Happy 2017, y’all! I hope this year will bring relief from all your bladder issues – keep on learning and searching! In today’s post I would like to address something that I personally have been messing around with in the past month. It is the connection between low metabolism and overactive bladder.
This post is based more on my own experience and the work of Matt Stone from 180Degree Health rather than scientific studies.
I have experienced overactive bladder (OAB) for most of my life. Not with a great deal of urgency, but having to go little and often and having to get up at night to go. It was worst when I still had interstitial cystitis but it didn’t quite resolve afterwards.
At the same time I never paid much attention to it – after all it is annoying but it didn’t have a huge impact on my life. You get used to things…
But then I came across the book ‘Eat for Heat’ in which independent health researcher Matt Stone points out that urinary frequency with clear urine that is often coupled with cold hands and feet, low body temperature, trouble sleeping and perhaps hypothyroidism is potentially a sign for a low metabolism.
Nowhere else had I ever come across a connection of these issues. It sounded exactly like me! Mind blown…
Diluted urine as a sign of low metabolic function
All the fluid in our body that is not inside cells is called interstitial fluid (or extracellular fluid). This includes blood and lymph. Typically, this will be around 15 litres. It also contains the main positively charged electrolytes sodium, potassium and calcium.
Children have the highest volume of interstitial fluid in relation to body weight. As we age, the volume of interstitial fluid drops – and so does the blood volume. Typically we will also see a drop in body temperature and metabolism.
As a result, blood circulation may decrease with the potential result of cold hands and feet and dry skin.
With reduced blood volume probably comes a weakened blood concentration (and weakened interstitial fluid). This means that electrolytes are too diluted. We need electrolytes to pass on electrical signals in the body – and reduced signals may lead to reduced function. This may cause the drop in blood volume.
According to Matt Stone, urine is the most outwardly sign of weakened blood concentration. The more concentrated the interstitial fluid is, the more concentrated the urine will probably be.
Moreover, if interstitial fluid and blood become too diluted, the body would probably try to increase its concentration by getting rid of fluids.
Hence the need to urinate frequently.
Over-dilution of body fluids
The prevailing message nowadays is that we need to eat less salt and drink lots and lots of water (probably due to the rising levels of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease).
Whilst dehydration and too much sodium in bodily fluids can cause an array of ill effects and should be avoided, so does over-hydration or over-dilution of body fluids (interstitial fluid and blood).
In fact, over-dilution can even be fatal, causing a condition called ‘hyponatraemia’ in which the brain swells up – all because sodium levels are too diluted.
Before becoming fatal, however, over-dilution could cause many other non-specific symptoms such as irritability, drowsiness, headache, thirst, nausea, cramping and so on.
With diluted electrolytes, bodily functions would probably slow down.
As mentioned above, the body would probably try to restore homeostasis (balance) by excreting excess fluid through urine.
In my case, urinary urgency and frequency pretty much always went hand in hand with cold hands and feet, clear urine, difficulties falling asleep, anxiety and sometimes dizziness.
And that even though I wasn’t drinking huge amounts.
When I first started getting into health, I tried to follow mainstream advice about water consumption – I’d try to guzzle down lots of water without feeling thirsty. I found it extremely hard. I’d get heartburn and would pretty much have to spend my day on the toilet.
So I stopped this practice and followed my thirst more but the frequency issue didn’t start to resolve until I followed some of Matt Stone’s advice.
How to measure urine concentration
The most obvious sign of fluid dilution is the concentration of urine, which we can see in its colour. All animals have yellow pee and so should we probably as well (you can read all about the colour of urine in this article). In my case, clear urine goes hand in hand with increased frequency, coldness and anxiety.
Another way to measure this would be to use a refractometer. Between 3-7.5 brix is probably what we should aim for (‘normal’). Anything lower would indicate over-dilution and anything higher dehydration.
Signs that your overactive bladder may be connected to a low metabolism
The typical signs would probably be the following, as described by Matt Stone and experienced by myself:
- Frequently having to pass urine, often only small amounts
- Clear urine, no matter how much or little fluid has been consumed
- Increased cold hands and feet that go along with urinary frequency
- Increased frequency and coldness after going a longer time without food
- You have a low body temperature (always below 37 degrees)
- Other signs of a low metabolism are: weight gain, sleep issues, constipation, dry skin, brittle hair, digestive issues
How to increase metabolism, fluid concentration and reduce urinary frequency
If you experience the issues described above I’d urge you to read Matt Stone’s book ‘Eat for Heat’ for a detailed description and plan.
But here are a few steps you can take straight away to increase fluid concentration:
- Drink only when you’re thirsty or when you are about to sweat a lot
- Don’t restrict salt. Use a good quality salt liberally
- Make sure you don’t under-eat or over-exercise
- Eat regularly
- Get plenty of rest
- Whenever you feel cold or have a sudden urge to pee or increased frequency – eat a snack with carbohydrates and salt (for me a teaspoon of honey or a date sprinkled with salt works well)
For me personally I had to stop consuming any fluids apart from the ones present in my food in order to start feeling warm and decreasing the urgency to urinate.
However, as these improve we will need more fluids so we should always watch for signs of over-concentration (headache, heavy pulse, feeling too hot).
That’s it for now. Let me know if you’ve experienced any of these issues in the comments!
Pin it for later:
Wikipedia Extracellular Fluid 2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extracellular_fluid
Stone, Matt Eat for Heat (Archangel Ink, 2013)