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Weight, infection risk, skin condition and digestion are factors that influence your bladder. Learn about the sources for a balanced diet.

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Photo: Glenn Carstens-Peters/Unsplash

Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures – going well beyond survival and satisfying hunger. We share and give food, and mealtimes are often the events where family or friends come together. Meals can also be both symbolic and part of a ritual.

We can all allow ourselves to ‘sin’ occasionally as long as we eat healthy on a daily basis. When you have a medical condition it is even more relevant to look at what you put on your plate and in your glass.

Eating quality and nutritious food and drinking sufficient fluids may help to:

 

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce the risk of developing lifestyle diseases
  • Fight infections
  • Assist in the management of heart disease and diabetes
  • Keep the skin healthy
  • Encourage regular bowel and bladder function
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Here are some of the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy diet

Protein

Good for:
Building muscles, repairing tissue, fighting illness and disease, carrying nutrients through the body and producing hormones, to name just a few.

How much:
This depends on your weight and your activity level (exercise). Ask your doctor how much is ideal for you, as too much protein is not healthy.

Best sources:
Lean meat, chicken and fish, eggs, dried beans, and nuts.

Vitamins and Minerals

Good for:

Supporting normal body function and preventing disease. The different vitamins and minerals each have different roles; some may help heal wounds, bolster your immune system, convert food into energy and much more. Many effects are gained from different vitamins and minerals interacting.

How much:

For many people, a minimum of 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day is recommended, which also ensures that you get enough fiber. Fiber is important to avoid constipation, which may have a negative impact on your bladder health.

Best sources:

Fruit and vegetables are best, but it can be found in many types of food. If you ensure variation to your diet, you would normally get what you need. If in doubt, supply with vitamin and mineral tablets. Always consult with your healthcare provider first.

Fibre

Good for:

The right amount of fibre is important to establish and maintain stools and avoid constipation, which can have a negative effect on your bladder.

How much:

The US national recommendations are 30-38 grams a day for men and 21-25 grams a day for women.

Best sources:

Fruit and vegetables, pasta, rice, whole wheat bread

Fluids

Good for:

When increasing your intake of fiber, it is important that you drink enough fluids, normally around 6-8-oz glasses a day (1.5-2 liters). Base your fluid intake on water, but you can count other types of beverages in your fluid intake for the day. Not drinking enough can worsen your bladder and bowel symptoms.

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Note: Content sponsored by Coloplast. These are general guidelines meant to help you with typical questions. You should follow the specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider and the intermittent catheterization solution you are using.

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Showing 2 comments
  • John Wellings

    Is it possible to alleviate bowel disorders brought on as a side effect of medication (ie: heart medication) through diet maintenance? What foods aggravate bowel disorders and what foods help to alleviate bowel disorders?

    • Jocelyn

      Hi John,
      Great question. Diet is a key way that gastrointestinal side effects of medications are managed. Assuming you also have a spinal cord injury, it’s a good idea to speak with an SCI-familiar clinician such as Bonnie Nybo, the outpatient SCI nurse at GF Strong centre, who may be able to help you identify whether your complications are more SCI or side-effect related. A Physiatrist (rehab medicine doc) would also be a good person to consult. In the community, pharmacists can be valuable allies in identifying side effects of medications and recommending strategies to deal with them. They may also be able to suggest a change to your regimen that would prevent or lessen the side effects you are experiencing.
      As to diet, your strategy will depend on the type of bowel trouble you’re having. For ongoing diarrhea related to medications (that is, not connected to more serious issues like a gastrointestinal illness or obstruction), slowly increase your soluble fibre intake (oats, barley, etc.) and ensure you are drinking enough water to replace the fluid you are losing through frequent bowel movements. Staying away from bowel irritants like spicy foods, coffee, and excessive amounts of sugar (whether natural or even moderate amounts of sugar replacements like mannitol, sorbitol, etc., too much sugar intake can cause diarrhea).
      For constipation, soluble and insoluble fibre is helpful – getting enough fruits and veg in your diet regularly every day and LOTS of water. Just between you and me, check out this guide on the soon-to-be released GF Strong/SCI BC rehab guide LivingWithSCI.ca – Try this chapter on bowel management for some useful troubleshooting tips for dealing with bowel complications, just scroll down to the section on Dealing with Bowel Complications. https://livingwithsci.ca/bowel-management/#problem-solving – if you need some more pointers, give Bert a buzz on our Infoline: info@sci-bc.ca or 1800-689-2477, Monday-Friday, 9-5.

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