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How does nutrition affect my pelvic health?

Monday, Feb. 19, 2018
water with lemons

What's good for us, what's bad, the latest "super-food" to add to your diet etc., we see it all over mainstream media. Diet is a popular topic of discussion but have you stopped to think about how nutrition may be affecting your pelvic health? It plays a larger role than you might think in maintaining a strong and healthy pelvic floor.

Let's talk about bladder infections. A bladder infection is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI), meaning it can affect the bladder, kidneys, ureters or the urethra. When bacteria enter the urethra and moves into the bladder, this causes an infection, and the bacteria responsible for most bladder infections is E. coli. A natural way for the body to remove toxins or bacteria is by urination. However, if the body is overwhelmed with the amount of bacteria present, such as E. coli, then it has difficulty destroying the bacteria, which can then attach itself to the walls of the bladder. Many women are infected with bladder infections every year and for some it is a chronic issue.

But why? "Researchers have detected multi-drug resistant strains of E. coli in chicken meat resistant to some of our most powerful antibiotics." Now for those who favor chicken don't fret. Our bodies are equipped with good bacteria that can fight it but how often you eat chicken will impact how much chicken bacteria are in your gut - by frequently re-introducing it to your system. If you are someone who suffers from chronic bladder infections, then limiting or removing chicken from your diet, might be a necessary step. Interestingly enough, beef and pork are significantly less likely to harbor bladder-infecting strains than chicken - so it's not in all meat equally.

Bladder and bowel irritants include alcohol, acidic fruits/veggies, spicy foods, artificial sugar and sweeteners, caffeinated beverages (coffee and tea) and carbonated beverages (pop, flavored water). Food or drink in this category can contribute to damage of the bladder lining and disrupt stability of bowel and bladder function. Think moderation and take caution if you suffer from symptoms of bladder or anal incontinence. 

woman looking in mirror

There are various nutritional factors that contribute to optimal pelvic health:

  • Stay hydrated – drink water to help with digestion and flushing out toxins.
  • Add cranberries and blueberries to your diet – epicatechin is an antioxidant found in both that can help prevent recurrent UTI’s. Skip the juice and take cranberry pills if you are concerned about sugar content.
  • Low acidic fruits and veggies – provide the body with nutrients without irritation to the pelvic floor (bananas, melons, grapes, broccoli, carrots, beets)
  • Take a probiotic for urogenital health 
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – naturally decreases inflammation
  • Avoid sugary foods and beverages – refined sugar creates an environment in which bacteria thrive
  • Avoid chicken – exposes you to E. coli bacteria that is responsible for most bladder infections

Strive for a well-balanced diet that is pelvic floor friendly. Challenge yourself to be conscious of the food and drinks you consume; incorporate more of the good and reduce the bad.

Sources: Michael Greger M.D. FACLM. January 28th, 2014. How Avoiding Chicken Could Prevent Bladder Infections. https://nutritionfacts.org/2014/01/28/how-avoiding-chicken-could-prevent...

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