Urinary incontinence

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Q. I am 71 and sometimes experience urinary incontinence. It is not a consistent problem and I believe it may be related to food additives.

Have you ever heard of this, and if so, can you suggest where I might find information about possible culprits?

I have thought bread was a problem for some years - I can eat bread happily whenever I have been in Germany with my husband's family, but here I often have problems - May

A. I have not only heard of food-related urinary incontinence, but seen it with my own eyes. When I was doing my study on the effects of bread preservative on children's behaviour, one of the children who had been toilet trained for years turned into a human fountain in front of me while on the preserved bread challenge.

There are numerous reports from our readers of food-related urinary incontinence or bedwetting in adults, children and even a dog. As is usual with food intolerance, everyone has different triggers. If you suspect certain foods - such as bread - you could switch to preservative-free bread and see what happens. This is not as easy as it sounds because manufacturers are doing their best to hide propionate bread preservatives (280-283) under innocent sounding names such as cultured dextrose (see our blog about hiding propionate bread preservatives even in certified organic bread)

It is common to have more than one food trigger. If avoiding preserved bread doesn't work, the best way to find out exactly what your triggers are is to use the RPAH elimination diet as a diagnostic too. Our readers have reported problems with additives, salicylates, amines, or dairy foods. Urinary problems are exceptionally easy to work with because they are so obvious.

See more

Bedwetting factsheet

Bladder problems in adults factsheet

How to start failsafe eatingHow to start failsafe eating

Some reader reports

We gave up 282 preservatives in bread after reading your book Fed up about two years ago and within a week my wife (aged 56) was free of urinary incontinence ..." - from story [338]
    
I've done 14 day of strict elimination ... I have had relief for so many symptoms ...  My biggest triumph is with my bladder ... All my life (I'm now 45), I've had a dodgy bladder ­ urgency and frequency. Often managing to produce only tiny amounts of urine, but have to go NOW ...  at the end of the first week of elimination diet, I noticed that my bladder was less sensitive. Those 'urgent urges' still come sometimes, but I can hold them off  ... . I feel I have some control over my bladder ... . Many years ago, a urologist told me that he couldn't help  ..he could find nothing physically wrong with me. He said that he saw 6 or 7 women EVERY WEEK with my problem ...  No one ever suggested that it was the normal, healthy, every day foods I was eating that might be the problem. I cannot believe it has taken me this long to stumble on a solution and reclaim a part of my life previously spent crossing my legs, rushing rudely away from conversations, desperately hunting for a toilet, desperately queuing for the toilet, weeing in all sorts of embarrassing places due to lack of toilet, actually wetting myself and having to clean up and change clothes ... - from story [1150]

My 5 year old has a bladder problem. When she has to go toilet, she has to go NOW or she will leak and wet her pants. We saw a dietitian and started the diet (including dairy free) 3 weeks ago...Our daughter has had 7 dry nights in a row ... (later update) no urgency for the toilet ... Wendy, from story [977]

Last year, my 8 year old son, who is usually dry at night, started wetting his bed. He wet it every night for over 2 months. During this same time, his twin sister - who has never been dry at night, went from wetting her bed once a night to wetting at least twice a night. Even their 3 year old brother, who was occasionally dry, stopped having any dry nights ... I discovered that the "healthy", Warburtons Seeded Batch Loaf which we had switched to about 2 months before contains 282 ..." - from story [1096]

Our little dog has been incontinent for 3 years and getting worse.  She has been on medication but it's been getting less effective ...  about 2 months ago, I found that all of her food had preservatives ... I changed her diet to a natural brand  ...  For the first time in years, she has stopped leaving little puddles all over the house and has now also been medication free for the last month ... - Cristi, from story [1250]

I have ... an 8 yo who wets the bed ... I was feeding my children with additives just in their sandwiches every day from the bread to the cheese without even realising ... I recently changed ... toothpaste to a mint one and couldn't understand why ... he was wetting the bed a lot more ...  I read about salicylates in the mint toothpaste and stopped immediately ... The bed wetting has improved already. We have cut additives out of our diet and it seems that as long as we limit the amount of salicylates in fruit and vegetables that he eats, he doesn't wet the bed – Tania, from story [975]