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Photo: Unsplash/Sarah Dorweiler

People have all kinds of hacks for staying hydrated on airplanes. But could the key to fending off a case of dry mouth in cabin be drinking “wild” water?

Unlike raw water—the trend of consuming untreated H2O, which some biohackers in Silicon Valley are very into at the moment—wild water is filtered or tap water that’s been boosted with a mix of minerals (think: those elements you memorized on the periodic table like zinc and copper) you’d find in natural spring water. And there’s some science to suggest that reintroducing these positively and negatively charged ions into your diet has health benefits.

Among the minerals particularly of interest is silica—you might recognize the name from those little moisture-absorbing gel packets found in your supplement bottles. According to naturopathic doctor Kristie Wrightson, ND, MS, RD silica occurs abundantly in nature—it’s in all sand and rocks, for example, which means it’s also in water (but usually only until that water is filtered).

Silica makes the tissues in our bodies more absorbent of water.

Silica, she says, is also found in our bodies—though its quantity depletes as we age. It’s notably required for the building of collagen. Plus, it can help improve heart health and your body’s ability to detox, according to Edison de Mello, a board-certified integrative physician and founder of the Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine. (Some studies have demonstrated its protective benefits with respect to Alzheimer’s disease, too.)

Most importantly, for anyone looking to stay hydrated on a long-haul flight without quite so many trips to the bathroom, he says silica makes the tissues in our bodies more absorbent of water, which they need to regulate body temperature and other bodily functions. It can also help carry water in the body, says Wrightson. But that does not mean you should start adding a silica supplement to your travel skin-care routine

Both health pros caution that excess silica in the body can actually cause dehydration. So, neither recommends direct supplementation; nor does Christina Vittas, MS, a health coach at Parsley Health. “Our bodies only really need small amounts,” she explains. “I’d be much more likely to recommend that someone eat cucumbers.” (De Mello also mentions asparagus and green beans.)

Person slicing cucumbers
Photo: Unsplash/Igor Miske

Adding a couple slices of the watery fruit to your glass is one option. Though, Wrightson recommends drinking naturally-mineralized water. “[You] can get most of the minerals, and all of the silica, needed for the day in about three cups of Rising Springs water, for example,” she says. 

But if you’re on the road, it might be easier to go the “re-wild” route á la Amanda Kloots. Which the buzzy fitness instructor revealed she does by adding a few drops of Sakara Life Beauty Water to her bottle when she flies. “[It] contains silica, rose, and 72 trace minerals to make your water ‘wetter’ [by hydrating] your body at the cellular level instead of drinking stripped down water,” says Sakara co-founder Whitney Tingle. “[It’s] a way to remineralize your H2O.”

However you choose to supercharge your supply, the one thing all the pros seem to agree on is that one of the best things you can do while traveling (and in general) is become BFFs with your water bottle. Whatever you choose to fill it with is up to you.

Need more travel tips from wellness pros? Find out which product Kayla Itsines swears by on flights. Plus, Candice Kumai has a few killer packing recs, too.

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Well+Good Retreats

I went to adult summer camp—here’s what it was like