Which dietary modifications are used in the treatment of urinary incontinence?

Updated: Jan 22, 2021
  • Author: Sandip P Vasavada, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Certain foods in a daily diet can worsen symptoms of urinary frequency and urge incontinence. If a patient's diet contains dietary stimulants, changes in the diet may help in ameliorating incontinence symptoms.

Dietary stimulants are substances contained within the food or drink that either cause or exacerbate irritative voiding symptoms. By eliminating or minimizing the intake of dietary stimulants, unwanted bladder symptoms can be improved or possibly cured.

Avoidance of dietary stimulants begins with consumer awareness through careful label reading and maintaining a daily diet diary. Experimenting with dietary changes is not appropriate for everyone and should be carried out on an individual basis.

A placebo-controlled pilot study in 56 postmenopausal women 50 years or older with urgency urinary incontinence and vitamin D insufficiency (serum vitamin 25-hydroxyvitamin D level 30 ng/mL or less) found that vitamin D supplementation significantly reduced incontinence episodes in black women only, although a beneficial trend was evident overall. The authors recommend further study of vitamin D3 supplementation particularly in women at high risk. [114]


Spicy foods may contribute to urge incontinence. Some examples of hot spices include curry, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, and dry mustard. A few medical reports have indicated that the avoidance of spicy foods may have a beneficial effect on urinary incontinence.

A second food group that may worsen irritative voiding symptoms is citrus fruit. Fruits and juices that have an acidic pH worsen preexisting urge incontinence. Examples of fruits that have significant acidity include grapefruits, oranges, limes, and lemons.

A third food group that may worsen urinary bladder incontinence is chocolate-containing sweets. Chocolate snacks and treats contain caffeine, which is a bladder-irritating agent. Excessive intake of chocolate confectioneries worsens irritative bladder symptoms.

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