Most of us don't learn about our urinary system until much later in life – and only after problems arise. Given that we all go to the bathroom multiple times a day, it’s a little silly that we aren't introduced to our inner filtration workings at a much earlier age.
The urinary system, like every system in the body, is very vulnerable to stress. What we eat, how we care for ourselves, our mental health, medications – even our gut health – all impact the tone and function of our bladder, kidneys, and urethra.
So here are a few pointers that we have found to be extremely beneficial for bladder health, because whether you are one of the millions suffering from regular UTIs or not, everyone deserves to feel energized!
Stay proactive and flush away bacteria with Cranberex. Bacteria love multiplying and they do so quickly. When it comes to UTI prevention and treatment, it is essential to create an environment that is inhospitable to harmful bacteria. Reducing sugar intake, keeping our healthy bacteria fed with ample fiber and gut friendly pre and probiotics, and incorporating the unique antioxidants found only in cranberries are all powerful ways to support urinary health.
Proanthocyanidins, or PACs as they are called, are cranberry actives that coat the lining of the entire urinary tract and prevent harmful bacteria from adhering and multiplying. Working via a highly concentrated 200:1 extraction process, the powerful anti-adhesion activity in cranberries is harnessed and unleashed in every capsule of our Cranberex 36 PAC. Safe for long-term use and confirmed by two clinical studies, her vital way’s Cranberex® 36 mg PAC Urinary Health Support is recommended by urologists, naturopaths, and pharmacists nationwide as a convenient and highly effective herbal supplement.
Avoiding foods and drinks that can have an irritating effect on the bladder. When the bladder is irritated its functionality is compromised. Overactivity, leakage, and a false sense of urgency are all signs that the bladder needs calming. Limiting one’s intake of known bladder irritants like preservatives, artificial colors, caffeinated and carbonated beverages, chocolate, vinegar, orange juice, tomato-based foods, or alcoholic beverages for even one week can make a substantial difference in the functional health of the bladder. Look at your diet and if you’re consuming these irritants regularly, it’s time to make some changes.
Increase water intake. You’ve heard it before, and we can’t stress this one enough – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! During the frigid winter months, it’s easy to forget about drinking enough water. One way to help with this is to set timers as reminders and to keep the body warm by drinking water that’s slightly cooled from the kettle about 10 minutes before each meal. If we do not have proper fluid intake, our body cannot effectively eliminate waste. Drink water don’t gulp it and try to have your last glass 2 hours before bedtime.
Double void and don’t hold it. It’s important to use the bathroom when you need to – ignoring the urge to pee will not strengthen the bladder! Rather than being annoyed that you have to pee again, use the time to take a break and exhale from the busyness of the day. This slight change alone can improve bladder function; when we’re in a hurry, we don’t do anything well. UTIs at every age are linked to an incomplete emptying of the bladder. When urine sits in the bladder for long periods of time, bacteria multiply. To make sure that you are eliminating as efficiently as possible – try double voiding.
Best for women who are over the age of 40, who have delivered or had a hysterectomy, and for men who have an enlarged prostate, double voiding does wonders for improving bladder health. Two methods that we have found to be the most effective both involve taking a little bit more time and being slightly more cognizant than usual.
The first is to simply pee twice, but with a pause in between. Pee as usual and then stand up, sit down, move around and pee again, only this time in a more relaxed state. The second approach involves physically adjusting to fully empty the bladder and is extremely effective for prolapsed bladders. After urinating, lean forward with elbows on your knees so that you are slightly coming off the back of the toilet, then lean forward and to your right (while staying positioned over the hole) and urinate again to empty the bladder completely. It takes a little practice to get it exactly right, but it is well worth the effort. Double voiding is a game-changer.
Keep stress at bay. The muscles in the pelvic floor tense up every time we do, and the nerves throughout our body impact how our bladder stores and empties urine. Every part of our body is highly attuned to where we are emotionally. Staying in a stressed, fight-or-flight state causes the body to constantly be tense with an adrenaline-filled stream of nerve messages that stimulate our need to pee. Deep breathing, meditation, time in nature, not constantly multitasking, and slowing down all help to calm our nerves and our nervous signals. Reducing stress regularly throughout the day improves our bladder health and our overall health in profound and sustaining ways.
Support balanced blood sugar. When there is too much sugar in our blood, the kidneys must work hard to get rid of it. Eating enough protein, whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats at regular intervals throughout the day and proper exercise (so our muscles can help the body use glucose, the body’s sugar, as energy) are all fabulous ways to support balanced blood sugar and kidney health. Protect and preserve kidney and urinary health by avoiding processed, highly sweetened, or empty calory foods as much as possible. Less waste means less work for our eliminatory systems.
How do we unpack the above? And what is the key takeaway? During times of stress, be wise and kind to the body. If you have a history of urinary issues and a week is particularly stressful for you then stay away from foods that are irritating, drink plenty of water, take Cranberex, exhale and be mindful with everything you do (even going pee) and try – whenever possible – to counter the stress with little acts of calm. We tend to always look to the big changes that need to be made while overlooking the incremental, daily tweaks and adjustments that are easier to implement and just as impactful. Stress is a part of life, but how we respond to it and how we manage it is up to us.