Bladder Health


The bladder is a hollow organ about the size of a grapefruit and its main purpose is to store urine that has been process by the kidneys.

The bladder expands as it fills and can hold up to two cups of urine, but most people start to feel the urge to urinate when it’s about 25% full.

Most people don’t think too much about their bladders, but when it isn’t as healthy as it should be it can cause some uncomfortable symptoms.

To keep the bladder healthy there are some lifestyle habits that can be of benefit: 

1. Make sure you empty your bladder properly when you go to the bathroom.

Too many of us are in a hurry to get back to what we’re doing and don’t empty our bladders properly. When we stop urinating too soon, the bladder muscles tighten and push the urine that wasn’t excreted back into the bladder, which can cause bacteria to re-enter the bladder and increases the risk for bladder infections. It’s also not a good idea to hold our urine for too long because this also increases the risk for infection. Women are generally more prone to bladder infections as well as a condition called interstitial cystitis, which causes bladder pain and irritation.

2. Drink enough water

Drinking enough water is necessary to flush bacteria out of the bladder and to prevent the formation of kidney stones. Too little water intake can dehydrate our bodies and the highly concentrated urine can irritate the bladder, but we can also drink too much water which can increase the need to empty our bladder.  It’s best to drink water throughout the day rather than large quantities in one go.

3. Avoid bladder irritating foods and drinks

Some people struggle with an overactive bladder, which causes a strong urgency to urinate frequently. In men this can be due to an enlarged prostate and in men and women it can be due to the intake of bladder irritating foods and drinks. Excess caffeine is irritating to the bladder, so it is best to avoid coffee, tea, and fizzy drinks containing caffeine.

Other foods that can irritate the bladder include spicy foods, tomatoes, orange juice, vinegar, and alcohol. Tobacco can also irritate the bladder and increases the risk for bladder cancer.

4. Increase bladder friendly foods

A balanced diet is always good for our health, but some foods can be especially good for the bladder; and these include garlic, berries, and bananas.

Garlic has natural antibiotic properties so can help to fend off urinary tract infections.

Bananas are a great source of fiber and potassium which is necessary to keep the bowel regular and to flush the bladder. Irregular bowel movements cause a build-up of feces in the intestines which can put pressure on the bladder or restrict the flow of urine.

Berries are high in antioxidants and low in sugar so are good for overall health. Cranberries in particular are most commonly associated with bladder health and can be consumed in juice or supplement form to keep the bladder alkaline and to help prevent infections. D-mannose, which is a simple sugar that is found naturally in various plants, fruits, and berries such as cranberries can be used in supplemental form to help transport bacteria out of the bladder. Bacteria in the bladder can attach itself to the sugar molecule and can be more easily excreted through the urine.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 6 July 2023 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am