Winter time in New Zealand often means time to pack up the bags and head to warmer waters. Although New Zealand is the perfect country everytime of the year (a little biased), we are very isolated and traveling to new destinations often involves long-haul flights, stop-overs, many airports, and the inevitable jet lag upon arrival and throughout the holiday. Scientists estimate that it can take you a full day to recover from jet lag for every hour of time difference. So just traveling across the ditch to Australia can take Kiwis 3 days to recover! But what if I told you that there are ways to hack your jet lag and decrease the stress our bodies go through when we cross multiple time zones.
Jet lag is described as a physiological condition that results from disruptions in one’s circadian rhythm due to long-distance, trans-meridian travel. Add cramped seats, no leg room or place to lie horizontal, non-nutritious food, travel stress, boredom, and a lack of room to exercise and you have a recipe for tiredness, inflammation, and general discomfort upon arriving at your chosen destination. This is certainly not how we pictured our idyllic holiday and we don’t want to spend it in this state or return to work like this coupled with the classic post-holiday blues.
Below are some key nutrition strategies to decrease the negative effects of jet lag so you can settle into a new time zone quicker and do what you came to do – catch some rays, relax, and enjoy every moment in your new destination.
Fasting has been proven to help our bodies adjust to new time changes. Fasting for 14-24 hours before your next planned meal in your new time zone has powerful effects on your internal body clock. I find it helpful to change my watch before I leave to my new destination’s time and then I can plan when to eat around the times I will most likely be eating at my new destination. This sometimes means skipping some of the non-nutritious meals on the plane when the timing doesn’t align. For example, if they serve breakfast on the plane at 4:00 am local time, I will skip this meal and have a protein shake and a piece of fruit a few hours later. This allows me to sleep for longer and signals to my body that it is morning time when I break my fast.
INLINE NUTRITION PROTEIN POWDER
Bringing a bag of Inline Nutrition’s Lean Protein Powder is great for your travels. Our 500g bag is small and convenient to take in your carry-on luggage and it is in a powdered form so you can easily get through security with it. The protein will help you keep fuller for longer so you aren’t tempted to mindlessly snack. Inline Nutrition also has added Vitamin-D which will strengthen your overworked immune system when traveling. Bring your Inline Nutrition shaker, add a scoop of protein and ask the flight attendant for whichever liquid you prefer! The 500g bag can last you the whole holiday and ensures you will always have a healthy source of protein on your travels.
Our bodies naturally produce melatonin when it begins to get dark. Melatonin signals to our body that it is time to sleep. Since travel disrupts our circadian rhythm and we have to adjust to new time zones, taking a melatonin supplement can help our confused bodies adjust to new bedtimes. You can begin your melatonin supplement before you travel by taking 0.5mg of melatonin for 3 nights, one hour before normal bedtime in your new location. You’re not going to induce sleepiness because the dosage is so small, but you are going to have less adjusting to do once you arrive.
Airplanes blast the airconditioning from take-off to landing and this artificial air is a problem for our skin, eyes, and hydration status. Ensure you bring a large bottle of water with you and try to constantly sip on it. You will most likely need to take a few trips to the bathroom, but this is a great opportunity to get up, move around the plane and stretch your legs.
Other hacks for jet lag besides nutritional hacks include…
Wearing earplugs and an eye mask on the plane to decrease stress from noise pollution and help you sleep easier on the plane.
Move frequently throughout the flight by getting up and stretching in the bathroom or down the aisle to improve blood flow and decrease joint stiffness.
Exercise lightly once you arrive at your new destination or at a similar time to when you would normally exercise at home.
Wear compression socks on flights to decrease your risk of swollen ankles and developing DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis).
Try grounding – walking/exercising/standing on the earth/grass with bare feet. I have never tried this one but apparently grounding speeds recovery, lowers inflammation, and normalizes cortisol.
Expose yourself to sunlight as quickly as possible at your new destination. This allows our bodies to take up Vitamin-D, helps reset our internal clocks, work on our tan, and makes us happy!
I hope these travel tips help you in your future travels to reduce jet lag so you can get on with enjoying your holiday.