An Rx for enlightenment: A pharmacist's love for educating
Steve Irsfeld, of Dickinson, is a pharmacist on a mission. Irsfeld is a well known figure in the community and his podcast, blog and columns for The Dickinson Press guide the community in formulating solutions for healthcare problems that aren't typically solved with conventional medicine.
From hormone testing to customized medication, Irsfeld Pharmacy is there to help Dickinson residents with their every need. The pharmacy carries multiple lines of supplements that many other pharmacies in the area don't have, but what's more is that the pharmacy has an owner and pharmacist-in-charge that dedicates his efforts to helping his community through educational columns in his local newspaper, The Dickinson Press , as well as a widely popular podcast.
Steve Irsfeld was born and raised in Dickinson, and began working at the family pharmacy as a high school student when it was founded in 1982 by his dad, Jim Irsfeld.
The younger Irsfeld followed in his father's footsteps and graduated from North Dakota State University's School of Pharmacy in 1988, and like his father would also be appointed to serve on the North Dakota State Board of Pharmacy.
His commitment to helping not only his patients, but the community at-large, inspired him to launch a series of instructional columns guiding readers to formulate solutions for healthcare problems that aren't typically solved with conventional medicine.
"The way we care about our patients makes our pharmacy different. We have the ability to solve the most difficult medicine problems, differentiating us from other pharmacies. We match medications to patients, rather than matching patients to medications...including both human and animal patients," Irsfeld said. "Through patient education and advice, we hope to become your 'Problem Solver.'"
In his latest column, Irsfeld tackled hydration's impact on a healthy system.
"Summer is by far my favorite season of the year. Being active outdoors and sweating go hand in hand. Temperatures are spiking in the 90’s this week, and the early part of summer is heating up," he said. "Many people don’t like it too hot to the point of sweating, but sweating is a great way to pull toxins out of your body and the increased heat of the season expedites that process. Losing water from your body during activities or in the heat naturally occurs, and rehydration of the body is a must."
So what is the best option to staying hydrated?
"From previous articles I have written, diet drinks are not the answer as they are a risk factor for dementia, wreck your microbiome, and cause weight gain. The answer is not surprising, water or H2O if you want to be scientific about it," he said. "When speaking to patients about increasing their water intake, one of the responses I hear most is, 'I don’t like water.' That is kind of funny because our bodies are composed of up to 60% water, so you may not like it, but your body is hungry for it."
According to a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the brain and heart are 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.
"Most of our population is severely dehydrated, and that can affect our wellness or lack thereof. Checking your hydration status can be as easy as checking the color of your urine or having a more sophisticated test such as a bio-impedance analysis (BIA)," Irsfeld said. "The darker your urine, the more likely you are dehydrated. You should have clear urine or slightly yellow. The exception is after taking vitamins, causing your urine to be almost a fluorescent yellow color, which is perfectly normal. You are not radioactive. Your lips are yet another indicator. If they’re dry, you may be dehydrated."
The BIA test, which Irsfeld pharmacy in Dickinson provides, sends a low current of electricity from diodes placed on a patient's wrist, finger, ankle and a toe. The electrical current measures resistance and reactance and can provide information such as the percentage of body fat, muscle, water, phase angle and intra/extracellular fluids.
"Fat, muscle, and water are self-explanatory; phase angle is like a grade for the health of your cells and indicates overall health," he said.
Cellular fluid is a fundamental concept many are unfamiliar with.
"You want to have more intracellular water than extracellular. Think of your cell as being like a grape. If it is hydrated and healthy, it will be plump, if you are dehydrated, your cells will reflect that, and they will be more like a raisin," Irsfeld said. "Another example of this is your skin. If you are hydrated your skin will reflect that, and wrinkles will be more prevalent with someone that is dehydrated. A good thing about this concept is that it can be measured.
According to Irsfeld, people can influence their health by making changes as easy as drinking filtered water and consuming electrolytes and micronutrients in a balanced diet and with supplements.
"Back to the 'I don’t like water' comment, adding lemon or lime to your water can influence the flavor, as can a host of healthy additives that provide nutrients as well," he said. "You will be surprised when you make changes to what you drink, how you don’t miss the bad stuff, and start to crave water."
In Irsfeld's view, the best water to drink is natural spring water.
"Springwater is loaded with healthy minerals that your body needs to function optimally. You can find a local spring by looking them up at the following website www.findaspring.com. Unfortunately, our closest spring is about halfway between Bismarck and Jamestown, so filtered or bottled water may be better options for you," Irsfeld said. "I have a whole house water filter that filters everything that comes into the house, so we drink it and bathe and shower in it. Any time you can decrease your exposure to chemicals and toxins, it is a good idea."
One of the most common questions regarding hydration is, "how much water do I need to drink?”
"That is a great question but first things first, you must drink when you are thirsty. Thirst is a natural urge that should be heeded. It means your body needs water. A simple rule of thumb for daily consumption is ½ your body weight in ounces per day," he said. "A 200lb person would need to drink 100oz per day. That seems like a lot but think about how happy your plump cells will feel and all the toxins you will be eliminated via your kidneys."
While the heat may have people running for near freezing cold water to cool down, Irsfeld said that it wasn't necessarily the best option.
"It is best to sip on room temperature water throughout the day and not guzzle large amounts a couple of times a day. This will allow your body the chance to absorb and utilize it and not have it simply run through your system," he said. "Lastly, it is important to add a drink or powdered product with a balanced profile of critical minerals, electrolytes, vitamins, taurine, and carnosine for hydration. These ingredients work in synergy to support optimal hydration and promote healthy electrolyte balance, which is crucial for sustaining athletic performance, muscle contraction, and cell function."