Is Pesto IC Friendly?

IC sufferer

Short answer
All seven ingredients that feature in a traditional basil pesto are interstitial cystitis-friendly, but this may not be the case with pestos that deviate from the classic recipe.

Long answer
There's no one size fits all when it comes to dietary advice for sufferers of interstitial cystitis (IC). The most known foods to avoid include caffeine, alcohol, and citrus fruits, but everyone's triggers are different.

When it comes to pesto and IC, there's some good news and some bad news. The good news is that all seven ingredients in the official recipe for pesto, olive oil, basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and two cheeses, are classified as being IC-friendly. This means that, in theory, you can continue to enjoy pesto as part of your recovery or long-term management of your condition.

The caveat to this is that some store-bought pestos can be quite acidic, so if you can see from the label that they contain large amounts of lemon juice, vinegar, or other acids, you may have to resort to making it yourself.

The main complications begin when you start to consider all the other kinds of pesto, as many of them may contain ingredients that you hadn't at first considered. In particular, the second most common pesto sold in the UK is a version of Trapanese pesto (often just called "red pesto"), which features lots of fresh or sun-dried tomatoes. Sadly, tomatoes are to be avoided on an IC diet, so this style of sauce is strictly off-limits.

Another ingredient to keep an eye out for is chilli, as this is included in quite a few pestos. This, along with all spicy foods, is not advised as it can exacerbate bladder pain.

Don't be surprised if you also encounter some pesto sauces that contain unexpected or left-field ingredients. For example, there is one pesto available in the UK that features cured meat in the form of 'nduja, so, as always, check the label and make sure you know exactly what you're consuming.