Effect of Diet on Interstitial Cystitis

Effect of Diet on Interstitial Cystitis

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Written by: Dr. Payal Bhandari

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is diagnosed as a chronic bladder pain condition. IC is noted to respond well to dietary changes to support more alkaline blood and urine to help manage symptoms.

Written by: Dr. Payal Bhandari

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a chronic bladder pain condition. IC is noted to respond well to dietary changes to support more alkaline blood and urine.

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a general term for chronic bladder pain and is commonly diagnosed when a patient consistently presents with UTI symptoms but negative urine cultures.

The diagnosis of IC is chronic bladder pain caused by chronic inflammation of the bladder and poor alignment of the pelvis due to poor clearance of toxic acidic waste and a person’s inability to release negative stress-derived emotions.

Another theory for IC is that recurring urinary tract infections, and the immune response driving inflammation and UTI symptoms, is at least one of if not the cause of Interstitial Cystitis (IC).

A person diagnosed with IC may suffer from urgency to urinate, a frequency of urination, pelvis pain and pressure, low back pain, vaginal discomfort or any one of these symptoms.

IC responds extremely well to dietary changes that support more alkaline blood and urine. The key lies in knowing how to adequately hydrate cells and focusing on having more alkaline foods. Below are just a few tips:


✅ IC friendly:

  • Water is the #1 and only beverage. Make sure to close your eyes whenever you drink room temperature plain water and be fully immersed in your breathing. We are warm blooded on the inside so that the body LOVES warm/room temperature water to be effectively delivered into the cells. Cold/icy drinks send chills down the body and freak the nervous system out so water is never able to easily go into cells
  • Drink 1 liter (~32 ounces) of water upon awakening. Try to have at least 4 liters of water total each day. Make sure to either have water 20 to 30 minutes before or after meals if you want to digest food. Never have much liquids during meals since it will dilute digestive enzymes and it is extremely difficult to break down food.
  • Vegetable smoothie, lime/lemon/orange and other fruit-flavored water, herbal tea (i.e., Chamomile, Nettle leaf, elderberry, milk thistle)

❌ Avoid:

  • Chugging water freaks out the nervous system where it senses you’re wanting water to go right through you, not into your cells to truly hydrate you.

  • Cold/icy drinks make it difficult for water to go into cells. The biggest reason is we are warm blooded animals and hence, need warmth to nourish us.

  • Alcohol, cranberry juice, sport drinks, soda, chocolate/strawberry and other flavored milk, milkshake, coffee, black tea, iced tea, fruit smoothie, carbonated water, other sugary and carbonated beverages, tomato juice


✅ IC friendly:

  • More cooked versus raw fresh vegetables grown above ground (i.e., lettuce, kale, swiss chard, bok choy, bell peppers, celery, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash). The benefit of balancing cooked versus raw items is because it balances out how many digestive enzymes you will be required to utilize to easily digest food. Cook foods require lots of enzymes whereas raw foods don’t. If your gut is overworked and worn down, it will prefer the helping hand of cooked veggies but also needs the raw veggies mixed in to get stronger and healthier.

  • Stick with veggies grown above ground since they have the highest concentration of available nutrients and live electrons.

❌ Avoid:

  • Asparagus, spinach, artichokes are full of natural acids which for those with IC can be irritants.  

  • Root vegetables (i.e., onions, garlic, ginger, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots) don’t have live electrons since they don’t do direct photosynthesis. They are starches full of lots of natural sugars and can be used as medicines only sparingly and when your digestive system is working properly.

  • Butternut squash is full of natural sugars that those with IC don’t seem to tolerate in excess consumption. The same goes for green peas along with the fact that they are heavily sprayed with pesticides in the U.S.

  • Chili peppers irritate the stomach lining which triggers a stress response that can cause IC flare-ups.

  • Fermented veggies (i.e., sauerkraut, pickles) in tiny doses only. Those with IC’s gut microbiome can’t handle it otherwise.

  • Raw tomato products versus cooked due to high concentration of leptin that triggers an acidic response in the gut and bloodstream and hence, can cause IC flare-ups.


✅ IC friendly:

  • Ancient whole grains such as amaranth, barley, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, spelt, millet, kamut, sorghum, teff, farro, freekeh

❌ Avoid:

  • GMO (genetically modified pesticide-heavy) crops: wheat, corn, soy; white rice, and all animal products since they are heavily fed GMO crops.

  • The other problem with ALL ANIMAL PRODUCTS is they are always loaded with tons of pesticides, heavy metals, and other industrial toxicants. This is by far the #1 reason for IC since the bladder, kidneys, and gut have stopped being able to digest and excrete their high concentration of indigestible proteins. This makes the blood and urine extremely acidic and triggers IC symptoms.  


✅ IC friendly:

  • Lentils (i.e. beluga lentils, red lentils, brown lentils) variety of dals, garbanzo beans, lima beans, mung beans, black beans, green beans

❌ Avoid:

  • Big beans like kidney beans, pinto, white require lots of digestive enzymes to metabolize. When the gut and other organs are not functioning optimally, big beans can be harder to digest and hence, trigger more blood acidity.  

Protein Sources

✅ IC friendly:

  • Cooked versus raw plain nuts, soy products, edamames, meat replacements (i.e., Beyond Burger, Impossible), rice milk, hemp milk

❌ Avoid:

  • All dairy products: cheeses (processed, American, mozzarella, cheddar cheese (mild), feta, ricotta, string cheeses), ice cream, cream cheese, ghee, yogurt, milk (whole, low-fat, nonfat, lactaid, goat, milkshakes, chocolate/strawberry or other flavored milks), nut milks (almond)

  • Eggs, red meat (i.e. beef, lamb, pork, goat, veal, and mutton), poultry (chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese), fish


✅ IC friendly:

  • Berries, melons, apples (Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady), fruit sherbet (no citrus or chocolate flavors), avocados, pears, oranges

❌ Avoid:

  • Ultra-sweet fruit typically only grown in hot, tropical regions of the world – pineapple, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, bananas, guava. They have a high concentration of natural sugars which pathogenic microbes (i.e. bacteria, virus, fungus, mold) inside the gut and other organ cavities love to keep flourishing. In IC, the goal is to feed mostly beneficial microbes in order to heal from the inside out.  

This list is meant to act as an guide. Every person is different in finding a routine that works for them. You can hear from a fellow Uqora customer and her journey with IC here.

To learn more about the IC diet, go to SF Advanced Health, nationally-recognized experts on IC.


Note: Dr. Payal Bhandari represents herself as a healthcare professional in this article. However, this article is not intended to replace medical advice given to you by your doctor.

About the author

Dr. Payal Bhandari, M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative functional medicine and the founder of SF Advanced Health. She is also a medical advisor to Uqora. She combines the best in Western and Eastern medicine to define the root cause of illness. She received her undergraduate degree in biology and Doctor of Medicine degree from West Virginia University.


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