IC Awareness Daily Fact #6

One of the easiest ways for patients to try to reduce their bladder and prostate discomfort is by removing foods which are high in acid, alcohol or hot spices. Even one cup of coffee day, one green tea or one soda can trigger severe bladder irritation and discomfort. Worse, that daily acid wash may prevent bladder healing and IC treatments to be effective.

OTHER ingredients notorious for causing problems??

  • CAFFEINE – Caffeine acts as a diuretic, stimulating more frequent urination and also causes urine to become more concentrated with urea and ammonia. All caffeinated products (coffees, teas, green teas, energy drinks, etc.) should be stopped immediately.
  • ACIDIC FOODS – Foods high in acid (i.e. citrus fruits and juices, cranberry, vinegar) create irritation in much the same way that acid poured on a wound on your hand would feel. It hurts! Cranberries, for example, contain quinic, malic and citric acid which may help us understand why cranberry juice is irritating for most of us.
  • ALCOHOL – In an ICN Survey, beer, wine and spirits bothered roughly 95% patients though there is some wiggle room with lower acid varieties.
  • POTASSIUM – Some, but not all, patients may struggle with high potassium foods though research studies have found that bananas and yams, both high in potassium, are usually bladder soothing. Try small amounts of high potassium foods to see if you tolerate them well.
  • HISTAMINE – Researchers have found that the bladders of IC patients have high numbers of activated mast cells. These mast cells have released histamine which then provokes an allergenic reaction in the bladder, triggering frequency, urgency and/or pain. Not surprisingly, foods high in histamine, such as chocolate and red wine, are well known to trigger bladder discomfort.
  • ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS – Both research studies and patient stories have confirmed that most artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, etc.) appear to be bladder irritating, particularly aspartame (i.e. NutraSweet®). Most diet products, such as sugar free iced tea or soda, should be avoided.
  • MSG, NITRITES & NITRATES – MSG is a mast cell degranulator and for patients sensitive or allergic to it, can cause rash, hives, asthma and sudden diarrhea known as”Chinese restaurant syndrome.” IC patients have long reported that foods containing high levels of MSG and/or nitrates trigger bladder symptoms and discomfort, thus we suggest avoiding these foods whenever possible.
  • VITAMINS & SUPPLEMENTS – Both patients and research report that multivitamins can trigger bladder symptoms due, most likely, to high levels of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and Vitamin B6. Unless you have a medical condition that requires using a multivitamin, we suggest that you avoid vitamin supplements and waters in favor of eating fresh foods and vegetables.
  • CHOCOLATE – Chocolate contains several ingredients that have the potential to exacerbate IC symptoms: theobromine, caffeine, phenylethylamine, tannins and oxalates. Well known for triggering migraine headaches, IC patients often report flares from eating chocolates, particularly cheaper milk chocolate products


Patients may also have individual and often unpredictable reactions to various foods.

Learn more about the IC and Prostatitis diet here!