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The Other Mile High Club: Beat Jet Lag and Stay Healthy in the Air

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in flight

From dry air to turbulence to being in close proximity to hundreds of, let's call them contagious people, air travel is taxing on the body. If you are someone who travels a lot, messing with your body's natural rhythms regularly can compromise your health and affect with your sleep cycles, leaving you in a perpetual state of jet lag and unable to stick to a regular diet or fitness plan. The following 3 tips will help you to not only overcome jet lag but also maintain your health before, during and after flying high, especially on long-haul flights.

1. Tend to Digestion

Flying interferes with digestion. Sitting in one position for a long period of time slows down digestive processes and can cause many people to become constipated for several days following their flights. This is to say nothing about flight anxiety, which puts the body in a state of stress and further stints proper digestion. To prevent digestive difficulties, take a probiotic alongside a glass of water on an empty stomach prior to your flight. The probiotic will provide your colon with healthy bacteria and contribute to overall colon health. Try your best not to eat anything heavy before your flight and as little as possible during the flight. Instead, focus on liquids, raw fruits, vegetables, and light fare. The easier the food is to digest, the better. If you have the option to choose your meal prior to the flight, use this privilege to your advantage.

2. Sleep According to Your Destination

To beat jet lag, the best advice I can give is to wait until nighttime at your destination before hitting the hay. This means, on the day of your arrival, no napping or going to bed early. Go to bed at the time you normally would, even if it's difficult. By doing this the first day, you push yourself in the new time zone immediately and the remainder of your trip won't be ridden with fatigue and jet lag excuses to friends, family, co-workers or clients.

If sleeping according to your destination's time zone means catching some sleep on the plane, try your best to do so. Sleeping on the plane is an impossibility for many people, including myself. I just can't seem to do it. Don't turn to sleeping pills, though. Instead, equip yourself with relaxing music and dress in comfortable clothing so that you can at least rest. I recently discovered that wrapping a sweater around my head and leaning against a raised arm rest puts me in a daze, if not a light sleep. Try it out! The sweater gives me complete displacement from the airplane and an added sense of comfort against an otherwise insufficient pillow.

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3. Water, Water, Water!

The air inside planes is dry and dehydrating. Ask for water as much as possible, or else you may find yourself fighting fatigue for days to come. As for food, you want to only consume high-water-containing foods before and during your flight to ensure you are hydrated and not weighed down by heavy, dry fare that further leaves you with a dry mouth and flaky skin.

I'll be the first to admit that I like to drink wine in-flight, because I find that it calms me and helps me to fall into a daze that somewhat resembles sleep. However, I nixed this habit when I realized how dehydrating alcohol was making my body. Ultimately, alcohol consumption on flights will dehydrate you further and can lead to headaches and drowsiness. Try to avoid sodas and sugary drinks as well, as those will not nourish you the way water and fresh fruit juice can.

Before a flight, I always make sure to drink a green juice. I find that it not only hydrates me but also boosts my energy and brings a deluge of vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and enzymes to my blood. Try it out and see how you feel.

Image: Kevin Morris

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