Long queues, delays, weather issues …STRESS!
Uncertainty, lack of sleep, time changes, disruption of circadian rhythms …STRESS!
Fast food, processed food, airport food, different food …STRESS!
Cabin pressure, bacteria, pesticides, mould …STRESS!
Business dinners, airport bars, delays …STRESS!
Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, being in an airport, airplane, or hotel can increase stress on your physical, mental and, yes, even spiritual body (it’s difficult to remain Zen on a two-hour security line). When the body is under physical or mental stress the immune system is depressed. If it then encounters bacteria, viruses, and different antigens, it is more susceptible to illness.
Whether tourist or road warrior, most travellers have suffered from jet lag and fallen prey to a cold or sickness after travelling. With a little bit of knowledge, awareness and preparation you can limit the negative effects of travelling on your body. You’ll enjoy your trip, be alert for business meetings, and avoid illness.
The frequent traveller should incorporate some of these suggestions into their daily routine, while the occasional traveller should incorporate some of these suggestions 7-10 days before travelling. It is important to know your body: how it reacts to different foods, lack of sleep, time changes, and medical history. Then you can choose which of these strategies will work for you. Of course, before adding any supplements or herbs, you should check with your medical practitioner.
Let’s take off with the effects of air travel on the body. Usually, you arrive at the airport tired, rushed and nervous. Next, you go through security and have to wait. Chances are you’ll go to a bar or a restaurant to grab a bite or buy something to eat on the plane. What should you choose?
If it’s an overnight flight, you want to simulate a normal night’s sleep, keep awake and eat close to the normal breakfast time at your destination. This will help reset the circadian rhythms. Meals that include a high carbohydrate content and a small amount of protein are the best choice to encourage sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in complex carbohydrates, dairy products, beans, nuts, seeds, rice, meats and seafood. In the body it is changed into serotonin, which regulates appetite, sleep and mood. Serotonin is used to make melatonin in the brain to help induce sleep. Calcium aids this process, which could be expressed like this:
|Andrographs||Reduces symptoms of colds; stimulates the immune system; halts viral growth|
|Echinacea||Prevents colds, flu and infection (cannot be taken continuously)|
|Eleuthero||Helps the body adapt to stress|
|Elderberry||Halts viruses, respiratory infections|
|Green Tea Fights||infections by supporting the liver; antioxidant|
|Astragalus||Fights infection; supports the liver for detoxification, circulation|
|Quercitin||Anti germ activity|
|Beta Glucan||Offsets risk of colds; boosts immune system|
|Goldenseal||Enhances immune system|
|Olive leaf Extract||Immune enhancing; improves allergies|
|Probiotics||Protects the gut from infections|
|AHCC- mushroom||supplement Enhances the immune system|
|Cayenne pepper||Stimulates the immune system|
|Oregano||Stimulates the immune system; anti fungal|
Meals that are high in carbohydrates and low in proteins stimulate the production of melatonin. This helps you sleep and maintain blood sugar during your sleep. You should choose dishes that include pasta, rice and beans, couscous, tabbouleh, falafel, lentils, high carbohydrate vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantains, corn) and nuts and seeds (sesame or sunflower) that are high in tryptophan.
Of course whole grains are always more nutritious than processed grains and aid in keeping the immune and gastrointestinal (GI) systems on track. Depending on your choices, it may take an hour or two for the ingested tryptophan to take effect on the brain. It is important that you don’t have too much simple sugar, sweets, candies and cakes. Keep to the complex carbohydrates!
When you arrive at your destination, eat high protein foods with little or no carbohydrates content. This will stimulate the body to wake up and maintain blood sugar levels, keeping you alert. High protein foods stimulate the production of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which help the body maintain an alert state.
Besides food, you should be aware of other aspects of flying that will affect your immune system.
The pressure in the cabin is much lower than you would experience at sea level this causes gases in the body to expand and decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood. This can leave you feeling listless, dizzy, or faint and can also cause retention of fluid in the feet and legs.
The enforced immobility and cramped space in some modes of travel is a major health concern. Long periods of immobility can cause leg swelling, pain and blood clots, all of which can lead to thrombosis.
Airplane humidity is approximately 20%. This will not lead to dehydration but can dry eyes, nose, throat and skin, which are our major barriers against pathogens. A disruption in their functioning can lead to an increased susceptibility to infection.
Choose foods and herbs that boost the immune system. Oregano, echinacea, mushrooms, blueberries and a host of other nutrients all have immune-boosting properties. An easy way to make sure you are getting the immune support you need is to colour your plate. At every meal, add a food item or drink from the different colours on the list below. Road warriors, you may want to utilise some of the herbs* when you travel for an extra boost to the immune system.
When your body is under stress and your diet consists of foods low in nutrient value, it produces more free radicals, which damage the body and interfere with immune function. Antioxidants derived from fruits and vegetables can protect and repair this damage keeping your immune system strong and helping you fight off not just chronic diseases but colds, flu and other infections.
*Please contact your nutritionist or herbalist to incorporate herbs into your diet,
|Colour||Choices||Nutrient||What it does|
|Yellows/Oranges||carrot, kiwi, lemon, sweet potato, mango, pumpkin, apricots, cantaloupe, squash, peppers, dried cayenne & chilli pepper, papaya, figs, persimmons, peaches, nectarines, pineapple, sweet corn, tangerines||Vitamin ABeta Carotene, Antioxidants Flavinoids||Helps maintain skinIncreases white blood cell activityHelps fight off viral infections|
|Reds||watermelons, peppers, beets, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, radicchio, radishes, raspberries, red chilli peppers||Vitamin C Carentoids Antioxidants Flavonoids Ellagic acid Quercetin Capsaicin||Scavenge free radicalsAnti-inflammatory propertiesAllergy reliefImmune boostingCancer fightingJoint supportCardio protective|
|Green||arugula, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, endive, cucumbers, green apples, leafy greens, watercress, courgettes, basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, cilantro, spirulina, sea weed||Vitamin CFlavonoids Luteinfiber Folate Calcium Beta carotene||Boost immune systemCancer fightingLower blood pressureNormalise digestion timeMaintain Eye healthAid in detoxifying bodyPrevent the formation of carcinogens|
|Blue||black currants, blackberries, blueberries, plums, aubergines, grapes, purple potatoes, purple grapes, cabbage, raisins||Flavonoids Ellagic Acid Vitamin C Quercetin Phenols Tanins Reservatrolfiber||Boost immune systemSupport healthy DigestionDecrease free radicalsInhibit cancer cellsLower Cholesterol|
|Brown and White||pears, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, artichokes, jicama, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, shallots, parsnips, bananas, oats, barley, teas||Beta-Glucans, fiberCatechin, Epicatechin Polyphenols Vitamin A,Vitamin BCaffeine:
Teas- Black (45-60 mg/cup)
Green and White (15-20mg/cup)
|Boost immunityInfluence T cell formationMaintain GI TractAnti inflammatoryCardiac healthSupport healthy nervous system|