:
Caffeinated Tea and Coffee (decaffeinated may be tolerated)
Acidic Fruit Juices (other than blueberry or pear)
Chocolate (contains caffeine)
Fruit – particularly berry fruits i.e. strawberries
Generally, all foods high in acidity are not well tolerated. COB can offer a nutrition advice service to our members, whereby they can speak with an expert to help them cope with diet queries and problems. We also have a comprehensive diet sheet which is available to members.
A telephone help-line is available to members of The Cystitis and Overactive Bladder Foundation. It is an individual way of offering confidential help and support on the subjects of nutrition, diet, detection of trigger foods, plus advice on vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements. It is run by Serena Foster, who has experience with IC sufferers, and available at a cost of £20 per 20 minutes, to include the cost of the call.
If you are a member and interested in this service you can download the nutrition form or send a stamped addressed envelope to us, along with a cheque payment to Serena Foster and we will send you a short Nutritional Assessment form to complete and return. She will then make contact with you by telephone.
Serene Foster MNIMH, MCPP DPhil (Oxon) BSc (Hons), is a qualified and registered Herbal Practitioner and Immunologist who has covered nutritional therapy in her training.
Here are a few alternative supplements which may aid recovery:
L-Arginine - A naturally-occurring amino acid thought to increase the blood flow to the bladder.
Quercetin - A bioflavonoid, it is a natural anti-histamine.
Bromalaine - It is derived from the pineapple plant and is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Pumpkin Seeds - They are high in Omega-3 essential fatty acids which are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. The seeds of the pumpkin were used by American Indians to treat bladder, kidney and digestive problems.
Prelief® – This product is a calcium glycerophosphate, a food-grade mineral classified as a dietary supplement, for use with acidic foods and beverages, it acts as an alkalising agent to enable some with IC/PBS to tolerate certain foods that may cause irritation. Prelief® comes in two forms, powder or tablets. It is available to purchase in the UK from www.nutricentre.com. COB members receive a 10% discount when purchasing this product. Please contact the COB office for the product code to obtain your membership discount. The COB Foundation conducted a Prelief® trial in 1998, for trial results please contact us (only available for members).
All of the above supplements can be purchased at most health food shops or via the internet.