Water isn’t the only way to hydrate. On an airplane where you’re sitting for a long period, drinking a lot of water will store liquid in your lower body and could lead to ankle swelling. Still, staying hydrated is recommended to counteract the plane’s dry air. Dr. Christopher Calapai, an anti-aging and stem cell expert and long time health advisor to the New York Rangers hockey team, advises hydrating with food instead of water when you fly. Cut-up fruit and veggies packed in baggies are perfectly acceptable when you’re going through an airport’s security line, and taking hydrating food onboard will help you turn down the peanuts and trail mix offered in flight. Calapai identifies five foods that work well for this purpose:
- Watermelon. “Watermelon is one of the most hydrating foods and a great alternative to snacks that have large amounts of sodium and make you more dehydrated,” Calapai says.
- Cucumbers. About 96% percent water, cucumbers “contain no saturated fat or cholesterol and are high in Vitamin B6, which helps in the production of serotonin—the brain chemical that controls mood,” Calapai reports. Slice them or cube them to make small bites.
- Strawberries. Calapai notes, “Strawberries have the highest water content of any berry—92%. You can enjoy the tart-sweet flavor without consuming too much sugar.” Fruits in general are good choices, since most are more than 80% water.
- Full salad. If you want a meal rather than a snack, pack a salad of greens, tomatoes, chicken and goat cheese. Lettuce is 96% percent water, and tomatoes are 94% water. You can add zucchini, radishes and celery, which are 95%, while carrots, peppers and red cabbage also are high in water content. Go easy on the salt when seasoning your chicken, and grill or steam it to retain moisture. All the ingredients stay yummy at room temperature.
- Coconut Water. If you can’t get by without liquid, wait until you’re through security. Then from an airport mini-mart, grab coconut water, which Calapai says “is low in calories and high in naturally occurring, hydration-replenishing electrolytes, which plain water does not contain. It’s a better option than sports drinks that have artificial flavors and more calories.”