I see many men and women who complain of recurrent urinary tract infections. They may also complain of frequent urination in the daytime or at night, have sudden urges to urinate or may even leak a little urine when they sneeze or cough (stress incontinence).
Many have report they have had normal bladder evaluations according to their urinary tract specialists (urologist) but still the bladder infections continue. These infections may occur every 1-3 months. I have even seen girls as young as 6-7 years old who have frequent bladder infections and some of the similar urinary symptoms as adults.
The following sections will help you understand the anatomy of the urinary tact, the importance of healthy bladder function, the impact of carbohydrates on our nervous system and how carbohydrate restriction can restore neurological function and prevent bladder infections.
Anatomy of the Urinary Tract
The urinary tract is composed of several different components that work together to produce, transport, store and empty urine. The urinary tract is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.
The kidney filters impurities from our bloodstream that make up the variety of molecules that are commonly referred to as urine. The urine is then transported down small tubes known as ureters where it empties into a storage reservoir know as the bladder. When full, signals are sent to the brain over a period of time.
When we feel the bladder is too full or we have the convenience of an available rest room, we can voluntary contract the muscles of the bladder and the relax the outlet valve muscles an urine then flows out through the urethra.
Normal Bladder Function Protects Against InfectionsWhen urinating the bladder should complete empty. Complete emptying of the bladder is critical for the prevention of urinary tract infections. Bacterial will commonly migrate up the urethra into the bladder and start to multiple in the urine. Emptying the bladder flushes out these bacterial before they multiple so much as to harm our bladder and give us the common symptoms of a bladder infection (urgent, frequent or uncomfortable urination)
Bladder infections (also commonly referred to as urinary tract infections or UTIs) commonly occur when residual urine frequently remains in the bladder after urination. Incomplete emptying means that some bacteria may remain within the bladder and have more time to continue growing and multiplying. If the number of bacteria increases significantly, they cross the threshold from simply growing in the urine to now becoming and infection. The worse the bladders ability to completely empty the bladder, the more likely a person is going to develop a bladder infection.
Carbohydrates Can Cause Bladder Infections
Now there is a very long list of reasons why men and women may develop bladder infections and the vast majority of them have something to do with not being able to completely empty the bladder.
Two common examples are a descended bladder after pregnancy in women and an enlarged prostate in men. But I’ve found that many patients are told by their physicians that the must have one of these conditions simple because the physical exam and testing are normal and there seems to be no other explanation.
There is a third and much more common cause of urinary retention and frequent bladder infections that is commonly overlooked or even completely ignored. This is a disturbance of the autonomic nervous system that controls the coordination of our bladder dysfunction.
How to Decrease the Frequency of Bladder infections
As we have discussed in other reports on this web site, excessive carbohydrate intake has a toxic effect on our autonomic nervous system. Whether or not we are overweight, many of us consume far too many carbohydrates.
In order to decrease the frequency or likelihood of bladder infections, you’ll need to improve the functioning of your autonomic nervous system so the bladder empties more effectively. And in order to do that you’ll need to reduce the toxic effect of carbohydrates on the nervous system by reducing your total daily carbohydrate intake.
I recommend reducing your daily intake of carbohydrates (sugars and starches) to 100-125 grams/day for women and 125-150 grams/day for men. The average American female consumes 250-300 grams per day and the average male consumes 300-350 grams per day. This is far in excess of my recommendations and is the primary reason that your bladder cannot empty correctly.
As I’ve noted in my other writing, try to eliminate most of your carbohydrate from the least psychologically important meals of the day. For many of us, it’s breakfast and lunch. Focus instead on eating high protein/low-carb or carb-free meals at these times and saving your carbohydrate allowance for your most psychologically/socially important meal, dinner. Dinner is often the meal that involves eating with friends or family and has a great deal of emotion connected with eating and food.
By saving your carbohydrate allowance for this meal, the reduction in carbohydrates won’t seem so intrusive and difficult. You’ll still be able to enjoy some of your carbohydrate comfort foods and not feel as if cutting back on carbs is such a sacrifice. There is no metabolic importance to eating carbohydrates at dinner, its only a psychological trick that I have found has helped me as well as many of my patients.
After 2-4 weeks, you should begin to have a noticeable decrease in the frequency with which you need to urinate and begin having fewer episodes of incontinence. This means the bladder is emptying more effectively. And as the bladder is more able to completely empty when you urinate, bacteria are less able to grow out of control and cause bladder infection.
Although some individuals have anatomical problems that cause their urinary frequency and incontinence, most have relatively normal urinary tracts and simple are unable to completely empty the bladder because of autonomic dysfunction.
A reduction in carbohydrates can substantially improve your bladder’s functioning and you’ll enjoy urinating less often; this means less accidents, less interruptions during the day and better sleep. Give it a try, I guarantee you’ll notice improvement in only a few weeks.