Thanks to 127 Hours and its cinematic depiction of Aron Ralston’s six days trapped in a slot canyon in southern Utah, we now have a certain visceral sense of what it’s like to be dehydrated, desperately thirsty, and stuck with nothing but your own pee to relieve the agony. And right up there with the big question — could you cut your arm off to survive? – is the secondary query: what about drinking the mellow yellow?
There appears to be little health risk from urophagia except, perhaps, to your social standing. Bacteria that live in the urethra might be passed into the pee, so it’s recommended that you collect your tasty beverage in midstream, letting the bacteria wash away in the first few seconds. Otherwise, it ain’t gonna kill you.
Will it save your life? In Ralston’s case, it certainly looks that way. But survival experts don’t recommend it. Urine is high in salt that’s been expelled from your body and drinking it simply adds that salt back into the system, where the kidneys must process it again. The Army says don’t. And the two leading TV survivor dudes are split on the issue, in fairly characteristic ways: Bear Grylls says do it (and has), while Les Stroud of Survivorman says you should extract fresh water from urine using a solar still.
Most of us will never find ourselves in a situation that requires such extreme measures. So from this safe remove, let’s consider what circumstances might lead to the consumption, as Aron put it, of a “fine savignon blanc”.
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