Dehydration – A Definition
Dehydration is the loss of water and electrolytes from the body. Water is needed to maintain enough blood and other fluids for the body to function properly. The body uses fluids to expel toxins and for lubrication in order to keep everything running smoothly. Along with fluids, the body also needs electrolytes, which are salts (sodium, chloride, potassium, and bicarbonate) found in the blood, other fluids, and cells. A lack of electrolytes in the body can interfere with the chemical reactions needed for healthy cell function. If a significant amount of fluids and salts are lost and not quickly replaced, the body starts to become dehydrated.
Dehydration and Digestion – The Stomach
The most important organ for the process of human digestion is the stomach. The stomach secretes acids to break down proteins and sterilize foods. One of the most common acids is hydrochloric acid (HCI).
Once food has begun to be broken down, the stomach contents pass through the pyloric sphincter, which connects the stomach to the small intestine. The lining of the small intestine is not protected against HCI like the stomach lining is, so the HCI must be neutralized. This is a function of the pancreas. The pancreas secretes bicarbonate ions, which neutralizes the HCI, making it safe for the stomach contents to enter the small intestine.
Large amounts of water are needed to produce enough bicarbonate ions to neutralize the HCI. If the pancreas does not have enough water to do its job, the contents of the stomach will not be allowed to move along. Instead, they remain in the stomach, significantly slowing down the digestive process.
As well as affecting HCI neutralization, a stomach without sufficient water is the perfect environment for H.pylori bacteria to colonize.
Dehydration and its effects on the Colon
If the body is not supplied with enough water to support the vital organs (the brain, lungs, kidneys, liver and glands), it will borrow water from the gastro-intestinal tract. A colon without sufficient water will produce hard stools and become constipated. This can put pressure on the stomach. Constipation can also damage the colon lining.
Without sufficient amounts of water the colon can also reabsorb its water reserves. Without clean water to utilize, it will use wastewater, which needs to be filtered through the liver and kidneys, which may place additional strain on these organs.
Dehydration causes, signs and symptoms
There are many causes of dehydration. The most common are:
· diuretic medications
· not drinking enough water
Vigorous exercise and heat can also cause dehydration.
The signs and symptoms of mild dehydration in adults appear when the body has lost about 2% of its total fluid.
Symptoms of early or mild dehydration include:
· flushed face
· extreme thirst
· dry, warm skin
· decreased amounts of urine or unable to pass urine
· dark yellow urine
· dizziness made worse by standing
· cramping in the arms and legs
· dry mouth and tongue
· thick saliva
During an average day, an adult living in a temperate climate loses approximately 2.5 litres of water, through breathing, sweating, urinating and bowel movements. Vigorous exercise can cause the body to lose more than 2 litres an hour.
To prevent dehydration you need to replace the liquids that are lost throughout the day. The amount of water needed varies from one person to another. Aqualibria recommend drinking a litre of water for every 50lb of body weight. This is based on a person of healthy weight, with a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and foods such as rice that have high levels of moisture. If you have less moisture from your food or are overweight, you will probably need more water. Drink more water during and after exercise. Aqualibria recommend using a good water filtering system.
How do you know if you are drinking enough water?
By the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated.
Your urine should be clear or lightly coloured. Darker coloured urine may be an indication that you are dehydrated.
If you are not drinking enough water, daily intake should be increased gradually.
Treatment of mild dehydration
The best treatment for mild dehydration is an electrolyte-balanced fluid, such as a sports drink. However, Aqualibria strongly believe that prevention is better than cure.
Dehydration and Constipation
Getting enough water is an incredibly important part of balancing your health. There are many health implications that can result from dehydration, including constipation.
When water is in short supply in the body, the colon will restrict unnecessary water loss through the stools. The colon muscles contract to squeeze out the water and reabsorb it back into circulation. This can result in harder stools which are difficult to pass, and which may irritate and weaken the walls of the colon, resulting in diverticula (pockets of tissue that push out from the colonic walls) and colon malfunctions, such as fistulas, polyps and tumors.
For our clients who suffer with constipation, bloating or IBS, Aqualibria recommends a course of colon hydrotherapy treatments to help gently cleanse and hydrate the digestive system, break up dehydrated waste materials on the intestinal walls and prevent the re-absorption of toxic materials.
If you find it hard to drink the required amount of water every day, try adding a small piece of root ginger to a glass of hot water. This will flavour the water and is also a great treatment for constipation.
Can I get dehydrated in Winter? This time of the year?!?
The winter holidays can offer many opportunities for parties and social events, for relaxation and catching up with family and friends. It can also be a time when the alcohol flows freely. So, what does this mean in context of dehydration and digestion? Alcohol is a diuretic, increasing fluid loss from the body, which can lead to dehydration. The liver is the main organ that gets rid of alcohol. As it metabolises the alcohol, it produces acetaldehyde, a toxic substance that affects the stomach lining, resulting in nausea, vomiting and heartburn. The toxins from alcohol can irritate the stomach, causing gastritis, which can delay digestion and cause vomiting. Alcohol also interferes with the small and large intestines’ ability to absorb water and salt, which may cause diarrhoea.
For our clients who wish to maintain their social schedule without compromising their wellbeing, Aqualibria recommends a course of colon hydrotherapy treatments to assist the body in eliminating toxins and to ensure that the digestive system remains healthy and hydrated.
Tips to beat dehydration during the Christmas holiday season
Did you know? It takes 8 ounces of water to make up for drinking 1.5 ounces of alcohol.
These are the steps that you can take to help avoid dehydration and digestive problems caused by alcohol:
· don’t drink on an empty stomach
· take a teaspoon or two of olive oil before drinking alcohol, to help protect the stomach membrane
· drink a glass of water between each glass of alcohol
· don’t drink to excess.
Dehydration in the Workplace
Did you know? A 4-5% reduction in water in your body can cause as much as a 30% decline in work performance.
Dehydration impairs both physical and mental performance. Lifestyle can affect health in many different ways, and the short-term gains of some lifestyle choices can have longer-term repercussions on wellbeing. Caffeine may help to keep you temporarily alert, but it is a mild diuretic and can contribute to dehydration. High protein diets may be convenient and good for sustaining energy levels, but a diet that is too high in protein can lead to dehydration. By keeping your body well hydrated, your performance will be consistently higher than if your body is constantly struggling to cope with the effects of dehydration.
For our clients who have demanding work lives, Aqualibria recommend a course of colon hydrotherapy treatments to assist the digestive system in staying hydrated and to help you perform at your peak.
Aqualibria Tip! Keep a bottle of water on your desk at all times. This way, you will be able to ensure that you are getting enough water throughout even the busiest of days.
Miss Velile Ndebele RGN (Registered General Nurse), Colon Hydrotherapist I-ACT Instructor has been working in Healthcare in both the NHS public sector as well as private sector since 1994, working for major public hospitals as well as respected private healthcare companies like BUPA.
She is Founder and Clinical Director of Aqualibria Colon Hydrotherapy MediSpa since its inception in 2005.