Recently a group from Tampa, Florida announced the preliminary results of their research into diet and IC. The study actually validates once again the connection between diet and the symptoms of IC and PBS patients. The preliminary abstract also reaffirms that most food items don't bother IC patients and when you look at the list of foods that they are mentioning, it parallels beautifully what patients have told us for years. Good work!
HOWEVER, I do have a couple of cautions for patients who are reading these preliminary results that are very important to mention here about this article:
- Some headlines are actually saying that because of this study, IC patients don't need to be so strict about their diet. When you hear this and it seems contrary to what you know personally, it is good to ask some questions. For example, what are they benchmarking this statement on? Are they talking to newly diagnosed patients? Are they talking about patients who have been afraid to eat for years and thus, they have limited themselves to rice and pears? Are they talking to patients with mild IC or throwing everyone into the pot? Patients with IC are all different and we need to recognize that individuality first and foremost when we talk about any treatment including diet. For years we have been working to liberalize the IC diet, and I think we did a great job last fall when we standardized the IC Food List, but be careful when you see blanket statements made when new research is published. Right now, all we have is an abstract, not the full article. I just hate to see anyone take this one statement and liberalize their diet to the point where they put themselves in a flare.
- Be sure you look at where they are getting their information. At this point we don't know yet how they filtered their sample. Will there be some worry that the group of people who took the survey already had information about the IC diet and that influenced the answers to the questions they were asked?. In a case like this, a good study will either include people who did not have a lot of diet information and were just relating their experiences. Again, I don't know if this was considered in the study or not until I see a fuller version of the article, but it is something to keep in mind.
- I understand the Prelief and baking soda comments, but where are the cautions? Prelief is a wonderful product made by people who have put a lot of thought into it, and when it works, it works great.......but it doesn't work for everyone. I wish it had worked for me, but after spending hundreds of dollars on it, I came to the conclusion I was not one of the lucky ones. I still recommend it to new patients to try, and as IC supplements go, it is safe and pretty inexpensive. But if it doesn't work for someone, there is no reason to keep trying.
As for the baking soda, wow.............that is loaded, in my estimation. Baking soda may work for a day, or two, or maybe three, but eventually, it begins to backfire and the pain gets worse. I do not know exactly why this is so, but my suspicion is that you have bombarded the body with so much alkalinity that it has to rebalance itself...which physiologically results in dramatically changing the pH of the urine.....ouch! (See my article on "Body pH vs Urine pH" if you want to know more about the physiology of that process.) Finally, I hope people understand this, but you never know how desperate someone is for help: People with high blood pressure or any other sodium sensitivity should NOT under any circumstances use baking soda to treat flares. It is a rescue treatment at best, not an everyday fix for eating IC trigger foods. I hope that this is also something that is mentioned in the article.
- Finally, why are blanket statements being made about different ethnic foods?I can only assume this was a way to streamline the information gathering, but patients need more specific information. To me, this is a bit like racial profiling. We need to be really really REALLY careful if we are going to make statements like that., Are generalizations really the best way to go here? First of all, there are IC patients all around the world, and they need to eat too. I have worked with people from India, Mexico, the Philippines, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, and China. Just like all American food isn't the same, neither is the food native to those cultures. It is the INGREDIENTS in foods that are the problem....not the country of origin. I can eat a lot of "Chinese food" as long as I can control the ingredients! (Yumm!) Let's talk more about how to adapt these foods rather than throw them out with the dirty dish water. My hope is that the full article talks about ingredients and not entire food groups or categories of food.
To finish.........I want to give kudos to those doing this kind of research. We need it and it has been a long time coming. Now.....no more validation studies.....let's figure out WHY food is bothering our bladders and work on a cure! I want strawberries! :-)
Julie Beyer, MA, RDN
Author, Speaker, Patient Advocate
For step by step guidance for creating your own personal interstitial cystitis meal plan, see: Confident Choices®: Customizing the Interstitial Cystitis Diet.
For some basic, family-style, IC bladder-friendly recipes, see: Confident Choices®: A Cookbook for Interstitial Cystitis and Overactive BladderFor health care workers: Interstitial Cystitis: A Guide for Nutrition Educators
**Please SHARE using the links below!**