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Can Certain Foods and Beverages Cause Cloudy Urine?

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Did you know that the color and odor of our urine can key us into possible medical conditions that need treatment? Or, as anybody who’s eaten asparagus knows, it might just be reflecting what you ate! So let’s tackle the topic: “Why’s My Urine Cloudy?” We don’t have cute illustrations to accompany this article, but here are some guidelines about what causes cloudy urine

How Do I Know If My Urine is Normal? What is Cloudy Urine?

If you notice something strange about your urine, the first rule of thumb is: Don’t panic. Any number of foods can affect your pee. For example, after eating beets, about 10-15% of the population discover a reddish color to their stool and, sometimes, their urine. Of course, that phenomenon initially seems alarming—it’s easy to imagine you’re excreting blood! But if you’ve recently eaten a serving of the purplish-red root vegetables, then you’re most likely experiencing a harmless side effect of digestion.

Urine can be many different colors. Healthy urine is typically pale yellow, although anywhere on the spectrum from clear to dark yellow is common. If your urine is always colorless, you might actually be drinking too much water; if it’s a very bright or deep yellow, you might be dehydrated. If your urine appears cloudy or milky instead of clear, you might have a serious medical condition; or it might merely be the result of your diet.

What Causes Cloudy Urine?

Let’s be clear as we discuss the possible causes of why your urine might look strange. Although milky or cloudy urine can be harmless, sometimes the cause can be serious. If the cloudiness persists, you should absolutely call your doctor’s office to discuss the matter with a professional.

For example, cloudy urine can be caused by:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Kidney stones
  • Sexually transmitted infection
  • Prostate problems in men
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

While these possibilities sound dire, we’re not trying to scare anyone. We’re just saying, it’s wise to pay attention to what’s going on with your body. If something isn’t right, your own eyes and nose can function as your early-warning detectors.

Diet and Cloudy Urine

On the other hand, diet significantly affects urine. Cloudy urine can be the result of dehydration, and certain foods and beverages can contribute to that.

Another possibility is that your diet contains high levels of phosphorus, purines, salt and/or sugar. The byproduct of your body digesting these substances is uric acid, which can increase the alkaline levels in your pee, turning it cloudy. Worth noting: High levels of uric acid in the body over time can cause uric acid crystals to form, possibly leading to gout.

“In most cases, cloudy urine is harmless due to natural changes that your body goes through,” according to the Cleveland Clinic, an academic medical center that focuses on research, education and health information. “Normally, it goes away quickly when you stay hydrated and incorporate a healthy diet into your daily routine.”

6 Foods That Cause Cloudy Urine

If you’ve ruled out any medical reasons for your cloudy urine, you might want to take a look at your diet. As we mentioned, certain foods that are high in phosphorus, purines, salt and/or sugar can cause uric acid to build up in your body, leading to cloudy urine. Here’s a list of foods to consider cutting down on to relieve symptoms.

Milk and Dairy Products

The dairy family offers a multitude of nutritional benefits beyond protein and calcium. Among those is phosphorus, another micronutrient essential to bone health. But an excess of phosphorus can be released in your urine, turning it cloudy.

Meat

Similar to dairy, some meat contains phosphorus. In addition, cured and/or processed meats—such as bacon, pepperoni, salami—contain high amounts of sodium, which can also contribute to cloudy urine.

RELATED: Are All Hot Dogs Unhealthy?

Seafood

Certain kinds of seafood, particularly anchovies, herring and scallops, contain high levels of purines, which can cause cloudy urine. And the elevated sodium levels in fish such as anchovies provides a one-two punch.

RELATED: The 5 Healthiest Fish to Eat (and 12 You Should Avoid)

Salty or Sugary Junk Food

As explained, too much sodium in your diet can cause cloudy urine. So can too much sugar, particularly fructose (think high fructose corn syrup), which can cause your body to produce uric acid, leading to the same effect on your pee. Yet another reason to avoid processed foods with tons of added salt or sugar!

Tea and Coffee

We’ve documented plenty of benefits to drinking coffee or tea, and that advice hasn’t changed. But one thing to be aware of: Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it makes you go to the bathroom more often. Therefore, although it seems counterintuitive, drinking a lot of caffeinated beverages (particularly coffee or espresso) can lead to dehydration, which can cause cloudy urine.

“Drinking a cup or two a day shouldn’t be an issue,” says Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, who is the founder of Nutritious Life. “This is because the water in the coffee or tea helps offset the diuretic effects of the caffeine. On the other hand, research shows that drinking large amounts of caffeinated beverages can lead to an increased risk of dehydration.”

The solution: Drink some water before you go for that third or fourth cup of java.

Alcohol

As with caffeine, alcohol has a diuretic effect on the kidneys, which can cause you to pee too much and become dehydrated. Again, the solution we love to preach: Drink more water!

More Reading

3 Weeks Without Alcohol: The Key to More Energy, Better Sleep and Radiant Skin

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