4 Ways To Solve Your Jetlag & Feel Great
Travelling is tough on everyone. If its not the altitude, then it’s the jet lag, or its the change in environmental factors like the air, water or food that can all have an impact on our bodies. And especially on our guts.
So often I hear of people who haven’t pooped in days and days after flying somewhere new. Or people complain, that they feel bloated and ugh after a long flight. Then of course you have the confused circadian rhythm where your awake in the night and groggy during the day (worse depending on what timeszones you cross).
You could get lucky and get a package deal. EVERYTHING.
Yay! This is just what you want for the first days of your holiday, or biz trip, right? Fatigue, bloated and unable to poo. Happy Holiday right?
It’s not all doom and gloom and never travel again.
If you find yourself suffering with any of these issues when you travel there ARE things you can do, and they cost almost nothing.
Travel Hack 1 - Salt
Salt is not the demon it has been made out to be. Salt is still regularly vilified for raising blood pressure, and for causing water retention. This article is not going to go into the salt & BP relationship, but let's just say there are many other variables that are involved in that one. Salt causes water retention - YES it does, it improves the cells ability to utilise the water you drink. This is a good thing.
(Obviously not if you are a bodybuilding about to compete - but otherwise it’s beneficial). Salt is minerals. Your body needs minerals. Adding a pinch of quality salt (sea salt, Himalayan salt)
Spring (mineral) water - better quality of water with the minerals you need rather than the heavy metals you don’t. Quality water? Optimised hydration.
Often we are thirsty for electrolytes more than just water, so drinking water with minerals can be the best way to actually hydrate ourselves. And when you are hydrated, the stress of travelling and altitude is minimised.
The simple way to do this, it to just add mineral electrolytes to your water as you travel. What you need is found in salt like sea salt. Just add a pinch to your water to help restore your mineral balance and keep your body in an opimtium state of hydration while you undertake the notoriously dehydrating task of flying.
Sea salt contains more than 60 trace minerals, beyond the sodium chloride and iodine that you’ll find in that standard table salt. These minerals are essential for the body and combined perform so many functions in the body.
>>Remember, since flying is already dehydrating be viligent with your water intake especially if you are choosing to drink things like coffee, black tea and alcohol on flights. All of things things further dehydrate you, so make sure you are consuming more water if you choose this path!
Travel Hack 2 - IF + Smart Eating
Ok, so this one has changed the flying game for me.
As someone who works hard on digestive function personally, flying long haul (sometimes even short haul) used to really F up my digestive system. I would get bloated, my tummy would feel like it was full of air and I was usually unable to go to the toilet for a while just to make it all the more comfortable.
I found that the event of flying, sitting for long periods, the altitude and the usually average food really did nothing for my gut. This is where I bought Intermittent fasting into my travelling routine. Unless you’ve been under a rock you have surely heard of fasting, its fast (haha) become a trend in health circles. For me removing the stress of eating on flights has allowed my body to focus on resting and combating the other stressors flying throws at you - rather than it working on digesting.
Now, if you already have some form of fasting in your routine then this might be something for you to try. I always make sure my last meal before a fast contains decent healthy fats (avocado is a simple and fab choice) so that I am well set up with stable blood sugar. Depending on the time you are flying, will depend on when you start fasting, work with what feels natural for you - but I would generally recommending not eating at least 4 hours before boarding. Herbal teas and powered broth are great things to take on board with you if you feel you can benefit from having more than just water. I always have both on hand - herbs because they help sleep or wake as you need and broth, well its mineral dense and a gut healer. No brainer.
IMPORTANT- if you do not currently fast, I am not advocating you try it for a long haul flight. You will hate it. And end up hating life and me most likely.
What you can do though - is smart eating. By this I mean, making choices that are supportive of your body and gut.
Bone Broth (for the same reasons as I mention above). Trust me on this one.
Nutrient dense snacks to keep you from reaching for the crap available at airports. Things like nuts, seeds or even vegetable sticks from home**.
Choosing a plane meals:
Depending on if you have allergies or not, sometimes asking for the vegetarian meal can be a good idea as it is often the cleaner meal and usually includes raw veggies.
If you are happy to have the meal provided to you (these are sometimes getting better) - don’t be afraid to ask what is in it (hidden nasties you don’t normally eat can cause havoc on your system). Awareness can help a lot here! (And often, the airlines will have something alternative spare if you really need - asking is key!)
Travel Hack 3 - Movement
This one is two fold - firstly movement BEFORE you fly, and secondly movement WHILE you fly.
So, before a long haul plan the time to get your body moving and you lymphatic system activated. It doesn’t matter what this movement is, it just needs to be something that works for you. If that is getting in one more HIIT workout, or Pilates class, or even a long walk - it all achieves the same purpose.
Move your body in a way you love, and that makes you feel good. (The feel good factor matters here, if you hate the exercise you choose it has a negative impact).
Now, while you are flying (especially for those fab 10-17 hour flights), be mindful of getting up and moving while on the plane. Most people sit, sleep and watch movies all flight, very few people actually get up a move much - which is perfect for you, plenty of space to MOVE!
I try to move every 1-2 hours on a long haul, and usually walk up and down aisle a couple of times before using the big space at the back of most planes (by the staff galley) and doing some stretching.
My go-to movements, are calf raises, hamstring stretches, and crossing one ankle over my knee and bending to stretch out my hip/glute. I will often also do a few full bends, and half way lifts (yoga peeps you know what I mea), as well as a few yin poses if they space allows. My absolute fav is the squat pose (see here if you need details) which I find opens up my hips, lower back and helps with swelling in my ankles.
Biggest block to doing these on your flight - caring what people think! Don’t worry about them, they can feel awful when they land, you can feel fresh and ready to go!
Travel Hack 4 - Light
Ok, so light is the number one thing that can affect your circadian rhythm and therefore impact whether you think it is night or day when you are flying or arriving in a new Timezone.
Planning ahead to look at what the time will be when you land can really help to understand when to sleep on the flight and when to try and be awake/ use your personal light to start working on adapting to the new Timezone.
There is actually even an app that can help with this adjustment process, its called Timeshifter and I am about to trial it for the first time on my next long haul tonight.
What I usually do though, is pay attention to the local time I will be landing in in advance, and try to forget about the Timezone of where I have come from, because that no longer matters. If possible you want to stay awake in your new Timezone until a normal bed time on the first night so you can adapt quickly. In order to do this effectively I do a few things;
By planning ahead, I try and schedule plane naps to allow me to have the energy to be awake until bed on arrival
After arriving at my destination, I make sure I get time to move my body outside in the natural light (if day time) to help adjust my circadian rhythm to its new timezone
I get my barefeet on the earth to ground myself to where I am in the world, so I can feel connected and more centred after flying around the world.
I make sure an alarm is set for the time I want to wake up throughout my trip to start as I mean to go forward, and always start that first morning with movement and hydration.
So there you have it, my go to hacks for not screwing up your digestive system and to avoid jet lag where possible when travelling. Have you tried any of these suggestions? I would love to hear how you find them, or if you have anything else that you swear by! Leave a comment below…
Happy travelling ✌🏼