Woman resting hands over groin area depicting bladder incontinence

Q & A: Boosting bladder health

I’m a 52-year-old woman and every time I laugh, cough or sneeze I suffer from bladder incontinence. This is having an adverse effect on my life and I’m really distressed. Can you help please?”

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer answers.

I’m so sorry to hear of your bladder problems; unfortunately they’re very common, particularly in women going through the menopause. The good news is there are a number of lifestyle and nutritional strategies that might help.

First, it’s vital that you do regular pelvic floor exercises. Do them at any time of the day, even when you’re in the car or sitting on a bus! It’s also important to try to avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks and refined and processed foods as chemicals in foods and drinks can have an adverse effect on the bladder. Additionally make sure you have a wee every two to three hours and don’t delay empting your bladder.

Nutritionally, make sure you’re eating protein at every meal; this will complement your pelvic floor exercises in keeping good muscle strength. The minerals calcium and magnesium work together and help control bladder spasms – try to eat plenty of leafy-green vegetables and dairy produce to ensure sufficient intake. Taking a supplement containing around 1,000mg of calcium and 350mg of magnesium daily can be beneficial too.

Zinc can also help improve bladder muscle function; seafood, eggs and whole grains are good sources and taking a supplement with around 15mg of zinc daily has benefits too. And last but not least, drink at least 1.5 litres of pure water a day, which will help keep the bladder cleansed and reduce bladder spasms.