Saturday, February 5, 2011

Electrolytes & Hydration, Part 2

Collation 2
Now let’s collate the other extreme from the sea – travelling in a desert. To get across a desert, travellers used to take in extra quantities of salt before the journey – but not just salt! They have to follow it up with large quantities of water. First salt, to trigger the body to want copious amounts of water, then satiate that thirst immediately after, without over-doing it. This causes your body to temporarily hold extra water, until your body is able to return both quantity and ratio back to the optimal levels. But if you suddenly increase both, then set out across a stifling hot, dry plain, you will probably sweat out much of that excess before your body can pee it out. Thus you have given yourself an extra hour or so of comfort before things start to deteriorate.

Any state of “extra”, with either salt or water, is temporary, but if you don’t have enough water, your body will still rob your dehydrated body of as much water as it can to return the salt ratio back to optimal levels, even if it means dropping the hydration level dangerously below optimal levels. But of course if you’re dehydrated as your body is robbing even more water, then your blood becomes even thicker and it becomes a hopeless vicious cycle that leads to stomach cramps and collapse.

Collation 3
Many of us have heard of the Master Cleanse. This is a strict diet that consists of drinking fresh-squeezed lemonade with grade “B” maple syrup and cayenne pepper mixed in. It’s not delicious, but it’s not as nasty as it sounds. Grade “B” maple syrup is loaded with vitamins, plus fresh lemonade is loaded with vitamin C. Vitamin C is acidic, and cayenne pepper is caustic. Still, the mixture is somewhat mildly acidic and caustic, and causes no discomfort to drink for days on end. The mixture gradually corrodes the “gunk” that can build up on the insides of your intestines. This gunk is what leads to cancers, ulcers, and many other conditions. It will also kill all the bacteria and viruses living in your gut.
So first you loosen up the gunk, then you try to flush it out. Here’s the chemistry lesson in this… You mix 2tsp of salt with 1qt of warm (body-temperature ~98.6F) water, then you guzzle it real fast. If the solution is the same saline ratio as your blood, and you’re not dehydrated, then it will flush through, sometimes violently. It is stressed very clearly to anyone starting the Master Cleanse to be close to a toilet when they do the salt-water flush. It will gush right through from mouth to toilet with surprising speed. This is what blasts the “gunk” off the walls of your intestines during the Cleanse.
No doubt, if you aren’t taking in any other source of salt, then all your daily salt will come from this salt-water Flush – not all the salt will flush out, but the water sure will.
The Master Cleanse achieves bowel-flush through a combination of body-temperature water, empty intestines from no solid food, and the osmosis of salt from the Flush into your slightly hyponatremic system. If you try the Flush when you’re not on the Master Cleanse diet, then there will be plenty of digesting food in the way, so there won’t be any violent results. It takes about two to three days to empty all your intestines. It’s only after the intestines are empty that the Flush truly starts to do its work. The less food and “gunk” in the way, the more violent the Flush will be. When you achieve MC nirvana, clear water runs all the way through you. Nearly all the maple syrup and lemonade absorbs into your blood-stream.
FYI: When finished with the Master Cleanse sessions, you have to rebuild the healthy microbes that are supposed to be in your gut by consuming probiotics for several days. You can’t just start eating regular food again.
I guarantee the MC will cure you of serious flatulence. Flatulence is caused by undigested food (carbs are the worse) getting into your lower intestine. This happens when you over-eat. When the wrong kind of bacteria start colonizing in your lower intestine, then it doesn’t much matter what you eat or how much, you have chronic flatulence. Taking antibiotics is a less-perfect way of killing the bad bacteria, but won’t give you the cleaning.
If you don’t follow the post-MC plan of rebuilding your good-bacteria, and you start dumping hardy foods into your system, then you won’t be able to properly digest. You’ll end up with undigested food in your lower intestine again, which defeats many of the reasons for doing the MC in the first place.

- If your hydration and salt levels are both low, and you guzzle a neutral mix (such as Pedialyte, for example), your body will retain it all – because it needs both.
- If you’re well-hydrated but your salt is low, and you guzzle a neutral mix, your body will retain salt and flush out the water – not necessarily through your bowels, but also through your bladder.
- If you’re dehydrated but your salt is fine…
See the trend? Your body isn’t stupid, even though it sometimes acts that way. It knows what’s best and will do its best to bring all levels back to optimal. This only fails when you don’t give the body the resources it needs to return things to optimal levels.

In a perfect world, all the fluids offered at an ultra event will be mixed at perfectly balanced ratios. It may not taste good, but it will allow your body to adjust to healthy levels, even considering that some people expend either water or salt at different levels. One optimal mixture for all is actually good. If you take in enough optimal mixture, your body will flush out what it doesn’t need, either through your bladder or your bowels. You don’t need to worry about how saline your pee is – your body will make the correct decisions there. It won’t accidentally excrete too much salt through your pee.
If you drink too much water, and you don’t have enough salt, then your body will not be able to drop the excess water very efficiently. This state of hyponatremia can kill you. No one ever developed hyponatremia from drinking an isotonic mix.

On the cellular level, if you add plain water (hypotonic), the cells being saltier, osmosis will cause the cells to fill with water until they burst, thus killing the cells. This is why you shouldn’t try to clean a wound with plain water.

If you subject cells to hypertronic solutions, the cells will get the water sucked out of them, and will shrivel up. Traumatic shrivelling will kill or damage many of them.
Luckily, our stomach and other systems do a fine job of buffering what we consume to introduce substances in a controlled way, so there usually aren’t any traumatic cellular responses. But just the thought of these cellular responses should clue everyone in to how limited their use of water should be during a grueling event, and how important it is to not go hog-wild with the electrolyte supplements.

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