Urologist Questions Interstitial Cystitis

I have interstitial cystitis. Are there certain foods I should avoid? If so, which ones?

I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis last year, and since then, I've noticed I experience more pain after eating certain foods or drinking certain beverages. Is there a correlation?

8 Answers

Genrally speaking, patients with Interstitial Cystitis should avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, as these are all bladder irritants. In addition, spicy foods should be avoided as well, and anything that could make your urine acidic in nature. This would include citrus juices. However, other patients with IC have reported dairy products may exacerbate their symptoms; so; each patient may respond to different foods and beverages in an individual way. There is some trial and error on each patient's part to see what items will make symptoms better or worse. A liberal use of fluids, especially water, is most helpful. Keeping your urine dilute will actually alleviate some of the pain and discomfort with voiding. Ideally, an evaluation by a specialist with expertise in IC vital to treatment. Good luck.
Can foods worsen your IC yes they can. However, diets review for the long term show no symptomatic improvement with dietary changes. Now you may experience a worsening of your symptoms with certain foods and you acknowledge this in your question. It would be prudent to avoid these foods but that is very difficult for most patients to comply with for the long term. I personally feel the improvement attained only by a small percentage (20%) is not worth the trouble in the long run.

Serge Marinkovic MD, FPM-RS
The idea behind managing your diet is to avoid foods and beverages that may irritate your bladder. Here is a list of some of the suggested items to restrict, followed by foods and beverages that a number of IC patients have noted do not cause them problems.

Milk/Dairy Products
aged cheeses, sour cream, yogurt and chocolate

white chocolate, non-aged cheeses such as cottage or American, frozen yogurt and milk

fava beans, lima beans, onions, tofu, soy beans and tomatoes
other vegetables and home grown tomatoes (which may be less acidic)

apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, citrus fruits, cranberries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, rhubarb, strawberries and juices made from these fruits
melons (other than cantaloupes) blueberries and pears

Carbohydrates and Grains
rye and sourdough bread
other breads, pasta, potatoes and rice

Meats and Fish

aged, canned, cured, processed or smoked meats and fish, anchovies, caviar, chicken livers, corned beef, and meats which contain nitrates or nitrites
other poultry, fish and meat

most nuts
almonds, cashews and pine nuts

alcoholic beverages (including beer and wine), carbonated drinks such as sodas, coffee or tea, and fruit juices, especially citrus or cranberry juice.
non-carbonated bottled water, decaffeinated, acid-free coffee and tea, and some herbal teas. Call 1- 800TEALEAF for information on coffees and teas.

mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, salsa, spicy foods (especially such ethnic foods as Chinese, Indian, Mexican and Thai), soy sauce, miso, salad dressing and vinegar, including balsamic and flavored vinegars
garlic and other seasonings

Preservatives and Additives
benzol alcohol, citric acid, monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Nutrasweet=C2=AE) and saccharine, foods containing preservatives and artificial ingredients and colors

tobacco, caffeine, diet pills, junk foods, recreational drugs, cold and allergy medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, and certain vitamins

Although the list of foods to avoid may initially appear daunting, remember that there are still many foods you can enjoy. Some IC patients report that they have the least trouble with rice, potatoes, pasta, vegetables, meat, and chicken. With these foods as a base for your diet, you can create nutritious and flavorful meals. You can still cook for family and friends and share meals with them because the foods you can eat are the basic elements of a healthful, balanced diet. However, you may need to make some minoradjustments, such as setting your serving aside before adding seasonings. You may also want to consider adding a source of fiber to your diet to promote regular bowel movements.

With some imaginative effort, you should be able to come up with substitutions for your favorite foods and drinks which will not aggravate your symptoms. Here are a few suggestions:
Add a pinch of salt to carbonated beverages to make them flat.
Try reduced-acid orange juice now available in supermarkets.
Try Prelief a dietary supplement containing calcium glycerophosphate, which has been shown in research studies on IC patients to help reduce bladder pain and urinary urgency when used with acidic foods and beverages. For more information, call 1-800-994-4711 or go to www.prelief.com.
Boil down all sauces containing alcohol.
Yes. Need avoid spicy foods coffee. Need to follow IC diet
There certainly can be a correlation.

Here is a link to what foods can be triggers for symptoms:


Thanks for your question. Yes, the symptoms of interstitial cystitis are known to correlate with certain foods and beverages. The most common food groups that can cause problems include spicy foods, citrus fruit and sugary foods. The common beverages include citrus juices, alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks. Other triggers can include tomatoes, artificial sweeteners, vinegar and chocolate.

Yes many types of food can "trigger" or exacerbate IC. IChelp.org is a great place to start and can do an elimination diet to look for aggravating foods. They also provide IC friendly foods which is just as helpful.
Hope this helps,

Yes. Spicy foods, acidic foods, caffeine and alcohol can all make the symptoms worse. Foods and beverages containing artificial sweeteners can also trigger symptoms.