This post was contributed by our Health and Wellness Travel Expert, Michael Henri.
The concept seems so simple yet it is not really understood. The human body requires a minimum amount of water to properly and efficiently function. However, it can continue to operate if it doesn’t. This is the problem.
We are not all fully aware the effects of dehydration. We don’t realize the importance of drinking the daily minimum recommended amount of water.
HOW BAD IS DEHYDRATION?
A lot of travel destinations involve basking in the rays of sunshine. With all that glory comes some risk. If you’ve experienced sunstroke while spending too much time in the sun, you’ll know what extreme dehydration is like.
Dehydration is not so obvious sometimes. You can have negative effects from mild dehydration without even knowing.
Our bodies are made up of mostly water:
- Brain and heart are composed of 73% water,
- Lungs are about 83% water.
- Skin contains 64% water,
- Muscles and kidneys are 79% water; and
- The bones 31% water.
(H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158)
So it is no surprise we need to drink more water to survive. I am not reinventing the wheel here. Dehydration results in stress, headaches, back pain, allergies, asthma, high blood pressure and many degenerative health problems.
Sadly, very few people drink the recommended daily amount of water in their day to day lives. When we travel, we are typically more active and outdoors more than back home. For that reason, it is even more important to drink more water to keep your body healthy and happy!
Water has no calories. It lubricates your body. It is needed for chemical reactions in the body. It prevents you from drying out. It is meant to keep you alive.
The body is able to survive off of less than the recommended daily amount of 2-3 litres per day because the human body is amazing. It is resilient. However, prolonged dehydration can cause extreme negative effects on our health.
AM I DEHYDRATED?
Arriving in a new city can be so exciting! I know that when I arrive in a new location, I’m anxious to get out and explore everything around me!
With that excitement comes forgetfulness. Perhaps, not thinking proactively about bringing a water bottle. Yet with all the excitement and distraction, your body suffers because your body will not get enough water resulting in dehydration.
Fortunately, our body has a sign to tell us when we are not hydrated. Your urine! What color is it? Is it yellow? If so, then it is highly likely you are dehydrated!
Your urine should be near clear. If it is light yellow, you are on the verge of dehydration. If it is bright gold, you are severely dehydrated.
Signs of dehydration include:
- Darker colored urine;
- Feeling of thirst;
- Chapped lips;
- Dry skin;
- Feeling of hunger;
- Fatigue or tiredness;
- Loss of focus; and
BENEFITS OF DRINKING MORE WATER
While it is important to know all the downsides of dehydration, let’s flip the page and focus on the benefits of keeping your body regularly hydrated.
Sometimes when you’re hungry… you are really just thirsty. Part of the reason why we crave food is that our body is telling us that it’s thirsty. Drink a glass of water when you are craving food outside of eating times and see if you are still hungry after.
When you’re dehydrated, you’re blocking the production of the hormone – melatonin -which is responsible for your body’s sleeping and waking cycle. Therefore, it is harder to fall asleep and wake up when you are dehydrated. It is extremely difficult to enter REM sleep which is the deep quality sleep your body needs to properly rest.
MORE ENERGY – LESS FATIGUE
The main source of daytime fatigue is dehydration. Staying hydrated throughout the day will improve your energy levels, help you think more clearly, focus, and be more alert.
HEALTHY WEIGHT LOSS
Drinking more water regularly removes the by-products of fat and reduces your hunger, as mentioned above and it increases your metabolism, which is a chemical process where we break down molecules to produce energy.
Through sweat and urination, your body will flush out all the chemicals which improve your health and reduces your risk of certain illnesses.
IMPROVES SKIN COMPLEXION
Drinking more water keeps your skin moisturized, looking fresh, soft, smooth and glowing. Regular hydration can also minimize wrinkles from aging.
BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM
Regular hydration reduces your risk of getting short or long-term illnesses by keeping your immune system in check.
When your mind and body is functioning at its best, you will feel better and will be happier, therefore elevating your mood!
NATURAL REMEDY FOR HEADACHES
Although there are many reasons for experiencing headaches, they are also a common cause of dehydration. Drinking more water helps relieve and prevent headaches, migraines, and even back pain.
