There is so much information out there when it comes to eating for Interstitial Cystitis.
There is truth that eating the right foods will help you feel better. The flip side, eating the wrong foods will make you feel worse and lead to more flares. And what makes it confusing is some of the healthiest foods can be triggers. What works for one person may not work for someone else.
Eating for IC looks different for each person based on their biochemistry and co-conditions. If you're new to IC, I am mentioning the most common known food irritants for the bladder.
Common bladder triggers -
· Citrus foods
· Spicy foods
· Vinegar, pickles and fermented foods
· Cured, deli, and smoked meats - (nitrates)
As you begin to become aware of foods that may be causing pain a good practice is to start reading labels. It's best to avoid anything with long ingredient lists that looks foreign.
If your goal is to reduce inflammation and feel better, your best options will be choosing whole foods closest to their natural states such as produce, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meats and poultry. A good rule of thumb when buying food in a package is look for 6 ingredients or less that you recognize.
Other trigger foods to consider -
Sugar – sugar creates inflammation. Its addictive properties make it challenging to stay away. I found the easiest way to reduce cravings was to replace with sweet alternatives like fruit. The Paleo style of eating is an easy dietary swap to experiment with. You can find hundreds of Paleo recipes on Instagram or Pinterest.
Natural sugar alternatives – coconut sugar, raw honey, 100% maple syrup, and monk fruit. Remember these are sugar just a healthier version so keep intake low.
Salad dressings loaded with added sugar and vinegar.
Salad dressing alternatives – Infused oils - Garlic, Oregano, Pesto, Basil, and more. You can make your own or order online. I’m fortunate enough to find these at our local Cook Nook gourmet shop. Other alternatives are avocado or olive oil with lemon squeeze.
Carrageenans & Guar Gum - Many people choose alternative milks to replace conventional cow's milk. Rice, oat, and coconut milk usually contain Carrageenans, Xanthum and Guar gum. These are problematic especially for IBS and they raise histamine levels. There are brands available without gums and you can order online from Thrive or VitaCost.
Sauces – Teriyaki, soy, orange chicken sauce, and barbeque sauce are bladder irritants and usually contain high amounts of sugar. Most sauces also have MSG.
Gluten - pro-inflammatory and raises Zonulin levels eventually leading to leaky gut. You don’t have to be experiencing outward symptoms, inflammation can be occurring inside without you knowing it.
GMO foods – Genetically modified foods, also known as genetically engineered foods, or bioengineered foods are foods produced from organisms that have had changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering
Look on the back of Lay’s potato chips and you’ll find it’s genetically modified. It may be a good idea to look on the back of the label in your pantry and identify how many boxed/packaged foods are marked GMO in small print on the back.
· Corn – one of the biggest known sprayed foods
· Canola oil
· Dairy products
· Sugar beets
· Potatoes – Lays mentioned above – check your chips!
Are you among those following the latest crazes such as bone broth or celery juice drinks? Both of these while healthy may not be the best choice if you have not identified the root cause behind your bladder symptoms. Celery is high oxalate and high fodmap. An 8 oz glass may be too much your body depending on where you’re at on your healing journey.
Bone broth while good for gut healing is also very high histamine. Some may have issues with the glutamine.
Use the Dirty Dozen produce list when buying produce. Choosing organic for the produce known to be sprayed the most with pesticides and herbicides. You want to avoid Glyphosate. You can find the dirty dozen list at ewg.org.
The best way to find out your triggers is to –
Track your food by keeping a food diary. It can be challenging because food intolerances can show up 72 hours after eating, so you may need to work with someone to help you.
If you are reacting to foods and seem to be getting worse then consider working with someone that can help you identify what other conditions you have.
Eliminating common food triggers is a first step you can take to start feeling better. If you're interested in finding out how a Functional Medicine Health Coach can help you put your IC into remission, take up my free 20 minute Consultation offer.