When you’re travelling abroad, you don’t want to suddenly shock your body with too many foreign substances. You’re already suffering a jolt to your circadian rhythms and sleep patterns from all that air travel, and the sheer stress of traveling combined with disrupted sleep is enough to weaken the immune system. This seems to leave people vulnerable to infections of the gut and drinking foreign water—especially in developing countries, is one of the surest ways to land yourself in the hospital. You can even get a deadly case of sepsis if you have an infection you let go too long, so get to a doctor right away if you have a fever, chills, diarrhea, and vomiting and you’ve been drinking water abroad.
There are some easy ways to stay hydrated abroad and tips to protect you from getting sick or infected by dangerous water sources.
Limit Water Intake—and Ice—and Cooking With Tap Water, When Traveling
When you are travelling abroad, the simplest trick is to limit water intake and to boil all water that you do drink.
See, even bottled water can be dangerous to drink when abroad because in many countries, store owners simply refill plastic bottles with their own tap water. In countries like China, Taiwan, Mexico, India, African countries—any still developing nations and countries, you need to be careful with bottled water. Check those caps and make sure that your water is tightly sealed before you drink it.
That’s one thing to keep in mind. The other thing is to avoid mixed drinks with ice—all drinks with ice, drinking beverages made from foreign tap water, and avoiding foods that may have been steamed or poached in toxic water. So, yes, this gets a little tricky. Some individuals stick solely to packaged foods when travelling.
Also, be careful not to swallow when brushing your teeth or showering in foreign countries. All water can cause traveler’s diarrhea, which can ruin all your fun for days.
How to Know a Good Water Source from a Bad One
With diseases ranging from typhoid, cholera, to Hepatitis A being caused by drinking dangerous tap water, you need to know how to tell a good water source from a bad one. Most countries in Asia, save some cities in Japan have unsafe water. Most all of the Europe has safe water but the attached countries like the Middle East and Russia do not. The United States and Canada have safe water but Mexico often does not, and even if the locals have adapted to it, most travelers get very sick drinking their water. In Africa and South America, there is no safe drinking water. In Australia, tap water is safe—New Zealand, no!
Great Ways to Ensure You Drink Safe Water Abroad
There are two great ways to ensure you’re drinking safe water abroad—one, test all water before you drink it. Today, you can purchase great tap water testing kits that make this easy. These kits test not only for bacteria and pesticides but also dangerous chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals that you don’t want to put into your system like chlorine, nitrates, copper, mercury, arsenic, and others.
Another great idea is to carry a water bottle with a built in filtration system. Portable water bottles with filters allow you to have water on hand within reach that has been decontaminated of all bacteria. Both LifeStraw and Clear Flow are companies which specialize in portable water bottles with built in filters that remove 99.9% of all bacteria from water—including dangerous bacteria like E.Coli, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium oocysts—some of the most disease-causing pathogens on the planet.
These bottles are highly affordable, with prices ranging from $21 to around $60.00, and what’s great is the bottles will last you forever because you simply replace the filter when the bottle lets you know it’s time (and it will, after around 1,500 liters of water).
The bottles are BPA free, meaning you’re free from worry about hormone disrupting chemicals as well. Whey protein isolate powder and protein powder help you to keep your immune system powered to stay resilient while travelling. You don’t want to sacrifice hydration – or cause nutrient deficiencies, just because you’re being careful about water. In fact, when travelling, you want to make sure to eat plenty of lean protein at every meal. Why? Because protein is one of the most essential compounds to fortify your immune system. Protein helps protect your body from bacteria, viruses, and pathogens. In fact, all the fighter cells in your immune systems are made of proteins, from cytokines to phagocytes and leukocytes.
Staying hydrated with safe water sources as well as keeping your body powered with nutrition and proteins to fortify immunity are essentials while dealing with the stress of traveling. Water bottles with built in filters, water testing kits, and protein powders and green drinks (to mix with your freshly filtered water, of course) can help you keep your system resilient to the slings and arrows of any new, harsh, and challenging environment.
Enjoy every bit of travels.
Have a Healthy & Happy Journey 🙂
Gerry Morton is the CEO of EnergyFirst, holds an MS in Nutrition and is an experienced athlete who has competed in 30+ marathons and 4 Ironman triathlons. Gerry is an excellent source of information on nutrition, supplementation and exercise. http://www.energyfirst.com is known for offering the world’s best tasting, highest quality, all natural, premium nutrition products such as pure whey protein powder, healthy travel packs, green drinks, superfood green energy bars, health supplements, pre-workout energizer etc. Read his blog at http://blog.energyfirst.com. Twitter: @EnergyFirst