HOW TO STAY HYDRATED
The body is like a sponge. If you pour water on a sponge, the water will spill over the sides and not fully absorb. However, if you pour the water over a little at a time, allowing for the sponge to absorb and distribute the water, the sponge will be able to absorb more water.
The idea is to drink more water in small amounts, frequently, throughout the day.
The idea of staying hydrated is to prevent dehydration. Be proactive with drinking more water. Do not wait for your body to give you a sign of your dehydration. Prevent it before it happens.
The daily recommended water intake for the average adult is 2-3 litres depending on your size, gender, activity level etc. So let’s drink more water – MINIMUM 2-3 litres each day!
HOW TO DRINK MORE WATER WHILE TRAVELING
If you have travel plans, spend some time thinking about how you can drink more water when you’re on the go. Whether you are traveling to a hot climate or going skiing in the mountains, your body will definitely become dehydrated along the way.
A NOTE ON PLASTIC BOTTLED WATER:
According to The Guardian, nearly 20,000 plastic water bottles are bought every second. The bottles are manufactured and only a small portion are recycled. Most end up in landfills or the ocean. It is creating an environmental crisis that is predicted to be as serious as climate change.
Put in a solid effort to avoid purchasing plastic water bottles at all costs. The convenience is not worth the long-term effects on our planet and future health.
BUY A GOOD WATER BOTTLE
Investing in a quality water bottle is worth its weight in gold. As there are so many different kinds of water bottles out there, each individual has preferences on particular features that are most important.
Top choices for travel water bottles
Hydroflask Water Bottles – Double insulated bottles keeps your drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours. Highly durable bottle. Comes in a wide range of sizes and colors.
LifeStraw Go Bottle – Equipped with a straw that filters all the sediment and bacteria from the water, this bottle can be used to drink more water almost anywhere.
FILL UP BEFORE
Most first world countries have treated water that can be drunk straight from the tap. Before heading out for the day, make sure you are topped up.
Secondly, think proactively on where you will be going and determine whether you will have the opportunity to fill up again. If you think it may be challenging, make it a priority to find a place to fill up midday.
USE REFILL STATIONS
There are often refill stations in hotels, hostels and in many restaurants. All you have to do is ask. However, if you prefer not to ask, there are several apps that will tell you about specific water refill locations:
Choose Tap – (Australia) – “Water refill stations – Permanent drinking fountains installed in parks, open spaces, universities, hospitals and walking/running/cycling paths.”
Refill App – (United Kingdom) – “We know water fountains can be expensive to install and maintain, so now friendly cafes, shops, hotels, and businesses are welcoming you in to refill your water bottle – for free!”
Refill Bali / Refill My Bottle – (Bai, Indonesia) – “It was an initiative to make Bali a refillable island – in which filling up your water bottle from one of the refill stations is an everyday thing.”
Quench – (Toronto, Canada) – “Instantly connects you to the nearest water bottle Refill Location or water fountain in the Greater Toronto Area.”
ReeFill – (NYC, USA) – “Stations are located in local businesses around NYC like coffee shops.”
Tapit – (Washington D.C., USA) – “Find free, clean, sustainable tap water wherever you go!”
Water for Free – (Hong Kong, China) – “We believe that we all share one Earth and everyone needs to love it.”
Drink Tap – (World Wide) – “We realized that water is everywhere and we just needed to connect people to it in an environmentally friendly way, oh and for free.”
You can see there is an emerging popularity of refill stations. If you are not sure whether there is an app for where you are traveling, do a quick search and see how you can get involved.
No Refill Stations? No problem!
When no refill stations are available and your bottle is empty, I still do not recommend buying bottled water! Despite its convenience, it causes too much negative impact on our planet.
The Lifestraw can be used ANYWHERE! Even in extremely dirty water conditions, it will filter out all the remnants and bacteria to provide safe drinking water for you. If you’re visiting a country with poor water purification, considering getting yourself a LifeStraw.
When it comes to drinking more water, we all know we need to do more of it. If we could all try and make a conscious and mindful effort to be proactive when we travel and consider some of the options above, we will better improve the status of our bodies AND help keep our planet clean.