Friday, July 22, 2016

Planning Vegetarian Meals on an Interstitial Cystitis Diet

Interstitial Cystsitis Diet
I am often asked whether a person with interstitial cystitis can create a meal plan on a vegan diet. I always hesitate to answer because a vegan diet is challenging enough without the additional restrictions of another special diet like that for IC, but I will try here.

Keep in mind, not all vegetarian diets are the same. Just to get everyone on the same page, here are some definitions that can help:
  • Vegetarian diets in general do not include meat, poultry, or fish, although some people who eat vegetarian meals may include fish occasionally. The term "vegetarian" is fairly generic and doesn't describe whether or not a person consumes other animal products such as milk or eggs. 
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets avoid all meats, but DO include milk and eggs. You may also hear of people who will only use milk products but not eggs (lacto vegetarian), or eggs but not milk products (ovo vegetarian). 
  • Vegan diets don't include any animal products at all and, by nature, are the most restrictive and difficult to balance nutritionally. There is some debate whether products created by animals (like honey) should be included in a vegan diet.
In addition to various religious restrictions, many people consume a vegetarian diet for the advertised health benefits of higher fiber, and anti-oxidant consumption, and lower saturated fat.

 

Which Vegetarian Diet Works for You?


I don't usually recommend a strictly vegan diet for people with IC unless there is a strong religious or personal moral conviction against eating meat or other animal products. Besides the fact that foods that are generally a staple of a vegan diet like soy (including endamame, soy milk, and tofu), tomatoes, citrus fruits, and some legumes (fava and lima beans) can increase interstitial cystitis symptoms, many IC patients find that a consuming high quality protein each day helps them feel better.

Therefore, a good compromise to a vegan diet might be a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. People with interstitial cystitis generally find that eggs are soothing when they are in a flare, and also, many feel that vanilla milk shakes, warm milk with vanilla, or cottage cheese are soothing foods. You could also consider including fish one or two times a week. Some choose organic sources of eggs and milk/milk products to minimize exposure to hormones, steroids, and other chemicals that could stimulate your IC symptoms.

If you choose not to consume any animal products at all, it becomes essential to "complete" your protein intake by consuming the various types of plant based foods each day. A good rule of thumb is to include something from each of the amino acid rich plant groups each day: vegetables, legumes, grains, and nuts/seeds. Each of these food groups supplies a different set of "essential amino acids." Combining these essential amino acids helps ensure that you are getting the most protein possible out of a vegan diet.

Julie Beyer, MA, RDN
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

For health care workers:  Interstitial Cystitis: A Guide for Nutrition Educators


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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What Do Omega 3 Fatty Acids Have to Do with Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome?

Omega 3 Fatty Acids and IC


One of the most common questions I get about interstitial cystitis and diet is, "What supplements should I take?" The answer is not quite so easy since in most cases, we can get a balanced diet from just eating a wide variety of foods. One exception may be sources of omega-3 fatty acids which are important for cellular protection, immune support, as well as cardiovascular health. Omega 3 fatty acids are healthy fats found in foods in three main forms: DHA, EPA, and ALA.

DHA and EPA, or the “fish oils”, are found in salmon, trout, and other fish. These omega-3 sources have been shown by some studies to reduce a person’s risk for heart disease, eye disease, and possibly cancer. DHA has been studied in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and may act as a partial mediator, possibly lowering the risk of AD in some genetic forms of the condition. ALA is found in flaxseed and in small quantities in canola and soy. ALA has not been show to have any significant effects in humans and must be converted to DHA in order to be used, hardly an efficient process. In addition, some studies have discovered that men who eat an average of 1,500 mg. a day of ALA in the form of flax seed oil actually have two times the risk of advanced prostate cancer than those who consumed half that amount. Consumption of flax seeds have not been shown to be a problem for men, and ALA in general does not seem to be a problem for women. 

So why all the hype? Although there isn't any direct evidence that omega-3 fatty acid consumption is related to interstitial cystitis, there is emerging research suggesting that low levels of omega-3s may correlate with inflammatory conditions. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids are, in general, important for cellular health. They are a key component of cell membranes and important for healthy cell replication. This is especially true of epithelial (skin) cells. Many people may not know that the urothelial cells of the bladder wall are very similar to the epithelial cells of the skin. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch then to believe that omega-3 fatty acids could be important for a healthy bladder. 

Omega-3s, like other nutrients, don’t stand alone, so the best way to get these essential nutrients is directly from food. Consuming three to four servings of fatty fish a week provides most people with the amount of omega-3 fatty acids needed to maintain good health. Some fish may be contaminated with heavy metals or other toxins, so it is important to vary the type of fish consumed and not consume these fish if you are pregnant, nursing, or if your physician has cautioned you against eating fish. The ALA in flax seeds is best digested when the seeds are ground just prior to eating. Flax seeds are also a great source of fiber and lignans, nutrients being investigated for use in the prevention and even treatment of a variety of conditions. 

If you are interested in taking omega-3 fatty acids in supplement form there are a few common sense guidelines:
  • Look for a supplement with more EPA than DHA. A ration of 3:2, EPA to DHA, is common
  • Avoid supplements made from algae oil, which contain only DHA. 
  • Avoid cod liver oil. It is high in vitamin A, which can be toxic in large doses. 
  • Look for brands that meet certification standards, such as the International Fish Oils Standard (IFOS) or the United States Pharmacopeia Convention (USP).
Omega-3 supplements from capsules, liquid or gels are equally effective. Some brands claim to be odorless, however these are usually more expensive. Most people find that taking the supplements with a meal works best.

Julie Beyer, MA, RDN
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

For health care workers:  Interstitial Cystitis: A Guide for Nutrition Educators


 **Please SHARE using the links below!**

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Balancing the Bad with the Good: Managing Stress Helps Manage IC Symptoms

Making Peace with Stress


How are you feeling? I mean really feeling today? As I write this, the world is messy right now. And sad. And confused. And if you are like me, all of this unease can settle in your body as depression and anxiety as well as physical pain. No matter what is happening in your world, sometimes it is helpful to take a break from the "breaking news" and alarming stories we hear day after day.

Yes, bad things happen and as human beings, we want to be "in the know" at all times. But it is becoming too much. Each news story is worse than the last. It is easy to believe some days that the world is truly coming to an end....but let's consciously and deliberately balance what we are putting in our minds. Remember the "random acts of kindness" trend? Let's try that again. Talk to your family. Talk to your neighbor. Look people in the eye and smile...offer to help people who need a hand. Be kind to servers in restaurants and leave a little extra tip. Say something positive to everyone you meet..."you have nice eyes, the color of your shirt lights up your face." Teach a child how to be kind to animals...they will grow to be kind to humans later. Go to a place of worship....or fill yourself with peacefulness by visiting a forest. Take a look at a flower blooming...or a blade of grass....or let sand run through your fingers. Buy an adult coloring book and let your creativity flow. If we change our perception of the world....the world will change.


Julie Beyer, MA, RDN
Author, Speaker, Patient Advocate


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0976724626/ref=nosim/nutraconsults-20 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

For health care workers:  Interstitial Cystitis: A Guide for Nutrition Educators 


 **Please SHARE using the links below!**