Bear Grylls is a reality TV star - meaning it is not an accurate reflection of reality at all! Sure, drinking urine for a well hydrated individual in a non-survival scenario is probably fine. Gross, but fine. However, things change in a survival situation. And Bear Grylls’ body is not taxed like it would be in a real (not reality TV) survival situation.
First, what is urine? Urine is filtered waste from the kidneys. Other than water, it usually contains salts and other compounds like proteins, hormones, ammonia, formaldehyde, and other metabolic waste products. If the kidneys cannot filter this waste, our bodily systems shift out the norm, leading to terrible consequences, even death.
The high concentration of salts in your urine will further dehydrate you. It might induce vomiting as well. Vomiting and diarrhea is a route of rapid fluid loss. This would make things a whole lot worse. With all this in mind, it is not surprising that the Wilderness Medical Society, the U.S. Army, and many others do not support Bear Grylls’ suggestion of drinking urine to survive.
As a side note, water will not be absorbed from your urinary bladder itself. You do not have to avoid urination, let it flow. Recent research suggests that urine may not be as sterile as previously thought. And if it is, it’s only sterile in the bladder. Once it passes through the urethra and genitals, is it no longer sterile.
On the opposite end, it is possible to drink too much water. Read about that in about that here.
What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment below.
Safe adventures from Base Medical! Check out our online outdoor safety courses to prepare you for your next big adventure.