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Hydration—How Important Is It? (Part One)
Many of our patients at Novus Medical Detox Center are “veterans” of prior medical detox facilities. The present record is nine previous medical detox programs before the patient came to Novus. These “veterans” often compare their detox experience at Novus to their previous medical detoxes. They tell us that they love having a private room. They rave about the food and they tell us how much they like our staff. They tell us how much they appreciate being treated as an individual and not just a “type” based on their substance. But primarily they tell us how much better they are feeling in a much shorter time than at any previous medical detox.
Our patients tell us that one treatment that they know makes them feel better is the vitamin IV that is given during each of the first three days of their stay and sometimes every day of their stay. Our vitamin IV consists of a saline solution containing certain vitamins, minerals and amino acids. After the IV, they tell us that they feel better and a variety of symptoms they were experiencing have either lessened or even disappeared. We also encourage our patients to drink water with electrolytes and vitamin C powder throughout the day.
The vitamin IVs and electrolyte drinks not only provide vital nutrients, but they also provide something that may be more important to a person who has been taking an opioid, drinking alcohol or taking other prescription drugs-hydration. Ensuring that our patients are hydrated is a vital and, according to our patients, omitted part of the medical protocol at most other medical detoxes. The purpose of this newsletter is to provide some of the reasons why hydration is so important to all of us and particularly to people going through any type of medical detox.
WHAT IS HYDRATION?
The Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary defines hydration as, “the condition of having adequate fluid in the body tissues.” We know that in order to have “adequate fluid” in the body, it takes more than just pouring water down your throat for a few minutes. One doctor compared hydrating the body to the way a sponge absorbs water. Hydration in the body happens over time and most of the water we drink or obtain from the foods we eat is not absorbed and retained by the body but is passed out as urine and sweat.
WHAT IS DEHYDRATION?
Dehydration is the opposite of hydration and means that the body does not contain as much water as it should.
Dehydration is generally classified as:
- Mild-between 1-3 percent loss of fluid impairs your body’s performance
- Moderate-between 4-9 percent loss of fluid further impairs your body’s performance and commonly leads to heat exhaustion
- Severe-a 10 percent or greater loss of fluid which can be life-threatening
WHAT ARE ELECTROLYTES?
Electrolytes are salts that conduct electricity and are found in the body fluid, tissue, and blood. Electrolytes in your body are essential for normal function of your cells and organs and also play a major role in keeping the body hydrated. The most common electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium and calcium.
Electrolytes are used by cells in the body to carry electrical impulses signaling activities such as muscle contractions and other nerve impulses to other cells. Properly hydrated, the kidneys work to keep the electrolyte concentrations in the blood constant even if you are exercising and sweating or having diarrhea. If your body is deficient in electrolytes, it will have a very hard time functioning properly and also keeping hydrated.
WATER AND OUR CELLS
Water is a molecule composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. All of us are aware that our bodies are composed of cells. These cells make up all of your vital organs like the heart, liver and kidneys. Of the water in your body, it is estimated that approximately 65% is contained inside the cells and 35% outside the cells.
My first experience with the effects of water on cell activity was in junior high school. Our teacher took a drop from a beaker of pond water and put it on a slide under a microscope. When I looked through the microscope, I saw the cells moving rapidly around. However, as the water began to evaporate, the cell activity became slower and slower. The teacher then put some more of the pond water on the slide and suddenly the cells became very active again.
When your body is not properly hydrated, the cells in your body start to slow their activity and try to minimize the water that they use. This means that your organs will not operate as they should and this leads to many problems in how your body functions.
Your body relies on chemical reactions to provide the energy and communications needed for it to function. These chemical reactions rely on fluids in the body. As an infant, your body is composed of 75% water and as you age, this percentage of water reduces to about 60%.
Even as an adult, water makes up approximately 85% of your brain. Blood, which carries nutrients to every part of the body and carries away the waste material in your body, is composed of about 94% water.
When patients are going through a medical detox program, it is even more important that all their organs are working in an optimal manner to deal with the stress of detox. Otherwise, it is like going up a hill in an eight cylinder car with only four cylinders working. You may make it up the hill but it will be really hard.
HOW DO WE KEEP OUR BODY HYDRATED?
Normally a person takes water into the body by drinking fluids (approximately 50% of the total water intake) and through eating foods that contains water (the remaining 50% of the water intake). Many people are surprised when they hear that as much as 50% of the water that they consume during the day comes from foods. Most fruits and vegetables are as much as 95% water and even lean meats are as much as 70% water.
Fluid is removed from the body in the following ways:
- Through our urine — about 56%
- In our fecal matter — about 10%
- Through the lungs — about 13%
- Through sweat and evaporation through the skin — about 21%.
Next week, we will discuss the effects of dehydration on the body and how you can ensure that you keep your body hydrated. At Novus Medical Detox Center, our interest is always to find a natural solution rather than a drug. What could be more natural than water?
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