Most of us are rarely concerned with our bladder health; however, like any organ, good bladder health matters. Each day, our body produces urine, composed of waste and extra fluid left after it takes what it needs from the food we eat and drink. The bladder’s role is for storing and emptying urine as the kidneys produce it.
For a better understanding of our bladder, it helps to know that the bladder is a triangular-shaped, hollow organ, like a balloon, held in place by ligaments located in the lower abdomen. As urine from the kidneys trickles down into the bladder throughout the day, the walls of this organ will expand to store the urine. When the bladder is full and is ready to expel stored urine through the urethra, the bladder’s walls will relax to eliminate this fluid. Healthy adults can store up to two cups of urine in the bladder for approximately two to five hours before having the urge to urinate.
Every day, the average adult makes about a quart and a half of urine that passes through the bladder and out of the body
As we age, bladder changes can occur. For instance, it’s not uncommon for the bladder to become less flexible and lose its stretchiness. Loss of flexibility can cause issues such urinating more frequently since it can’t hold as much urine as before. Then, if bladder walls and pelvic floor muscles have weakened, emptying the bladder becomes more difficult, which can result in incontinence issues.
That’s why practicing healthy steps for keeping our bladder healthy for years is vital. Here are six simple steps to begin today:
- Drink 6 to 8 cups of water daily
Water is the go-to beverage each of us should drink throughout our day. Moderate your intake of caffeine and alcohol, as these beverages can irritate and upset the bladder. Other beverages to cut back on are coffee, tea, and sodas, as they are diuretics and may lead to urine leakage.
2. Practice good bathroom habits
Listen to your body throughout the day. When you have the urge to urinate, do so. Refrain from holding urine for extended periods, as it can weaken bladder muscles and increase the risk of infection. Take time to always empty your bladder each time you urinate. Failing to empty the bladder each time can increase the risk of a bladder infection.
3. Avoid foods that irritate the bladder
Certain foods are known to increase urinary incontinence. These foods include chocolate, caffeinated foods and beverages, and spicy or acidic foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
4. Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
Strong pelvic floor muscles are vital for treating and preventing urinary incontinence, treating pelvic organ prolapse, and improving your sex life. Practice Kegel exercises often to engage the pelvic floor muscles helping to strengthen this area.
5. Never smoke
One of the leading causes of bladder cancer is smoking cigarettes. Cigarette smokers have a two to three times higher risk of this type of cancer. Years of smoking flood the bloodstream with cancer-causing chemicals that must be filtered by the kidneys that are passed into the urine. Since the bladder stores urine, it will be exposed to these harmful chemicals, which increases the risk of bladder cancer.
6. Exercise regularly
Daily exercise promotes better blood flow, a healthy body weight, prevents constipation, and improves bladder function. However, carrying excess body weight increases the odds of suffering from bladder incontinence. Likewise, being constipated puts pressure on the bladder, preventing it from expanding fully resulting in the bladder filling up faster or involuntary contractions.
- Eat foods that promote bladder health
When choosing foods for bladder health, think of foods high in fiber, less acidic, antioxidant-rich, and has a high water content. The best foods include berries, grapes, pears, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale.
7. Manage chronic conditions
Certain unmanaged chronic conditions, such as diabetes, vascular disease, urinary tract infections (UTIs), interstitial cystitis, overactive bladder, urinary incontinence, and bladder cancer, can each cause issues with bladder health. For example, uncontrolled diabetes can damage the nerves around the bladder. Frequent UTIs can weaken the urethra muscles. Treating and controlling conditions these conditions by working with your doctor helps reduce bladder health problems.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.