As we've learned this month, proper hydration has a significant impact on just about every organ function. This, as you could have guessed, applies directly to your urinary tract. We reached out to Urologist Mehran Movassaghi, who focuses in men's urinary health, and learned a bit more about the role hydration really plays in our urinary health.
How much water should you drink every day and how should someone determine this amount?
Water intake depends on several factors:
Amount of activity: sitting all day vs running a marathon require different amounts of water
Weather/climate: dry, warm weather requires more water intake as a general rule
Looking at the color of the urine is a good tool, if its dark yellow/amber you’re likely dehydrated, the clearer the urine the better. The one caveat to this is dependent on what type of foods or vitamins you’re taking. For example, vitamin C can make urine a bright and sometimes vivid yellow, no matter how hydrated you are. Also, in the morning, urine is more concentrated since it is stored in the bladder. Judge hydration by the color of urine throughout the day.
How does hydration directly impact and benefit a man’s urinary tract?
Kidneys are the body’s filtration system. They need water in order to filter out the waste products. Without it, the waste can form kidney stones once they combine with different substances that are normally excreted. Calcium and oxalate for example are normally found in urine, however if there is minimal solvent (ie water) then they bind forming the most common type of stone- calcium oxalate stones
The bladder has 2 functions:
Store urine: this is not dependent on fluid status
Expel urine: without adequate hydration, the wall of the bladder is not distended enough and the stream of the urine can be weak, this can lead to incomplete bladder emptying and possibly urinary tract infection and bladder stones.
As a urologist, you focus on both the urinary tract and men’s reproductive organs. Does hydration impact the function of men’s reproductive organs and if so, in what ways?
Water is the universal solvent, it is involved in multiple processes. For men, dehydration can lead to decreased sperm quality and less volume of semen. The majority of nutrients the sperm need as they travel from the male GU tract to the female GU tract is in the semen.
What are some of the common impacts/dangers you see from people who are dehydrated?
Dehydration can lead to a multitude of problems including:
Heat exhaustion/heat stroke
Low blood pressure/fainting
Loss of skin elasticity
It’s been said before that hydration impacts your mental health and brain function. Do what degree is this true and if true, how dehydrated do you have to be for this to take effect?
True. The brain is highly sensitive to water and hydration status. A study that studied both young men and women found even mild dehydration by 1-3% lead to impaired mood and concentration and increased frequency of headaches in women. In men working memory, anxiety and fatigue were elevated when only 1.6% fluid loss was experienced in otherwise young health men.
How do electrolytes play a role in hydration and do sports drinks really work?
Electrolytes play a vital role in many of the body’s functions ranging from nerve conduction to muscle contraction. In maintaining hydration, they allow the proper balance of fluid between the inside and outside of cells. Sodium plays the most important role in this allowing cells to maintain balance through osmosis. Sports drinks help support this role as well as nourish the muscles and nerves which are recruited with sports activities.
Is there a general rule of thumb for how much men should drink while working out?
Judge this based on the color of the urine. Also if taking any pre-workouts that have high levels of stimulants (caffeine, tuarine, etc), these serve as a diuretic which can result in a net negative water loss even further.
Is it possible or healthy hydro-load prior to a big event (e.g. marathon) like you carbo-load?
Not really, our bodies are not designed to store extra water (unlike camels for example) therefore if you drink too much prior to a run then you will likely pee it out before the race. However being adequately hydrated so that at least the tank is full is importance.
Are all the supposed benefits of lemon water true?
Generally yes, they have high levels of vitamin C (which is an immunity booster and also plays a role in cancer prevention, they have high levels of citrate which can help lower risk of kidney stones, they have pectin in them which can expand and make you feel fuller, therefore helping to lose weight as well as digest food more efficiently.
Any tips for staying hydrated while avoiding countless trips to the bathroom?
Remember if you drink a lot, then you will pee a lot—that’s your body working well. However avoiding drinks high in sugar and caffeine will help you manage your trips to the bathroom as these are known diuretics which will stimulate the bladder even if it’s not at capacity.