Today we’re going to get really intimate because the topic of conversation concerns something very personal, something few people dare to discuss. That’s right, we’re talking about pee and just how much you can learn when nature calls. So bear with us because we cover some really eye-opening stuff, and we have to say, it’s truly surprising just how much your pee says about your health.

Color: There are tons of factors that determine urine color, the simplest of which is whether or not you’re well hydrated. If you’re not drinking enough water your pee will be a shade of deep amber or honey, and if you are getting the proper amount of fluids it’ll be closer to clear. Simply put, the darker your pee, the more water you need to drink throughout the day. Also, taking certain vitamins and medications or eating densely-colored veggies like beets can change the color from yellow to pink or even light blue, so don’t be alarmed if that’s the case!

Smell: Your pee shouldn’t typically have a strong smell, but if it does the cause could be as simple as one of your last meals containing asparagus, which breaks down into sulfuric-scented compounds within just 30 minutes of ingestion. If you haven’t noshed on this green vegetable recently but you notice a distinct, ammonia-like smell it could be due to a urinary tract infection, dehydration or certain medications. These conditions can seriously affect your health so it’s important that you notify your doctor if you catch a whiff of something funky in your pee that’s not asparagus related.

pH Balance: Another way pee is an excellent indicator of overall health is through its pH levels, which can be easily tested with an at-home urine analysis kit. The test determines the body’s alkalinity or acidity, or its pH balance, and the goal is to hover between a neutral pH level of 7.0 and 7.45. So the lower the number, the more acidic your pH and the higher the number, the more alkaline your pH. Most people wind up on the acidic side because of poor eating habits or stress, but finding the perfect pH balance is as easy as adding more alkalizing foods to your diet like green vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.

Visuals: Photograph by Mario Testino & Painting by Mark Rothko