There is no “diet” to cure incontinence. However, there are certain dietary matters you should know about.

Many people who have bladder control problems reduce the amount of liquids they drink in the hope that they will need to urinate less often. While less liquid through the mouth does result in less liquid in the form of urine, the smaller amount of urine may be more highly concentrated and, thus, irritating to the bladder surface. Highly concentrated, dark yellow, strong urine may cause you to go to the bathroom more frequently. It also encourages growth of bacteria. And when bacteria begin to grow, infection set in, and incontinence may be the result.

Do not restrict fluids to control incontinence without the advice of your physician. Always follow your doctor’s order.
And, when in doubt, consult a physician, nurse or pharmacist.

Some foods cause urine to smell bad or peculiar. The most notable of these foods is asparagus. Some other foods may affect the way your urine smells. Another cause of foul smelling urine, and the most dangerous cause, is urinary tact infection. If you notice that your urine has a strong odour to it and you have not eaten any foods that would cause this, you should see a physician and have a specimen of your urine tested for infection.

Some medicines may cause your urine to be discoloured or have an unusual odour. Some are medicines that you take for bladder inflammation or for urine tests. Others you take for separate health conditions. If your urine has a peculiar colour or odour, consult the pharmacist who filled your prescription.

Some foods and beverage are thought to contribute to bladder leakage. Their effect on the bladder is not always understood, but you may want to see if eliminating one or all of the items listed improves your urine control.

  • Alcoholic beverage
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Carbonated beverage
  • Soft drinks with caffeine
  • Milk/milk products
  • Coffee (even decaffeinated)
  • Tea
  • Medicines with caffeine
  • Citrus juice & fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato-based products
  • Highly spiced foods
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Chocolate
  • Corn Syrup
  • Artificial sweetener

Grape juice, cranberry juice, cherry juice, and apple juice are thirst-quenchers that usually are not irritating to the bladder. Cranberry juice and cherry juice may help control urine odour. The best beverage is water. A very thin slice of lemon (not enough citrus juice to irritate the bladder) may improve the taste of water enough that you will find it enjoyable.

Women are subject to irritation of the lower urinary system, because the urethra [tube from the bladder to the outside of the body] is very short. They should avoid nylon underpants and pantyhose next to their body. Cotton underpants are preferable. Women should avoid coloured and perfumed toilet tissue and sanitary napkins because the dyes and perfumes may be irritating. They should not use detergent bath additives. Some urologists suggest that women never sit in a bathtub and always take a shower. If you have bladder pain, urgency, and frequency, and symptoms that feel like infection, but you doctor says you do not have an infection, you should see a specialist. Some of the advice in this leaflet may not be helpful to women with irritative voiding symptoms.

Constipation could be a cause of your bladder control problems. When the rectum is full of stool, it may disturb the bladder and cause the sensation of urgency and frequency. If you have history of constipated or have recently become constipated, see your physician. Constipation may be caused by the medicines you are taking, a “sluggish bowel,” or other conditions. Most people in Western society should add more bulk to their diet in the form of a high-fibre diet, fibre additives, or bulking agents. Discuss your need for fibre with your doctor, pharmacist or a nutritionist.

When you add fibre to your diet, it is important not to restrict fluids. Also, you may note that you feel bloated and have gas in the beginning. This discomfort will be temporary. If you are constipated, this Special Recipe will be helpful.

Special Recipe
1 cup applesauce
1 cup oat bran
1/4 cup prune juice
Spice as desired
(Cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)

This recipe may be stored in your refrigerator or in the freezer. Pre-measured servings may be frozen in sectioned ice cube trays, or foam plastic egg cartons, and thawed as needed.

Begin with two tablespoons each evening followed by one 6 to 8 ounce glass of water or juice. After 7 to 10 days increase it to four tablespoons. You should begin to see an improvement in your bowel habits in two weeks. You should make this a part of your daily routine for your lifetime. It is good for you.

When you begin using the Special Recipe, remember it is high fibre. You may be troubled by gas and bloating, but this should go away in several weeks.


Obesity is a dangerous health problem. It also contributes to incontinence in females. All women should do pelvic muscle exercises to maintain bladder control throughout their lifetime. HIP has a one-page explanation of these exercises and an audio cassette and booklet for further coaching.

Cigarette smoking is irritating to the bladder surface. Smoking is also associated with bladder surface. Smoking is also associated with bladder cancer. Coughing associated with smoking may lead to stress incontinence during coughing spasms. You should stop smoking today for these and many other reasons.

In older people and people limited by arthritis or other disabilities, it is important to:

Use the toilet regularly. Learn to toilet every 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours.
Wear clothes that are easy to get off when it is time to go to the toilet.
Remain on the toilet until your bladder empty. If you feel there is still some urine in the bladder, stand up and then sit back down again and lean forward slightly over the knees. This is called “double voiding” and may help you empty your bladder.
Make the toilet facilities convenient. This may mean a bedside commode, bedpan, or urinal placed conveniently near or in the bed.
Empty your bladder before you start on a journey of an hour or more. Don’t try to “wait until I get home to my own bathroom.”

Incontinence means loss of bowel or bladder control. There are many causes for incontinence. Please see a physician who specialises in the treatment of bladder control problems. For more information please call our help-line.