Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Interstitial Cystitis and Potassium

Avocados are bladder friendly and have potassiumAre you concerned about ingesting potassium with IC? In the past, many patients and even clinicians thought that avoiding potassium was important to help IC patients control their symptoms. I am not exactly sure where this comes from, but maybe it started when doctors started instilling a potassium solution in the bladders of people suspected to have interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. If the solution causes the patient pain, the assumption is that the person has a damaged bladder lining--likely IC.

We can debate the process itself another day, but suffice it to say, if a person experiences the pain of a potassium sensitivity test, I can hardly blame them when they are afraid to consume anything that has a significant amount of potassium in it.

If a person avoids all high potassium foods, however, they can quickly put their lives and wellbeing in jeopardy. Potassium is a vital nutrient for humans, and an essential part of the "electrical" system of the body, responsible for nerve and muscle health including those that keep the heart beating properly. Some IC patients, thinking they were doing the right thing by avoiding potassium rich foods, have even ended up in the emergency room with erratic heart beats. (I actually have to take a potassium supplement at times to prevent going too low!)

In addition to muscle and nerve function and cardiac health, potassium is a critical element in the prevention of osteoporosis, hypertention (high blood pressure), and strokes.
Less serious, but definitely warning symptoms of low potassium include weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and constipation.

IC Safe High Potassium Foods
Most interstitial cystitis patients have some food sensitivities to fruit, including bananas and oranges which are considered good sources of potassium. The good news is that other high potassium foods are generally well tolerated by those with a painful bladder:
  • Avocado
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes, in particular white beans
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Whey protein
If you suspect that your potassium is low, or you are uncertain about how much potassium you should consume, your doctor can perform a simple blood test to find out what your current levels are.

Author, Speaker, Patient Advocate

Helping Yourself Is the First Step to Getting Well

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 Bladder



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