Research links a handful of foods and beverages to interstitial cystitis (IC) flare-ups, including:

  • Coffee, tea, soda, alcohol, citrus juices, and cranberry juice
  • Foods and beverages containing artificial sweeteners
  • Hot peppers and spicy foods

Some of the earliest findings identifying the link between diet and IC stems from self-report surveys conducted by patient groups. The Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA) has surveyed patients a number of times throughout the years and has concluded that by making changes to their diets, many patients can help control IC symptoms. The Interstitial Cystitis (IC) and Diet Survey was conducted by the ICA from December 1, 2003, to February 12, 2004. About 560 patients responded to this mail-based, self-report questionnaire, which provided some of the first patient insights into the relationship between food and IC symptoms. Findings highlight the positive role of diet modifications play in controlling IC symptoms for some patients.

In 2009, the ICA Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Survey reaffirmed these findings. Eighty percent of the 2,000 respondents said that by making changes to their food and beverage selections, people with IC—especially newly diagnosed patients—can help control their symptoms.

However, studies have consistently found that there are great variations among IC patients. How much, how often, and the specific combinations of foods and beverages that affect symptoms are different for each person with IC. Also, some fresh foods that bother your IC may not cause flare-ups when they are cooked. If you have milk allergies or are lactose intolerant, your IC symptoms may worsen when you drink milk and eat dairy foods. Many patients also report problems when they consume gluten.

Revised Monday, March 30th, 2015