Lifestyle Practices For Optimizing Bladder Health
For most of human history, we effortlessly consumed (nose-to-tail) the things we needed for strength, health, and happiness. Like the fertile ground that we once walked upon, we were a natural extension of this earth. In the modern world, we unknowingly struggle to fulfill our nutritional needs in order to support and sustain a vibrant, disease-free life. We are now part of a world where our bladder health is in sharp decline... with over one-third of our people suffering with chronic and recurrent bladder conditions related to pain, incontinence and urinary tract infections. [2.3] The solution is to address the root cause with dietary, lifestyle, and behavioral choices while nourishing and supporting our bladder with proven anthropological ways that are backed by modern science.
Understanding the Urinary System and What it Needs to Thrive
While so many people today struggle with incontinence, urinary infections, painful bladder syndrome, and more… understanding the urinary system and then applying ancestral wisdom to our lifestyle can make all the difference.
The entire urinary system is essentially a filtration, regulation, and excretion system that involves multiple organs in its processes. The kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra all work together to form our urinary system. This system’s most well known function is it’s role of cleansing and detoxifying, as it filters blood through the kidneys and produces urine to remove waste products from our body. However, the urinary system has far more influence in the body than it’s esteemed responsibility of fluid transformation and excretion... It helps to maintain homeostasis, as it is responsible for electrolyte balance, hormone production, controlling the composition and volume of blood, and maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Did you know that our urinary system has its own microbiome? Yep! Recent studies challenge the long-held paradigm that a healthy bladder is sterile. Just like how our gut has its own microbiome that influences our digestion, absorption of nutrients, and even our mental and emotional patterns... our urinary system has a microbiome that influences immune response, muscle signalling, and supports its optimal function. If the urinary microbiome is out of balance and overrun with pathogenic bacteria one may suffer from interstitial cystitis, UTIs, spasmodic bladder, etc. *(6)
Unfortunately, most healthcare practitioners are unaware this microbiome even exists, nor are they aware of how to support it. In the modern world, most people treat UTIs with antibiotics which further disrupt the urinary microbiome, not to mention the gut microbiome too!
The good news is, there’s are other ways to support bladder health… by adhering to the ways of our ancestors and consuming the whole animal (nose-to-tail). Supporting the urinary microbiome has been shown to reduce the risk of UTIs as well as the severity of incontinence in randomized trial participants.*(6)
Located within the pelvic cavity, just above and behind the pubic bone sits our trusted bladder. Flexible, yet muscular, this organ is about the size and shape of a pear when empty and expands to the size of a softball when full. The inside layer of the bladder is lined with rugae... these are the ridges that allow the bladder to expand and contract (rugae exist in our stomach and intestines too!). Once our bladder reaches maximum capacity, stretch receptors send signals to the brain that say “it’s time to drain the main vein!” If the bladder is infected, inflammation can interfere with signals between the brain and bladder, which leads to involuntary muscle contractions, causing less than desirable accidents... or worse, an adult dependent on diapers and other external support products for incontinence.
[NOTE: In men, an enlarged prostate will inhibit the natural flow and function of the urethra, as the prostate gland surrounds it. If you’re a man struggling with bladder pain, incontinence, etc. you might also consider supporting your prostate health with our Beef Prostate. ]
An adequate supply of vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes, and peptides, are required to support the optimal function of the bladder, ureters, and urethra.
KIDNEY... rich in B12, Selenium, & DAO supports optimal kidney health and detoxification pathways
Our kidneys are large, bean-shaped organs towards the back of the abdomen. Located in the lower part of our bellies, the right kidney is slightly lower in position than the left, allowing room for the liver. The kidneys have several functions including excretion, regulation, and the production of a few key hormones and enzymes.
Kidneys are responsible for the elimination of water-soluble metabolic waste and foreign materials. They regulate the volume of fluids and the concentration of various electrolytes in the body. A rather complex system of tubes within the kidneys filter substances such as sodium (salt) and chloride. Minerals that we need will be reabsorbed into the bloodstream, while toxins and excess minerals will be released via the urine.
As it relates to hormone production, the kidneys produce renin and erythropoietin and convert Vitamin D (from sun, food, or supplements) into its "bioactive" form. Renin is important for regulating blood pressure, and erythropoietin helps to produce red blood cells. Most of the vitamin D in our blood is actually inactive until it is transformed by the liver, then activated by the kidneys. Active vitamin D stimulates the uptake of calcium from food and also helps to regulate the response of the immune system to infection. Low Vitamin D stores have been shown to increase susceptibility to urinary tract infections.
The kidneys also produce the enzyme DAO which inhibits histamine. For those with histamine intolerance (an overabundance of histamine and a definciney of DAO) histamine can enter the urinary tract, weaken the urothelium, and allow toxins from urine to spill back into the bloodstream. Grass Fed Kidney provides comprehensive and systemic histamine support with targeted mechanisms as it contains DAO, selenium, B12, endogenous methyl donors, and supports methylation.
An adequate supply of kidney specific vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and peptides are required to support the optimal function of the urinary system. Bovine Kidney contains all of these specific nutrients and has been shown to support *:
- Optimal Kidney Health Based On "Like Supports Like"
- Histamine Metabolism & Detoxification
- Electrolyte balance and reduced fluid retention
- Vitality, Energy, & Thyroid Health (high in B12 and selenium)
LIVER... rich in vitamin A, B12, choline, folate, riboflavin & many other powerful nutrients that most people are deficient in.
