Travel Tips and Tricks from a Wellness Pro

Stay Healthy While Flying

Many people find themselves starting or ending trips with a cold due to the exposure to germs and poor air, water, and food quality available in airports and on planes. I have some travel tips on how to stay healthy while flying.

Fasting on flights

This is one of my favorite travel tips and not commonly discussed. Our digestive systems struggle when we eat on flights. The climate is very dry, our autonomic nervous system is heightened, and our circadian rhythms get thrown off by the change in time zones. All of this makes for poor digestion. It’s incredibly common for people to become constipated after flying.

airplane flying in the cloudsInstead of eating food that likely won’t be fully digested, I recommend fasting on flights. Eat a hearty healthy meal before your flight, and by all means, do the same when you land. But skip snacking in-air. Definitely, skip the snacks provided on any flight as this is some of the lowest quality food you could eat.

You’ll land feeling less bloated, puffy, heavy, sluggish, and fuzzy. The energy that would be spent digesting food can go towards supporting healthy blood and lymph flow which will leave you not only feeling better but looking fresher as well.

Rather than eating…

Hydrate on flights

You know that flying is dehydrating. Unfortunately, the water in airports and on flights is of terrible quality. At the least, pack a stainless steel water bottle so that you can skip the plastic water bottles. I recommend that you pack a bottle like the Berkey travel filter bottle. You can fill this up with water fountain water or water on the plane, and it will filter out the majority of contaminants.

Hydration also helps counteract jet lag and risk of deep vein thrombosis. Hydrated blood is more viscous and flows better. Aim to drink at least 8oz of water for every 2 hours you’re in the air. If you’re prone to low blood pressure, adding some sea salt to your water can help.

Hand washing while flying

Obviously, it’s helpful to wash your hands to avoid getting sick while traveling. The tray tables, bathroom handles, armrests, etc are all swimming in germs from all over the country if not the world. You get exposed to strains of bacteria and viruses that may be foreign to your immune system.

However, many people opt for hand sanitizer or airport/airplane bathroom soaps which contain triclosan and antibacterial ingredients which are toxic and promote antibiotic resistance.

Instead, pack your own hand sanitizer or hand soap by a brand like EO. These smell good (I love the lavender smell for relaxation), contain a high enough percentage of alcohol to be effective against bacteria and viruses and don’t contain any harmful ingredients.

interior of airplane, healthy flyingAir quality while flying

Air quality on flights is inconsistent. Some flights experience very high levels of back-flow from jet fuel exhaust. In fact, there are class action lawsuits from pilots and flight attendants against the FFA due to inadequate protections. Jet fuel exhaust is not filtered out of the cabin and often creates toxic levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that cumulatively contribute to cancer. Acutely, poor air quality aggravates jet lag, causes headaches, fatigue, brain fog, and dizziness.

One option for both filtering germs and VOCs from jet fuel exhaust is to wear a facemask with a charcoal particulate filter. This may be one of my weirdest travel tips, but I wear one on every flight. You can find a link to it here.

Immune boosters while flying

I always bring immune boosters with me on the flight and load up before flying and while on a trip. The immune boosters I find most effective are Vitamin D3, a trace minerals complex (with zinc and selenium), and liposomal glutathione. These three not only help support immune function but offers protection against the oxidative stress that our bodies experience from the poor air, water, and food quality.

I also recommend choosing meals which are easy to digest and high in antioxidants for pre and post travel. This might mean a giant salad with protein, veggie soup with a good fat like avocado or coconut, or steamed veggies and protein.

Movement while flying

It’s important to be mindful of proper circulation while flying as we are more prone to blood stagnation while in the air. Get up and move once per hour, if you can. If you’re staying hydrated you will likely need to pee, which is a good excuse for stretching your legs and getting your blood recirculating from your feet back to your heart. If you can’t get up, shake and move your legs a bit every hour to help keep blood moving.

Bonus: Opt out of the security scanner

We get plenty of unavoidable radiation just from flying in an airplane. Avoid radiation where you can by giving yourself an extra 10 minutes to get through security and requesting an opt-out of the security scanner. You just let a TSA agent know when you get up to the scanner that you’d like to opt out. They know exactly what this means and will find a same-sex TSA agent to do a manual pat down.

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2018-11-01T13:02:32+00:00

About the Author:

Caitlin Gordon, M.S., L.Ac., C.M.F.P., is a functional medicine clinician, board-certified acupuncturist, and transformative health coach based in Boulder, Colorado. Owner of Amaluna Acupuncture & Wellness, Caitlin treats patients online and in-person. She specializes in treating stress, anxiety, and depression without pharmaceuticals.

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