By Riva Preil
Water is drowning the competition! Since the 1980s, water has provided seriously stiff competition with soda company sales. Michael C. Bellas, chief executive of the Beverage Marketing Corporation, predicts that by the end of this decade, bottled water sales will exceed carbonated beverage sales. From 1993 to 2005, sales of lightweight plastic water bottles grew at a rate of 20% each quarter. Even the First Lady, Michelle Obama, has joined the water bandwagon, and encouraged Americans to drink more water last month along with Coke, (Dasani), PepsiCo (Aquafina), and Nestle Waters. The fact that water has become much more affordable in recent years adds to its appeal, and some stores sell water for as cheap as eight cents a (half liter) bottle! For more details about the increasing popularity of water, please refer to the New York Times article, Bottled Water Sales Rising as Soda Ebbs, by Stephanie Strom.
From your pelvic floor’s perspective, water is a bladder’s best friend. As opposed to coffee, caffeinated teas, and carbonated beverages (all of which are IRRITANTS), water is a NON-IRRITANT. Think of the bladder, also known as the detrusor muscle, as a balloon with elastic-like properties. It is meant to expand fully and completely upon filling. Once adequately filled, the stretch receptors in the bladder wall send the message to your brain which indicates that it is time to go to the bathroom and empty the bladder. However, the bladder is sensitive to the type of fluid that enters. Certain drinks, such as alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, citrus juices and artificial sweeteners are considered bladder irritants. This means that even a small amount of irritant can make the bladder “feel fuller” than larger amounts of non-irritant (aka water)! This fake feeling of fullness causes premature urge sensation, and very often patients will reports that they void frequently, even multiple times per hour, and they also report the feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder (“I have to go again 10 minutes later”). Counter intuitively, the solution is to drink MORE water, ideally eight cups per day! By hydrating the bladder with ample non-irritating water, irritants present in the bladder become diluted, and it allows for improved filling-emptying dynamics. Also…eliminating the aforementioned irritants (my apologies to all you coffee lovers) helps as well.