A Business Traveller's Quick Guide to Hydration
If there is a single convincing argument to get business travellers to consume more water when flying it exists in this equation
E=H2O, Energy equals Water
This isn’t a random made-up equation but the findings of Dr Gerald Pollack a biomedical research scientist at the University of Washington. Dr Pollack coined the phrase Exclusion Zone (EZ) water, otherwise described as the 4th phase of water. The genius of his discovery is that EZ water has the potential to produce energy when exposed to light, furthermore EZ water is in your cells so staying hydrated can be a route to more energy.
We know business travel is energy-sapping at the best of times. The aircraft cabin plays a role in making the journey harder on our bodies because of its dehydrating nature. Therefore knowing how to hydrate properly for business travel, performance and general health would be a useful tool to have.
In case you are minded to dismiss hydration as a nice to have, let’s not forget this year‘s World Cup Qatar 2022 is being held in the off-season due to the heat of Qatar being recognised as debilitating to good performance.
You may have heard guidance that eight glasses of 8 ounces of water (2 quarts) is the recommended daily dose to stay hydrated, but this may or may not be adequate for you, especially if you are a frequent business traveller. It is not an exact science but recommended fluid intake for long haul flights is between 100 and 300 mL/h (including from food). This is based on estimated fluid losses and from research findings*.
The rule of thumb I recommend is the colour of your pee test! Apple juice yellow urine is bad, (you are already dehydrated), lemonade yellow is good. Try maintaining that for the duration of your flight. The exception to this is the first urine of the day in the morning, or if you are on medications that change the colour of urine.
You have to experiment and find what works for you. In the meantime, you would do well to avoid the following mistakes
● Don’t drink high acid high sugar concentrated juices, their residue in the body is more acidic which leads to more dehydration
● Don’t drink or at least minimise the number of caffeinated drinks you consume particularly when flying, this will help you avoid the diuretic effects of caffeine.
● If you are flying to perform or be at your best in business dealings save drinking alcoholic beverages until you are on the ground. ● Avoid electrolyte supplements with sugar or sugar derivatives as a base as they add to your body’s acidity. Something you can do to help your hydration status is to choose supplements that are isotonic in nature, this just means the fluid makeup is similar to the fluids of your body. You can also
● Drink water before, during and after exercise and energetic expenditure, all energy-intensive activities benefit from hydration.
● If you find it hard to remember to drink water, schedule it with a repeating reminder alarm. ● Drink naturally structured water, the easiest way to do this is to juice non-sweet fruits and vegetables. Healthy business travel requires a lifestyle adjustment to stay healthy and optimal. The most successful travellers have a secret weapon, impeccable preparation. Not leaving preparation to chance is the master stroke. So good accessories to help you meet your hydration goals are a must. That means bringing along your own reusable quality water bottle, hydration supplements and foods.
You may have heard the advice not to drink potable water on aircraft. The water tanks aren’t the cleanest. You can get by with bottled water on offer but what about when you get off the plane? Water quality around the world is not even and the quality of the water you ingest matters.
Measures for water quality include total dissolved solids (tds), dissolved oxygen content, particulate content, pH (its acidity) and others. With bacterial and other water borne viruses are a challenge for nearly 25% of the global population according to research* it makes sense to secure a healthy supply of quality water wherever you travel to and avoid illnesses and dehydration.
Dehydration is not just physically debilitating, here are some symptoms you might want to be on the lookout for as signs of creeping dehydration status -
Headaches, dry mouth & throat, decreased output of urine, dry skin, lightheadedness, dizziness, sleepiness, exhaustion, disorientation, lack of focus,
fever, hyperventilation, diarrhoea, vomiting, and loss of consciousness
Let’s keep drinking good quality water, remember your blood is 92% water, your brain is 75% water, your muscles are 75% water, and your bones are 22% water. The average human body is 75% water, it appears this percentage decreases with age so this is one habit to cultivate over our lifetime.
* Zubac D, Buoite Stella A, Morrison SA. Up in the Air: Evidence of Dehydration Risk and Long-Haul Flight on Athletic Performance. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 25;12(9):2574. doi: 10.3390/nu12092574. PMID: 32854320; PMCID: PMC7551461.
* Gall AM, Mariñas BJ, Lu Y, Shisler JL (2015) Waterborne Viruses: A Barrier to Safe Drinking Water. PLoS Pathog 11(6): e1004867. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004867