by Zina Kroner, DO
As a nutritionally-oriented internist, I have seen air travel take quite a toll on the health and well-being of many of my friends and patients. With the excitement of traveling to a new destination, the new food, the change in schedule, the stress, the hassle; it is easy to neglect one’s health. My patients are frequently asking me for health travel advice. While practicing in a city where both business and leisure travel are staples in the lives of many of my patients, I have developed a nutritional and lifestyle plan to help optimize health while traveling.
Drink 2 large glasses of water on an empty stomach in the morning of travel. This will hydrate you effectively. Have a high protein breakfast.
Stress plays a significant role in air travel. Aside from a healthy diet, restorative sleep, regular exercise, and the addition of key nutritional supplements to the regime are helpful. One mineral that helps to combat stress is magnesium. It is one of the first nutrients to be depleted in the setting of stress. Your adrenal glands depend on magnesium, as do over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body. I recommend my patients take 100mg of magnesium-taurate the morning of the flight, and then another 100mg just before the flight.
It is not uncommon for travelers to contract a respiratory infection, the flu, or other infection while flying. The poor air circulation in the cabin compounded by the proximity to other passengers who may potentially be sick poses a double threat. Those with weak sinuses are at a heightened risk, as well, due to the periodic changes in air pressure. Washing hands and using hand sanitizers in the plane may be of benefit. Hydration and optimal nutrition are integral components, as well. I recommend my patients take several key nutrients to help boost the immune system in the setting of travel. I recommend taking oleuropin before the flight, which is the active ingredient in the olive leaf that has potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. In addition, beta 1,3 glucans and the prickly pear are cutting edge nutrients that I recommend that have been studied for their anti-microbial effects. Vitamin C and a combination of immune boosting mushrooms, such as cordyceps, reishi, and maitake, may help to prevent colds and other respiratory ailments in flight.
Boosting the immune system by addressing the gut is essential. It is an established fact that over sixty percent of the immune system is in the gut, referred to as the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). In addition to a healthy diet, intake of a probiotic (beneficial gastrointestinal flora) is imperative to optimizing function. I strongly recommend taking a probiotic a week before the date of travel and to continue for a week thereafter.
Constipation is common in the setting of travel. The change in food, regime, stress level, and diet are contributors to this phenomenon. Probiotics can help deal with this. Magnesium plays a crucial role as well, being that it is a muscle relaxor that can relax the muscles of the colon wall and therefore improve regularity. Hydration, exercise and healthy fiber intake are important as well.
It is not uncommon to get a muscle cramp during the flight. Magnesium, a natural muscle relaxer, can help to prevent this. Be careful, because what feels like a cramp may actually be a blood clot. I highly recommend taking natural supplements that improve circulation before the flight. Natural vitamin E and omega-3 fish oil have been shown to optimize the cardiovascular system. Their mild blood thinning effect may help to prevent a clot. I also recommend the use of nattokinase for clot prevention. There is a lot of research supporting nattokinase’s role as an anti-clotting agent. It is an enzyme extracted from natto, which is derived from fermented soybeans.
To make it more user-friendly, I have put together all the supplements described above into prearranged packets. I have blended the highest quality nutrients into the “Flight Pack,” the only physician-grade supplement pack on the market used to optimize health and well-being while flying. I hope you find them helpful. Take one packet with a meal before your flight. Each Flight Pack contains 8 supplements. If it is okay with your physician, you can take this packet daily while traveling. Do not take if you are pregnant, are taking a blood thinner, have kidney or liver disease, or a bleeding disorder. Living smarter, living longer… (The product can be ordered online at www.advanced-medicine.com.)