By Dr. David Miller
Can an apple and a nap make you feel like a kid again? Well, when it comes to your urinary health, it’s an ageless combination.
When you think of it, the general goals for healthy living haven’t changed since we were kids: eat lots of fruits and veggies, drink plenty of water, get some exercise, and sleep so your body can rejuvenate. There is no milestone year that alters these living-well tenets. The more consistently we practice them, the better our bodies should perform every function, from climbing stairs to urinating regularly.
Some urinary conditions may still arise – enlarged prostates and overactive bladders affect tens of millions of Americans as they age – but the better care we take of our insides now, the better equipped we will be to detect and manage such issues.
Treasure Your Urinary Health With These Golden Rules
Like a child, your urinary system, which runs from the kidneys to the urethra, is continually adjusting to changes, not just in age but in our environment. And to your urology system, that environment is determined by everything that enters your body, as well as your activities.
Maintaining good urinary health can therefore be achieved by doing what we were told to do as children. Here is how.
- Eat lots of fruits and veggies (but don’t overeat!). You think kids are picky eaters? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get 3.5 to five servings of fruits and veggies a day. Yet just 9% of American adults eat the minimum recommended amount, the CDC reports. On our hit list: pears, berries, bananas, carrots, and squash for a healthier bladder; and bananas, berries (especially cranberries), and probiotic-rich sauerkraut to ease urinary tract infections. Bonus: Because of their high water and fiber content, fruits and vegetables fill you up and can discourage overeating. Unhealthy weight can contribute to a range of urinary issues, from kidney cancer to pelvic floor weakness.
- Drink plenty of water. The body needs water to flush out bacteria and other waste from the bloodstream, as well as to keep blood vessels dilated to nourish your organs. This helps to prevent kidney or bladder stones from developing, and reduces the bacterial buildup that can cause urinary tract infections and prostate infections. Further, good hydration improves blood flow, which is good for men’s sexual health because blood flow is necessary to keep an erection. Adults should drink half an ounce to one full ounce of water for every pound they weigh. Those in hot climates and who exercise often may require more.
- Play and get some exercise. Physical activities that improve the body’s core – think stronger abdominal and chest muscles and an elongated spine – aid the bladder by reducing pressure on it. This in turn can prevent incontinence or reduce its symptoms. Exercise also improves blood flow, which is good for sexual activity. Many men develop erectile dysfunction as a result of heart disease, obesity, and/or diabetes – all of which result from compromised blood flow. Even a walk or playing tag with the kids counts. Have fun!
- Sleep so your body can rejuvenate. Lack of sleep is a common – but often overlooked – contributor of urinary ailments. Here’s the thing: While you sleep, your body repairs itself from the wears of the day. As adults, sleep improves overall health including our brain function, which plays a key role in telling the body when to release urine and waste. Research also has linked sleep deprivation to erectile dysfunction and low testosterone levels.
Share The Health
One other important goal for healthy living also hasn’t changed since we were kids: Share with others. If a friend or loved one exhibits symptoms of urinary health issues, share with them the importance of seeing a urologist.
Chances are, you’ll all sleep better for it.