Have you ever noticed your pee before you flush it down the toilet? It might sound disgusting, but your urine can tell a great deal about your current state of health.


What is urine

Urine is essentially made up of excess water and waste products that have been filtered by your kidneys from your body. The natural light yellow colour is caused from an excretion of a pigment found in your blood called urochrome. Your urine can range in colours from almost clear (that means you are hydrated) to dark yellow or orange (dehydrated), depending on the amount of fluids you drink.

However do also note that at times the colour of your pee is temporary and may be caused by artificial food colourings or certain prescription medications. It is when you notice an abnormal urine colour or even blood in your urine, which may indicate a serious health problem that should be checked out immediately by a doctor.


What your urine colour is telling you

When your urine is too clear:
• A good indication that you're drinking too much liquid. It's important to stay hydrated at all times, but be careful not to overdo it. A good scale to measure how much liquid you should consume is through your body weight — if you weigh 130 pounds, 65 ounces of water per day should be sufficient for you.
• May be one of the indications of a liver disorder, such as acute viral hepatitis or cirrhosis. Other symptoms to look out for are a jaundiced-like complexion (yellow), nausea, fever and fatigue.

When your urine is bright yellow:
• Vitamin supplements that are being taken in excess or not being absorbed by your body. Take whole food-based vitamin supplements instead for better absorption.

When your urine is dark yellow or gold:
• You are clearly dehydrated. You might want to start gulping down some water now.

When your urine is pink or red:
• When there's blood in the urine, this might indicate a kidney or bladder infection — along with lower back or abdominal pain, urinary urgency, you need to see a doctor immediately.
• Sometimes eating too much pink or red foods like berries and artificially coloured foods can cause discolouration in the urine.
• A side effect of some laxatives.

If your urine is blue or green:
• You've eaten too many green food - especially asparagus or foods that are artificially coloured blue or green.
• A side effect of certain medications — check with your doctor.

When your urine is dark brown or tea coloured:
• A liver disorder, especially if accompanied by pale stools and a yellow, jaundiced complexion.
• A side effect of certain medications.

When your urine is cloudy or murky:
• A urinary tract infection — along with symptoms like lower back or abdominal pain, urinary urgency. See your doctor immediately.
• Kidney stones. You'll also be experiencing a lot of pain, so you need to see your doctor if you are having these signs.


Odour changes

Most times urine doesn't have a very strong smell - but if you do notice a particularly pungent smell, it could be an indication of an infection or urinary stones, which can create an ammonia-like odour. Diabetics might notice that their urine smells sweet, because of excess sugar.

Foods can also cause your urine to smell differently. Asparagus and parkia speciosa (known locally as 'petai' or stink bean) are some of the common culprits — and what causes the odour is actually the breakdown of a sulfur compound in those foods.


How often do you need toilet breaks

The amount of times you go to the toilet can be as important an indicator of your health as the colour or smell of your urine. Most people go to the bathroom about six to eight times a day, but you might go more or less depending on how much fluid you drink.


Healthy bathroom habits

Drink whenever you're feeling thirsty — you don't really need to stick to the eight-glasses-a-day recommendation, unless you are medically inclined to do so. Just stay hydrated, but don't overdo it.

Limit caffeine, which can irritate the lining of the bladder. Also watch your intake of alcohol, which can have similar effects.

Most importantly, don't hold your pee. As soon as you feel the urge to go, find yourself a bathroom.