Not everyone with interstitial cystitis is prepared to follow a restricted diet, like the one I’ve outlined in the ‘Interstitial Cystitis Diet’. If you’re one of these people it is a good idea to have a look at the top 10 foods & drinks to avoid with interstitial cystitis I have listed below.
Although I really recommend following a healing protocol to send IC into remission, I understand that this is not always achievable.
Removing the worst offenders should provide relief from some of the symptoms.
Two studies have looked at what the most common trigger foods are for interstitial cystitis sufferers. Both came up with the same list of 1o foods and drinks.
- Citrus Fruit: is highly acidic and can be fire on an already inflamed bladder wall.
- Coffee: is a stimulant that can increase histamine output from mast cells (often one of the symptom triggers) and is also acidic.
- Tomatoes: are also acidic.
- Tea: also a stimulant and acidic.
- Soda: carbonated soda drinks are acidic and full of sugar, which is pro-inflammatory.
- Alcohol: is toxic to the body. It can really burn on an inflamed bladder wall and its by-products will be eliminated via the urine – potentially causing more inflammation.
- Artificial Sweeteners: aspartame especially turns into formaldehyde, a toxic chemical that is used industrially and can cause inflammation.
- Vitamin C: as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is very acidic. It is possible to buy a buffered form that is better tolerated.
- Spicy foods: they burn!
- Citrus juice: very acidic and also full of sugar!
If you there’s occasions where you are going to eat these foods, the use of calcium glycerophosphate and/or sodium bicarbonate may help to reduce sensitivity (as they are alkaline and can counteract acidity).
Have you experienced flare-ups after consuming any of these foods or drinks? Has cutting them out helped with symptoms? Let me know in the comments!
Pin it for later:
Shorter, B. et al Effect of comestibles on symptoms of interstitial cystitis. J Urol. 2007 [178(1):145-52] available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17499305
Bassaly, R. et al Dietary consumption triggers in interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome patients. Female Pelvic Med Reconstr Surg. 2011 Jan [17(1):36-9.] available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22453670
IMBJanuary 22, 2017
I have always thought that lemon juice, like sodium bicarbonate, produces an alkaline effect…Is that not true?
LaylaJanuary 23, 2017
Yes, I believe that is true because of the mineral content in lemons – i.e. their effect on cells in the body is alkaline. However, citrus still contains acids and as such can be very irritating on inflamed/damaged tissue (try rubbing lemon on a wound…).
LaurenDecember 23, 2017
I was diagnosed with IC about a year ago, and I’ve noticed I get flare ups after I drink wine. What’s strange is it only happens sometimes. The flare up I’m having now is particularly difficult though. It’s easy to feel like it wI’ll never end.
I am going to try the IC diet, starting off by eliminating the foods you mentioned here. I’ve looked up some recipes for bone broth, and am planning on making it ASAP. What’s interesting is the recipes I’ve found say to use vinegar (apple cider vinegar) in the ingredients. Is this okay? I’m fairly certain vinegar turns alkaline in the body, but I just want to make sure.
I want to say I really appreciate your writing because there is so much hopelessness and negativity surrounding this condition it’s unreal. Researching the topic has actually made my IC worse because it has raised my stress levels. I’ve realised through reading articles like yours that maintaining a positive attitude is an absolute must. I must believe in my
body’s power to heal itself. Thanks for giving me hope!
Anne M. HolteFebruary 7, 2018
What about herbal teas that don’t have caffeine? I would think peppermint tea would be soothing.
LaylaFebruary 7, 2018
Yes, herbal teas should be fine. It’s just because of the acidity of black tea and coffee.
IC LadyMay 30, 2018
I have had severe IC for 5 years- entirely lost the protective lining of my bladder and in the process of having this replaced – and I have given up many things on this list except for coffee and the occasional drink !
I find I can cope with coffee as long as I can drink water along side it and there’s an easy access bathroom that I can go to 2/3 times.
My nurse gave me a good tip for drinking wine on rare occasions( because you still have to live your life some days ! You can’t be too hard on yourself) she said for every half glass of wine add 1 half of water or drink the equivalent – if you do this side by side it’s much better. I find I have much less inflammation – although still a little which passes quickly.
However, I agree with the post above some times you can drink one glass and get away with it – sometimes one sip can knock you out for a week.
WendyJuly 2, 2018
I stay away from citrus. It seems to be the one thing that will flare my ic up. Also anything with citric acid. Tomatoes and Spivey food never really bother me. Fortunately for me I can control my ic through diet restrictions. I haven’t had a bad flare up since 2012
NicolaDecember 3, 2018
I have ic and bladder pain syndrome also have excessive amounts of mast cells in my bladder so I gave up tomatoes coffee spicy foods banana vinegar and all the other foods but since my cholesterol as risen have you any advice please
LaylaDecember 3, 2018
Hard to know what the issue is without knowing more about your overall diet and lifestyle.
KayeMay 11, 2019
Is there any ways you can cook with citrus and be able to get the flavors or the citrus without the damaging burning sensations?
LaylaMay 11, 2019
I haven’t tried this myself but I could imagine lemon or orange extract or essential oil might work…
Lisa BowmanSeptember 13, 2019
A lot of things bother my bladder. Cinnamon, citrus, spices, milk products, additives to foods, and soft drinks. I only drink water. I get kidney and bladder stones, so I drink only distilled water. Bacon, sausage bother it also. I have been dealing with this since 2000, after I had an infection and took a couple rounds of antibiotics. I have learned to try to ignore the urge to go when I know I don’t have a full bladder. I also noticed that protein helps, like chicken. If I don’t have protein, water seems to go through me and irritate my bladder. I look at others and wish I had a normal bladder. It’s sad.
Bobby D GaytonOctober 26, 2020
How about using stevia for sweetener? Also, Is alkaline water ph 9.5 good to drink? I was diagnosed with “radiation cystitis, do you have any other recommendations for it?
Beatrice IshlerJanuary 31, 2021
What about sugar? Had a bad flare up after eating a very rich praline cup cake. Hadn’t been eating anything sweet for a long time.
LaylaFebruary 5, 2021
Yes, sugar can cause flares because pathogenic microbes like to feed on it. So if you have a chronic infection, sugar could cause a flare.