While many of us are not always thinking about our bladder health, this month serves as a reminder to get the facts about common bladder health problems and to take an active role in taking care of our health. Your bladder — a hollow organ that holds urine from your kidneys — is one of those body parts that you probably don’t think about until it stops working properly. Two common health problems affecting the bladder are urinary incontinence, which touches more than 25 million people in the U.S. and overactive bladder (OAB), which effects over 33 million adults in the U.S.
Bladder Health Tips
While bladder health is not often top of mind, there are ways to keep your bladder healthier year-round. Below are a number of tips to help keep your bladder in good shape.
Drink plenty of water
- Drinking too little fluid can lead to increased amounts of body waste products in your urine.
- Highly concentrated urine is dark yellow and has a strong smell. It can irritate your bladder, increasing the urge and frequency with which you need to go.
- Drink 6 to 8 cups of water each day. Rather than drink a large amount all at once, try drinking smaller amounts throughout the day.
- Limit your intake of coffee, tea or cola as these can heighten bladder activity and lead to leakage
- Although water is best for your bladder, remember that fluids come from any beverage you drink and from foods such as soup.
Use good bathroom habits
- It is normal to go to the bathroom 4 to 8 times
a day and no more than twice a night
- If you have to get up several times at night to urinate, try drinking more of your fluids in the morning and afternoon, and eliminate alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
- Women should sit to go to the toilet – they should not hover over the toilet seat
- Take your time when on the toilet so that your bladder can empty – if you rush, and do not empty your bladder fully, you could get a bladder infection over time.
Stay away from foods that bother the bladder
- Some foods can worsen incontinence. Skip foods like chocolate (which is also a source of caffeine), as well as spicy or acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits
- You might not have to eliminate your favorite foods entirely. Simply cutting down on the amount might help, too.
Look after your pelvic floor muscles
- Keep your pelvic floor muscles strong with pelvic floor muscle training.
- One of the many reasons to stop smoking is for your bladder health – using tobacco is a major cause of bladder cancer.
Stir-Fried Bok Choy or Sturdy Greens
Bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage, is a common ingredient in many Asian-inspired recipes, including stir-fries, slaws and hot pots. Bok choy is also a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C, and contains folate, calcium, iron and fiber. This recipe works equally well with collards or whatever sturdy greens you have on hand.
- 12 to 16ounces bok choy. Other sturdy greens, like collards or a packaged Southern greens mix, work equally well
- ¼cup chicken broth or water
- 1tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry (optional)
- 2teaspoons soy sauce
- ¼teaspoon cornstarch
- 1tablespoon peanut or canola oil
- 3garlic cloves, minced
- 1slice ginger, smashed with the flat side of a chef’s knife or minced
- Salt to taste
- ¼teaspoon sugar
- 1 to 2teaspoons sesame seeds, to taste
- If using bok choy, trim off the bottoms and separate into stalks. Rinse if necessary and drain on paper towels. Cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces. If using collard greens, stem, discard stems and chop the leaves coarsely. Bring an inch of water to a boil in the bottom of a steamer, and place the bok choy or greens in the steamer basket. Steam 1 minute, remove from the heat and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out excess water and drain on a kitchen towel.
- Combine the broth or water, rice wine or sherry, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl and place within arm’s reach of your pan. Have the remaining ingredients measured out and near the pan.
- Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or a 12-inch skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in the oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan, then add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 10 seconds, until fragrant. Add the bok choy or greens, sprinkle with salt and the sugar, and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Stir the cornstarch mixture and swirl into the wok, then stir-fry 1 minute, or until the greens are just tender. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Remove from the heat and serve.