Travel Healthy this Summer!
Last summer I got poop updates from Italy. It was a proud nutritionist moment. I had been was working on constipation and general gut health with a client all year and she was now enjoying a well deserved vacation. Travelling can wreak havoc on your system, but vacation is a healthy part of life. Don't cancel the vacation, just keep in mind the following points:
1. Your internal organs get out of balance. This is especially true when flying as rapid changes in altitude throw off the internal pressure of the body. This includes digestion and intestinal function. Exposure to light at night can throw off both your circadian rhythms and your internal electrical systems.
2. Dehydration can occur. Both driving a long distance in a car and flying can cause the body to become dehydrated. We tend to drink less to avoid having to use the restroom frequently. When flying, the air is dryer at higher levels of altitude. Being in a car with closed windows and with a heater or air conditioner on also makes the air dryer.
3. Circulation is compromised in both the bloodstream and the lymphatic system. Both driving and flying have you sitting for long periods of time. This also causes inflammation to go up – is it surprising that you’re stiff and sore when you arrive at your destination? You are exposed to more pathogens from being in close quarters with other people. This is the case when you are in a car and stopping at rest stations. It’s worse in a plane as people are all crammed together. Different areas have different pathogens that your system may not be used to.
4. Cravings go up. Since you are deprived of your usual health foods, you have less nutrients to support your body. Less nutrients and the dehydration can cause cravings for food and may lead to overeating.
HERE ARE 7 TIPS TO KEEP YOU HEALTHY WHILE VISITING YOUR FAVOURITE AUNT THIS SUMMER!!
1. Stay Hydrated – Adding electrolytes to your water and drinking 50% more water than you usually consume will help immensely. If you don’t have an electrolyte supplement you can add to water, just use some Himalayan salt or other good quality sea salt – 1/8 tsp per 1/2 litre or 1/2 quart of water. Or drink coconut water.
2. Avoid Excessive Eating While in Transit. When flying, try to avoid eating for at least two hours before flying and during the flight. The disruption to your digestive system because of the change in pressure and altitude can cause gas and bloating and leave you feeling sluggish. If you need to eat on a flight, then consume something light. Buy raw food bars or take digestive enzymes and probiotics with whatever you eat to aid digestion. Carry healthy snacks with you.
If driving, healthy eating is so much easier. If you can avoid it, make sure you don’t eat in the car. Go to a rest stop and eat in a relaxed comfortable environment. When you drive, you have total control over what you eat so take advantage of it. Fresh fruits and vegetables are ideal as they will also help with hydration and are easy to digest. Stop along the way, so many amazing farmer's stands this time of year!!!
3. Boost Your Nutrient Intake. This is where supplements can come in handy, especially when flying. Free radical damage is high due to the extra radiation exposure when flying and the car exhaust when driving. Free radical damage is a molecule with an unpaired electron, they can be associated with disease. Antioxidants, are molecules that can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction. The principal antioxidants are vitamin E, C and selenium and beta-carotene. Take a good high-quality antioxidant formula of vitamins. Also, a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral formula will provide all the essential nutrients you need.
The good news is that there are many whole food supplements that are essentially just whole foods – often organic, dried and available as a loose powder or in a capsule. The powder can be added to water and consumed as needed, or just take the supplements if this is more convenient. Ask at your local health food store for the best brands.
4. Eat for Balance. When eating food, consume good quality protein and fats with whole grain carbohydrates to help keep you satisfied longer and sustain your energy. This will help limit cravings and prevent overeating. When you arrive at your destination, go food shopping. Most hotels have small refrigerators in the room.
Buy foods such as fruits, vegetables, hummus, and fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut (add it to the hummus). This will provide lots of enzymes to aid digestion and help intestinal function. Try to consume as many of the foods as possible that you consume at home.
5. Improve Circulation and Lymphatic Flow. Sitting while driving or flying causes blood to pool and the lymphatic system to stagnate. Try to get an aisle seat in an airplane so you can get up frequently and walk up and down the aisle. You can also stretch your legs, arms and torso while sitting in your seat. When driving, take frequent breaks and get out of the car to stretch and walk around for a few minutes. Once you arrive at your destination go for a walk (at least 20 minutes). This will help improve circulation and will help you relax later when you wish to go to sleep.
6. Avoid Overstimulating Blue Light. This can throw off your circadian rhythms if you are exposed to it from cell phones and notepads while flying at night or using your computer before bedtime. There are special blue light blocking glasses that can be purchased to cancel the exposure. Blue light disrupts melatonin production and lowers serotonin. Both can affect mood and are a factor in jet lag. Sleep is important while travelling, and it takes a bit of adjustment if there is a significant time change. When taking a red eye flight, bring a neck pillow for more comfort and an eye mask to block out light. Ear plugs can be helpful too. These may also help with the strange noises that are always present in hotel rooms.
7. Take Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics. Digestive Enzymes and probiotics can be taken more frequently, even between meals. Enzymes, especially proteolytic enzymes, aid digestion, which can often be out of whack while travelling. When taken between meals, these may help reduce inflammation, which often increases from poor circulation and stagnant lymph. Probiotics also aid digestion, support the immune system, fight pathogens, and reduce inflammation.
Vacations are healthy, taking time to explore somewhere new, or just chill in a familiar spot is so good for you. These are somethings to keep in mind and some suggestions to provide support for the systems of your body.
Whatever you do, enjoy, be healthy!