In This Article
Yes, I wrote an article called “The Perfect Poop,” and now it seems only fitting to also discuss the subtleties of “the perfect pee.”
I am sure you all spend hours trying to figure out why it bubbles, runs clear, dark, pink, yellow, green, brown, its pH, or why drinking alcohol can send one running to the bathroom.
According to Ayurveda, much can be learned about your body’s health from a quick urine analysis.
Join me as we take a peek and decipher what your pee might be trying to tell you!
Why is it Yellow Anyway?
Urine gets its pretty yellow color from urobilinogen, which is a byproduct of bilirubin, which is a byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells from the liver. Bilirubin enters the kidneys and breaks down into yellow urobilins, which make the urine yellow. This depends much on the concentration, or specific gravity, of the urine. Basically, if you drink a lot of water, the urobilins will be diluted. If you are dehydrated, the urobilins become concentrated, and the urine becomes a darker yellow.
Too many B vitamins, certain herbs like senna, and certain medications can also make the urine very yellow.
The Drinker’s Pee
Interestingly, within 20 minutes after ingesting an alcoholic beverage, the body’s level of ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) plummets, which basically opens the floodgates, resulting in lots of clear urine in an attempt to help detox the indigestible spirits. If you keep drinking, you will keep urinating yourself into a state of dehydration. This is one of the main causes of a hangover. The kidneys—which usually filter the bad stuff and save the water—are in flush-it-all-out mode when drinking alcohol… so, drinker beware!
Bubbles in the urine can be caused by a strong stream causing turbulence in the bowl, but they can also be caused by too many proteins spilling over into the urine. This can be a serious concern that your doctor can screen with a simple dipstick urinalysis.
How Much Should We Pee?
Of course, the correct amount of pee per day depends on how much you drink. To determine how much water we should drink, let’s look at how much water is lost each day that needs replenishing.
Water Lost Each Day
- Average fluid loss from urination: 1.5 liters
- Fluid loss from breathing, sweat, and poo: 1.0 liters
- Total: 2.5 liters
- Average water content in food: .5 liters per day
- To replenish lost fluids: 2.0 liters per day or 8-8oz glasses/day
Note: These are numbers without exercise, which can raise the needs of rehydration significantly. I recommend drinking half of your ideal body weight in ounces of water each day. On average, this is slightly more than the 8 glass-a-day plan.
If you haven’t gone on a long bike ride recently and you are experiencing pain during urination, you might have a bladder, kidney or urinary stone or infection and need to go see your medical doctor. It could also be caused by a long bike ride and not being used to the seat pressure, and your urethra may just take a few minutes to thaw out.
In some cases, painful urination can be the result of a diet that is too acidic. This means too many brown foods and not enough green foods. A diet rich in breads, carbs, sweets, processed foods, and desserts can create an overly acidic chemistry and cause painful urination. Once you have ruled out any serious issues with your MD, try a more alkaline diet that includes LOTS of green vegetables.
Red or Pink Pee
The most common cause of reddish or pinkish pee is blood in the urine. It can be normal if caused by eating red roots (such as beets or manjistha). However, you should always see your medical doctor, to rule out any serious issues.
Another possible cause of reddish-hue is a build-up of urates in the urine.
An old Ayurvedic technique to tell if it is, in fact, blood in the urine is to heat up the reddish urine. Urates will dissolve in the heating process and the urine will clear up. Blood, on the other hand, will not clear up.
Cloudy urine can be a sign of infection and requires a trip to the doctor. It can also be a build-up of metabolites in the urine. It is possible that harmless phosphates can build up and cloud the urine.
At-Home Test: If you add vinegar to the urine, the acid in the vinegar will dissolve the phosphate crystals and the urine will clear.
Green or Brown Pee
This is a sign that bile is spilling into the urine. This is caused by a blockage of the bile ducts. This is a medical condition, so you should see your doctor. When bile cannot get into the intestines, which is needed to turn the stool brown, the stool becomes white or clay-colored. The bile then finds its way into the bloodstream, where it can turn the urine a greenish-brown color.
That distinctive aroma that can be detected within 15 minutes of eating asparagus comes from a group of sulfur-containing compounds. These compounds are quickly absorbed into the blood during digestion, and then quickly filtered through the kidneys and urine.
It turns out that only 50% of the population has the genes to smell these compounds, so some of you will not know what I am talking about according to the latest experts on pee. It is also said that if you cut off the tips of the asparagus, you won’t get that strong urine smell.
Ayurvedic Urine Evaluation
A traditional assessment of the pee, or mutra as it is known in Ayurveda, is based on body type. Of course, there are slight variations according to the influences of vata, pitta, and kapha, and it is best to have a current evaluation of your body type. This is easy and can be done by filling out our free Body Type Questionnaire.
Start with your first morning urination. It is best to capture a midstream sample in a clear glass jar.
The Perfect Pee
Since most people have a body type that is a combination of vata, pitta, and kapha, we can look for normal urination to be: light yellow in color, 1.5 liters a day, painless, complete and not frequent, with a midstream morning pH of 7. (This may vary based on body type – see chart above).
The Last Filter of the Body
The urine is the last filter of the body. If you begin to see changes in the urine, I suggest looking upstream into the digestion to find the real culprit. The best place to start: your digestion!
Josh Richman, Anish Sheth MD, What’s My Pee Telling Me? Chronicle Books. San Francisco 2009 Vasant Lad. Textbook of Ayurveda. Vol 2. The Ayurvedic Press. New Mexico. 2006.