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Hold your water

While on the road, you often find yourself miles away from the next rest area; so, it’s necessary to be able to hold your water. You already know that a healthy bladder is important.

While on the road, you often find yourself miles away from the next rest area; so, it’s necessary to be able to hold your water. You already know that a healthy bladder is important.

Your bladder, a pear-shaped, hollow, muscular organ that sits on the pelvic floor, has two main functions: to collect the urine that has been filtered by the kidneys and to excrete it. Since it has the ability to stretch and shrink, the bladder can hold changing quantities of liquid. Typically, an adult bladder can hold almost two cups of urine.

The detruser muscle around the bladder squeezes the bladder to empty it. The sphincter muscles around the urethra keep the opening closed until it is time to release the urine. A normal, healthy bladder should empty completely every time you urinate with no leakage in between.

Because of the nature of your work, you may have developed some habits that affect your bladder’s health and/or effectiveness.

Consider the following eight questions. Do you: drink less than six to eight cups of liquid a day?; get up more than once each night to urinate?; urinate more than eight times during 24 hours?; consistently use the washroom ‘just in case’?; get a sudden urge to pass urine?; experience stress-incontinence when you laugh, cough, sneeze or exercise?; leak before you reach the bathroom?; regularly strain and push to move your bowels?

If you answered yes to most of them, it’s time to review your habits.

Drink enough fluid each day. If you don’t, your bladder will get used to holding smaller amounts of urine and may become sensitive. As well, your urine (and the toxins in it) will become concentrated and irritate your bladder. If you usually drink just a little, increase your consumption until you reach the six to eight glasses per day range.

Maintain your bladder capacity. You can actually decrease your bladder capacity by urinating before necessary, so it is best to hold your urine for as long as comfortably possible. When urinating, let the urine drain naturally, without pushing or straining.

Take the time to ensure your bladder empties completely; then, you won’t store bacteria or toxins for an extended time, which will help prevent urinary tract infections.

Keep your urine slightly acidic to reduce bladder infections since bacteria thrive in alkaline environments. Some signs of a urinary tract infection are any sudden: onset of incontinence or frequency and urgency; burning and discomfort when urinating; blood in the urine; and strong smelling or cloudy urine. To avoid this painful condition, add Vitamin C-rich foods, especially cranberry juice to your regular diet. Certainly, anyone taking medication, particularly anticoagulants, or with diabetes should check with a doctor first as some fruit juices affect how your body absorbs medications.

Limit your intake of any foods or liquids that seem to irritate your bladder. Some common irritants are: chocolate, tomatoes, citrus, spicy foods, tea, coffee, colas, alcohol and diet drinks with artificial sweeteners like Aspartame or Saccharine. If you notice taking a Vitamin C supplement irritates your bowel, try an Ester C product. Please note that the acid in some fruit juices can irritate the bladder lining, so monitor what you eat and drink to identify if any foods cause discomfort.

Maintain the strength in the muscles in your pelvic floor to retain good bladder control. Kegel exercises, where you start and stop your urine flow, will specifically strengthen these muscles. Regular physical exercise will keep your abdominal muscles strong to properly support your bladder and other internal organs which is vital for you because of all the bouncing you experience driving down the roads.

Avoid constipation to reduce the pressure on your bladder. Maintain a high fiber level in your diet by including whole grains and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily intake.

Eat vegetables and fruits that are loaded with nutrients that promote bladder health. They contain Vitamin C, Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, fiber and powerful antioxidants. The vegetables and fruits that especially enhance bladder health include cranberries, blueberries, bananas, blackberries, raspberries, mustard greens, turnips, cabbage, beans, yams, strawberries, carrots and sweet potatoes.

Enjoy the Omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts, fish and certain oils. They can benefit bladder health because they reduce inflammation. Most bladder or urinary disorders cause swelling and/or infection. Specific examples of omega-3 rich-foods include lake trout, salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, halibut, sardines, Brazil nuts, almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, safflower oil, sunflower oil and canola oil.

Add yogurt to your diet; it appears to significantly reduce a person’s chance of getting bladder cancer. In contrast, avoid smoking; smoking significantly increases your chances and has been implicated in almost 50% of bladder cancer diagnoses. Make these lifestyle adjustments to improve your bladder health now and down the road.

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