Nestled in our abdomen above the stomach and spleen, sits one of our largest internal organs, the liver. While not directly included in the urinary system, our liver may be the most essential organ relating to it. Our liver participates in over 500 vital biological functions. As it relates to urinary functions, the liver plays a major role in blood filtration. All blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver, where the liver breaks down, balances, and converts the nutrients into forms that are easier for the rest of the body to utilize. Our liver is responsible for clearing our blood of toxic substances, breaking down old or damaged blood cells, and producing urea… which the kidneys will release later as urine. A healthy liver will support healthy kidneys and thus... a healthy bladder!
It’s true… every system in our body relies on the liver. Liver is nature's most nutrient dense superfood and it's the only meaningful source of fully formed vitamin A (retinol), which is critical to healthy cell repair. Liver provides fundamental building blocks like vitamin A, vitamin B12, choline, folate and heme iron to support virtually all biological functions including methylation, detoxification, and blood filtration. If our liver health is ailing, all other systems will fail. Consuming Grass Fed Beef Liver supports all tissues and fundamental health.
FOUR PRACTICES for A BETTER BLADDER
Mind Your Magnesium Levels-
When we begin to increase our intake of nourishing, nutrient-rich foods such as organ meats, our vitamin, mineral and protein status increases including those that interact with vitamins A and D. Therefore, our need for magnesium increases. Our needs for magnesium will always vary based on diet and environmental stressors. That said, I always suggest every customer that is new to taking our Ancestral Supplements (or adding any more of our products to their regimen) also starts increasing their magnesium intake.
Magnesium ensures our muscles and nerves function properly, and many health experts believe that magnesium can actually improve incontinence symptoms by reducing bladder muscle spasms. By consuming adequate amounts of magnesium, we can reap even more benefits from nose-to-tail nutrition.
Retrain Your Muscles-
Strength training with squats, overhead presses, deadlift, kettlebell swings, etc. will help to build overall muscle and core strength, reduce abdominal fat, and can help to reduce pressure on your bladder. Our bladder is a muscular organ. The walls of the bladder are mainly formed by detrusor muscle, which allows the bladder to contract and expand. You can support the detrusor muscle with strength training… Yep, just like your daily workout in the gym, you should build a daily pelvic floor routine.
So how do you build a pelvic floor strengthening routine? I’d suggest targeted strength training with kegels. A kegel is essentially a pelvic floor contraction. (If you don’t know how to contract your pelvic floor, try stopping your pee mid stream-- that’s the muscle contraction we’re focusing on.) Pretty simple. Here is a general rep scheme: Contract the pelvic floor muscles and hold as long as you can. Do 3 sets of 20 reps. This should take less than 5 minutes and you can literally do this anywhere, anytime, no equipment necessary.
Consider Your Water Source-
At one point you may have considered consuming less water with the intention of going to the bathroom less often. While this sounds like a good short term solution, dehydrating yourself is an unfortunate trade off. More concentrated urine, usually darker in color, can irritate your bladder and cause more issues. The goal should always be to return the body to normal functioning so you can enjoy a rich quality of life and optimal health.
I’d suggest increasing water consumption in order to frequently flush bacteria and toxins from the urinary tract. That said, only drink high quality native spring water. Tap water, plastic bottled water, low quality filtered water will do you no good. These impure water sources are laden with chemicals, micro plastics, pharmaceuticals, etc. which will always cause more damage. Other foods and drinks that can contribute to overactive bladder symptoms include: alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, citrus fruits, tomatoes, coffee, soda, spicy foods, & tea
Consider returning to the ways of our ancestors and collecting your own pure spring water… Check out findaspring.org or look for a local high quality, glass bottled spring water. Drink up! Stay hydrated!
Clean Up Your Diet (Keto or Carnivore)-
A standard ketogenic/paleo/primal diet can fix most health issues over time and can be remarkably therapeutic. That said, if you have chronic or recurrent urinary infections I suggest doing a true nose-to-tail carnivore diet (without eggs or dairy) for 30 days. You'd be amazed at how many people require this to regain the best version of themselves.
A typical diet for most modern people is high in sugar and carbs which feeds harmful bacteria and runs down the immune system, opening the door for UTI's and recurrent infections. Unfortunately even many modern diets touted to be health conscious may be contributing to bladder issues. For example, plant based diets, or even just the simple “healthy” addition of a daily spinach salad, kale smoothie, green juice, etc. can aggravate the urinary system as these foods load you up with oxalates, leading to kidney stones and bladder irritations. Removing oxalates from your diet (try nose-to-tail carnivore) is one of the most beneficial things you can do to support your bladder and kidney health. Oxalate crystals (only found in plant foods) can get lodged in our soft tissues and cause a myriad of health problems, including kidney stones, joint problems and bladder issues. Oxalate toxicity symptoms tend to be very insidious... proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects.
Clean up your diet by considering a primal ketogenic diet, or for those of you who have recurrent infections, irritated bladder, or kidney issues, consider a nose to tail carnivore diet for at least 30 days.
Sources and References
- Fishman, Stanley A. "The Benefits of Organ Meats." Tender Grassfed Meat. N.p., 09 Dec. 2014. Web. 17 June 2017.
- "Spleen, 500mg, 180 Capsules." Dr. Ron's Ultra-Pure. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 June 2017
- Lee R. Bladder Cytotrophin. In Product Bulletins, circa 1950.
- Lee R. Kidney Cytotrophin. In Product Bulletins, circa 1950.Lee R, Hanson W. Protomorphology: The Principles of Cell Auto-Regulation. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, Milwaukee, 1947