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Best Foods for a Healthy Bladder (and a Natural UTI Remedy)

May 23, 2024

If you’ve ever suffered the discomfort of a urinary tract infection, you’re not alone: More than half of women will have one in their lifetime. Plus, millions of people suffer from interstitial cystitis, a bladder condition that causes urinary urgency, frequent trips to the bathroom, and pelvic pain. We don’t talk about these issues much, as common as they are. But there is a silver lining: We can eat and drink certain foods to support bladder health, and avoid others. Plus, one you’re probably already eating can serve as a natural UTI remedy.

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How does diet affect UTIs?

Food not only makes its way through your digestive system, but your urinary tract as well. “What we put in our mouths is going to be excreted out of our body, and some of that excretion will be the urine,” says bladder health expert Callie Krajcir, MS, RD. Choosing the right foods and drinks — and avoiding some others — can bring significant relief for cystitis. Trigger foods can vary from person to person, but if you suffer from urinary problems, try this list of bladder friends and foes. 

Best foods and drinks for bladder health


Not surprisingly, the best beverage for your bladder is good old-fashioned H2O. “Hydration is key for bladder health,” Krajcir says. “If you have an already aggravated bladder, dehydration can cause more pain, frequency, or urgency.” Plus, dehydration puts you at increased risk of developing a urinary tract infection. 

And you don’t have to down a ton of water all at once. “I tell my clients to sip on water all day and avoid chugging or going long periods without water,” says Krajcir. 

Herbal tea

“A variation of water that many people with IC find soothing is herbal tea,” says Krajcir. 

When you reach for a tea bag, be sure to choose something without caffeine. “I recommend marshmallow root, peppermint, and chamomile teas to soothe an irritated bladder,” she says.


Constipation can aggravate the bladder by adding increased pressure and preventing efficient emptying. So eating foods that are high in fiber can be helpful not only for staying regular, but also for maintaining bladder health. The American Urological Association (AUA) recommends pears, and bananas, too. 

Related: RD-Approved High Fiber Snacks for a Healthy Gut


Bread is another low-irritation food for your bladder, according to the AUA. Make it whole grain to boost your fiber intake and minimize inflammation. Research shows that including more whole grains in your diet can reduce inflammatory markers.

A natural UTI remedy: Garlic

In terms of a natural UTI remedy, garlic shows promise. Research indicates that it may help fight certain strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Allicin, one of the active compounds in garlic, may be the key to its bacteria-fighting ability, and it’s available as a supplement. (Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any new supplements.)

Foods and drinks to avoid for bladder health


During periods of bladder distress, you’ll want to steer clear of alcohol, which is a well-known bladder irritant. According to Krajcir, this is because it’s a diuretic. “This means it will make you urinate more and lead to dehydration and concentrated urine, which can further irritate an already ‘angry’ bladder,” she says. Stick to some tasty non-carbonated mocktails instead.

Related: 15 Drinks to Help You Relax If You’re Cutting Out Alcohol

Citrus fruits

Though they’re healthy and delicious, citrus fruits are not your friend when your bladder is inflamed. Lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit can all stress out your urinary tract.

Though the conventional wisdom has been that citric acid in these fruits is the reason for bladder irritation, that may not be the case for everyone. “The research hasn’t yet explained why citrus fruits and juices are common bladder irritants,” Krajcir says. “One theory is that the lining of the bladder is damaged, and different irritants can easily reach the nerves and irritate them, leading to symptoms of pain, frequency, and/or urgency.” She also notes that these fruits contain lots of vitamin C, which can be a trigger for some people with interstitial cystitis. 


If you’re a coffee drinker, you know the feeling of urgency that accompanies your favorite brew. Like alcohol, coffee is a diuretic, Krajcir says. Its caffeine content is a culprit here — but it isn’t the only one. “Coffee is a bit of a double whammy because in addition to caffeine, it contains acid, which can also be bothersome to an irritated bladder,” she notes.

For this reason, switching to decaf may help somewhat, but probably won’t make coffee an ideal beverage for your bladder. When you’re craving a warm drink, stick to herbal tea instead.

Carbonated drinks

Unfortunately, bubbles and bladders aren’t a good mix. Carbonated drinks like soda, sparkling water, and fizzy juices can all cause urinary irritation. In an older study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, for example, women who increased their soda intake had more lower urinary tract symptoms. The Interstitial Cystitis Association lists soda as a top food to avoid with this condition.

The takeaway

Eating well for urinary health doesn’t necessarily mean following a super restrictive diet. “Sometimes when a doctor recommends a specific diet, like the [interstitial cystitis] diet, it creates food fear and leads people to over-restrict their diet and develop nutrient deficiencies. This is not what we want,” Krajcir notes. Instead, she encourages working with your doc or dietitian on a food elimination and reintroduction plan. “Once you’ve identified your diet triggers, then you’ll know which specific foods to avoid to prevent further flare-ups of symptoms.” 

Read next: The 7 Best Gut Healing Foods, Says a Dietitian

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