Most people with interstitial cystitis (IC) report that food sensitivities. However, trigger foods and beverages are different for different people. In addition, many with IC have other health conditions (e.g., constipation or irritable bowel syndrome) requiring them to limit or avoid specific foods related to these health problems.

Foods and beverages that affect symptoms are different for each person with IC.

Studies have consistently found that diet triggers vary greatly among IC patients. Some individuals with IC are very aware  that certain foods cause their bladders to flare, while other patients have not figured out what foods might bother their bladders.  To make it more challenging, some fresh foods that bother your IC may not cause flares when they are canned or cooked. Also, if you have allergies or intolerances, your symptoms may worsen when you consume certain products. To learn what foods might trigger your IC and get your symptoms under control, following an elimination diet is key.

Most Bothersome Foods

There are certain items that are more likely to trigger IC flares:

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

Restricting intake of the foods and beverages listed above help some individuals control IC symptoms. However, others may need to limit even more foods and beverages. Learn about how to identify your trigger foods:

Since it takes more than a few days or even a few weeks for symptoms to improve after restricting a problematic food or beverage, some patients may not realize that certain foods trigger IC pain. For instance, if after stopping coffee, your symptoms do not improve immediately, do not assume that coffee is not a trigger item for you. Stay off of coffee for several weeks to see if your symptoms improve.

MYTH: Don’t eat acidic foods.
Many IC trigger foods are high in ascorbic (vitamin C) and citric acids (e.g., tomatoes and oranges). However, research has yet to prove that the acid in these foods is the substance provoking IC symptoms. In fact, many fruits and vegetables (which contain different types of natural acids) do not trigger bladder flares and they contain valuable anti-oxidants to keep us healthy. Read about IC-friendly foods that are high in vitamin C, and avoiding acidic food.

Revised Wednesday, April 6th, 2016