Effect of Diet on Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a general term for chronic bladder pain and is commonly diagnosed when a patient consistently presents with UTI symptoms but negative urine cultures.

The diagnosis of IC is chronic bladder pain caused by chronic inflammation of the bladder and poor alignment of the pelvis due to poor clearance of toxic acidic waste and a person’s inability to release negative stress-derived emotions.

Another theory for IC is that recurring urinary tract infections, and the immune response driving inflammation and UTI symptoms, is at least one of if not the cause of Interstitial Cystitis (IC).

A person diagnosed with IC may suffer from urgency to urinate, a frequency of urination, pelvis pain and pressure, low back pain, vaginal discomfort or any one of these symptoms.

IC responds extremely well to dietary changes that support more alkaline blood and urine. The key lies in knowing how to adequately hydrate cells and focusing on having more alkaline foods. Below are just a few tips:

✅ IC friendly:

Water is the #1 and only beverage. Make sure to close your eyes whenever you drink room temperature plain water and be fully immersed in your breathing. We are warm blooded on the inside so that the body LOVES warm/room temperature water to be effectively delivered into the cells. Cold/icy drinks send chills down the body and freak the nervous system out so water is never able to easily go into cells

Drink 1 liter (~32 ounces) of water upon awakening. Try to have at least 4 liters of water total each day. Make sure to either have water 20 to 30 minutes before or after meals if you want to digest food. Never have much liquids during meals since it will dilute digestive enzymes and it is extremely difficult to break down food.

Vegetable smoothie, lime/lemon/orange and other fruit-flavored water, herbal tea (i.e., Chamomile, Nettle leaf, elderberry, milk thistle)

❌ Avoid:

Chugging water freaks out the nervous system where it senses you’re wanting water to go right through you, not into your cells to truly hydrate you.

Cold/icy drinks make it difficult for water to go into cells. The biggest reason is we are warm blooded animals and hence, need warmth to nourish us.

Alcohol, cranberry juice, sport drinks, soda, chocolate/strawberry and other flavored milk, milkshake, coffee, black tea, iced tea, fruit smoothie, carbonated water, other sugary and carbonated beverages, tomato juice

✅ IC friendly:

More cooked versus raw fresh vegetables grown above ground (i.e., lettuce, kale, swiss chard, bok choy, bell peppers, celery, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash). The benefit of balancing cooked versus raw items is because it balances out how many digestive enzymes you will be required to utilize to easily digest food. Cook foods require lots of enzymes whereas raw foods don’t. If your gut is overworked and worn down, it will prefer the helping hand of cooked veggies but also needs the raw veggies mixed in to get stronger and healthier.

Stick with veggies grown above ground since they have the highest concentration of available nutrients and live electrons.

❌ Avoid:

Asparagus, spinach, artichokes are full of natural acids which for those with IC can be irritants.  

Root vegetables (i.e., onions, garlic, ginger, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots) don’t have live electrons since they don’t do direct photosynthesis. They are starches full of lots of natural sugars and can be used as medicines only sparingly and when your digestive system is working properly.

Butternut squash is full of natural sugars that those with IC don’t seem to tolerate in excess consumption. The same goes for green peas along with the fact that they are heavily sprayed with pesticides in the U.S.

Chili peppers irritate the stomach lining which triggers a stress response that can cause IC flare-ups.

Fermented veggies (i.e., sauerkraut, pickles) in tiny doses only. Those with IC’s gut microbiome can’t handle it otherwise.

Raw tomato products versus cooked due to high concentration of leptin that triggers an acidic response in the gut and bloodstream and hence, can cause IC flare-ups.

✅ IC friendly:

Ancient whole grains such as amaranth, barley, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, spelt, millet, kamut, sorghum, teff, farro, freekeh

❌ Avoid:

GMO (genetically modified pesticide-heavy) crops: wheat, corn, soy; white rice, and all animal products since they are heavily fed GMO crops.

The other problem with ALL ANIMAL PRODUCTS is they are always loaded with tons of pesticides, heavy metals, and other industrial toxicants. This is by far the #1 reason for IC since the bladder, kidneys, and gut have stopped being able to digest and excrete their high concentration of indigestible proteins. This makes the blood and urine extremely acidic and triggers IC symptoms.  

✅ IC friendly:

Lentils (i.e. beluga lentils, red lentils, brown lentils) variety of dals, garbanzo beans, lima beans, mung beans, black beans, green beans

❌ Avoid:

Big beans like kidney beans, pinto, white require lots of digestive enzymes to metabolize. When the gut and other organs are not functioning optimally, big beans can be harder to digest and hence, trigger more blood acidity.  

Protein Sources
✅ IC friendly:

Cooked versus raw plain nuts, soy products, edamames, meat replacements (i.e., Beyond Burger, Impossible), rice milk, hemp milk

❌ Avoid:

All dairy products: cheeses (processed, American, mozzarella, cheddar cheese (mild), feta, ricotta, string cheeses), ice cream, cream cheese, ghee, yogurt, milk (whole, low-fat, nonfat, lactaid, goat, milkshakes, chocolate/strawberry or other flavored milks), nut milks (almond)

Eggs, red meat (i.e. beef, lamb, pork, goat, veal, and mutton), poultry (chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese), fish

✅ IC friendly:

Berries, melons, apples (Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady), fruit sherbet (no citrus or chocolate flavors), avocados, pears, oranges

❌ Avoid:

Ultra-sweet fruit typically only grown in hot, tropical regions of the world – pineapple, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, bananas, guava. They have a high concentration of natural sugars which pathogenic microbes (i.e. bacteria, virus, fungus, mold) inside the gut and other organ cavities love to keep flourishing. In IC, the goal is to feed mostly beneficial microbes in order to heal from the inside out.  

This list is meant to act as an guide. Every person is different in finding a routine that works for them. 


Dr. Bhandari M.D. and the Advanced Health Team Are Here to Support Your Health

Our expert team of integrative holistic practitioners work with patients suffering from chronic health concerns.  We help our patients reverse disease by better understanding how the body optimally functions and providing personalized treatment plans. To learn more and book an appointment, contact Advanced Health or call 1-415-506-9393.

Payal Bhandari M.D. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is one of U.S.'s top leading integrative functional medical physicians and the founder of San Francisco' top ranked medical center, SF Advanced Health. Her well-experienced holistic healthcare team collaborates together to deliver whole-person personalized care and combines the best in Western and Eastern medicine. By being an expert of cell function, Dr. Bhandari defines the root cause of illness and is able to subside any disease within weeks to months. She specializes in cancer prevention and reversal, digestive & autoimmune disorders. Dr. Bhandari received her Bachelor of Arts degree in biology in 1997 and Doctor of Medicine degree in 2001 from West Virginia University. She the completed her Family Medicine residency in 2004 from the University of Massachusetts and joined a family medicine practice in 2005 which was eventually nationally recognized as San Francisco’s 1st patient-centered medical home. To learn more, go to www.sfadvancedhealth.com.

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