Bladder and bowel

You can help manage bladder and bowel symptoms with proper nutrition and fluid intake. If you experience constipation, keep things moving by increasing your intake of fibre. Dietary fibre is found in foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Try to eat at least 25-30 grams of fibre each day. For example, one medium apple contains four grams of fibre, one-half cup of black beans has almost ten grams of fibre, and a half-cup of most bran cereals contains about ten grams of fibre. Check the nutrient information on food packages to see the fibre content.

Here are other tips to increase the fibre in your diet:

  • Add fibre to your diet gradually, because too much too quickly may lead to gas, abdominal bloating and diarrhea.
  • Choose a high-fibre breakfast cereal and whole grain breads, pasta and cereals.
  • Enjoy beans, peas and lentils in a variety of ways, because there are many creative ways to cook with these foods.
  • Choose snacks high in fibre, such as nuts, seeds, chopped vegetables and dried fruit. Most health foods stores have nut bars with varieties of dried fruits and seeds.
  • Eat fruit for dessert or chopped on cereal, and add vegetables to your favorite dishes.

Also, remember that even mild exercise, such as walking or stretching, can help prevent constipation.

Are you drinking enough water?

Keeping hydrated is important for managing MS symptoms. However, sometimes people with MS are concerned about urinary frequency or loss of bladder control and limit their fluid intake. Restricting fluid intake can contribute to problems such as dehydration, dry mouth, difficulties with swallowing, loss of appetite, constipation, and even deficiencies in certain nutrients. Therefore, you should drink at least 8 eight-ounce glasses of water every day.

If that seems like a lot of water each day, try these tips to make sure you get the fluid you need:

  • When you pass by water fountains, take a long drink.
  • Carry a full bottle of water with you when you leave home.
  • Have water with meals.
  • Limit caffeine-rich drinks such as coffee, tea, cola and other soft drinks. Caffeine causes fluid loss and should be avoided if you have bladder problems.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, drink them in moderation. Alcohol depresses your central nervous system and can increase balance and coordination problems. It may also irritate the bladder and aggravate problems with urinary urgency.

If you have bladder symptoms such as urinary frequency of loss of bladder control, talk to your doctor and ask for their recommendations on managing symptoms.

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