Have you noticed all the ads and products in the “bladder control aisle” in the market? Adult diapers and incontinence products now sell more than infant diapers. About 20 percent of adults over 65 have lost some degree of bladder control. Rather than assume this is because of age, it’s important to wonder why this problem is occurring. Just like nutrition and diet plays a key role in vision,hearing, and brain health, it also is an important factor in healthy bladder control.
Common Factors That Affect Bladder Control
Urinary continence, that is the voluntary ability to hold urine in your bladder without leakage, is something that most take for granted - until they run into issues. Loss of urinary control is affected by older age and other factors unrelated to advanced age including pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, larger waist size, obesity, prostate enlargement, some medications, urinary tract infections, and constipation. Increased bladder leakage concerns occur with other health challenges like asthma, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, depression, urinary tract infections, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Bladder control issues are linked with autonomic nervous system “tone” changes, bladder muscle sensitivity, endothelial and vascular dysfunction, chronic inflammation, and increased oxidative stress. In premenopausal women, lower estrogen and progesterone levels affect collagen in the bladder. This may contribute to stress urinary leakage.
Various foods, beverages, and medications can challenge bladder control. Alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, chili peppers, citrus fruit, spicy foods, and blood pressure and heart medications, muscle relaxers, and sedatives may also be a trigger.
High fat/high calorie diets contribute to poor urinary control. A study that involved 5800 women, 40 years of age and older, evaluated bladder control issues with diet and nutrient status. Those who consumed a high fat diet (total fat, saturated fats, and monounsaturated fats) for one year, were more likely to experience stress incontinence.
Trans-fats, white flour, white sugar, processed foods, high vegetable oil intake, alcohol, soda pop and other sugar rich beverages contribute to diet-induced inflammation. A pro-inflammatory diet has been related to higher incidence of urinary incontinence in women 20-65 years old.
Environmental Toxins Affect Bladder Control
An emerging body of evidence also points to environmental toxins like Bisphenol A (BPA) and other compounds like polycholorinated biphenyls (PCB) affecting bladder control. Animal studies showed that chemical exposures during preborn and early infancy development of male offspring changed bladder function later in life.
Think about the plastics and plasticizers in your environment. They are everywhere and are even likely hiding in bladder control products used for infants and adults.