I am often asked about the challenges of not just travel in general, but specifically of air travel. If you have done much flying, you may notice that you don’t feel as great when you land and sometimes that “off” feeling can last for a day or even a few days. What’s that all about? And more importantly, what can we do about it? That’s what we will discuss in this post.
There was a study published in 2018 that looked at the health of flight attendants. This study concluded that flight attendants had an increased risk of sleep disorders, anxiety/depression, alcohol abuse, cancers, peripheral artery disease, sinus issues, foot surgeries and infertility as compared to the control group.1 There are lots of factors that contribute to this issue including: poor air quality, disrupted sleep schedules, low oxygen levels, inhalation from cabin disinfecting cleaning agents, occupational noise and more.
So what happens in the air?
There are indeed many health challenges to flying. I am not talking about plane crashes or irritations from TSA. I am referring to the impact that your health endures when you participate in air travel.
For many, myself included, air travel is part of my regular routine. So, I have worked hard to find the best health hacks to help you mitigate the challenges of being in the air!
A few common issues associated with flying:
- Radiation/EMF- Yes, unfortunately, you are exposed to radiation both in the scanners at the airport AND in the air. Radiation is dangerous to health so much so that there are studies indicating it is harmful to keep your cell phone near your body.2 One such study even explores the lowered sperm count levels in men who keep their cell phone in their pocket.3 Radiation creates oxidative stress in the body which is associated with higher incidences of cancer and other disease.4
- Swollen feet/ankles and blood clots- Blood clots, often referred to as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) form from long periods of time sitting without movement. Lower levels of oxygen in the pressurized cabin can make your blood thicker and thus easier to clot. However, it’s important to note that this exasperates an issue that is pre-existing.5 Otherwise healthy people do not need to worry about getting blood clots from flying.
- Dehydration and digestive issues- Digestion slows down when you fly. But dehydration picks up.
Ugh, but what about vacation…Remain calm, I’ve got you covered.
The good news:
Of course, there are lots of things you can do to offset these concerns. But first, let me just say that your first line of defense is always just have a solid foundation of health to begin with. Of course, I will give you lots of hacks for what to do on the plane etc, but a person who lives a healthy lifestyle, will endure these challenges much more favorably and will over all feel better than someone who isn’t so healthy.
Lower leg swelling and blood clots:
The key here is movement. When you get to the airport and through TSA, find your gate, purchase a bottle of good water, and then WALK…don’t sit at your gate…get moving, either walking, stretching or yoga until you are ready to board. This improves circulation, burns calories and can help prevent lower leg swelling.
If your flight is only a few hours, typically you’ll be okay…but if it’s longer, you will want to move as much as possible. Simply getting up to use the restroom every hour or so can help. If you are drinking all the water you need, this is a natural result lol. But even if you’re not able to get up, you can do simple movements in your seat like ankle rotations, knee raises and some lower back stretches (think cat/cow stretch while seated).
Time zone changes (jet lag): Jet lag occurs when your body is off its normal 24 hour light/dark/sleep/wake cycles.6 Some people are more sensitive than others to time changes. Typically, an hour or two isn’t a major problem but 3 or more can really get you off your schedule. For this, I’ve got you covered:
- Consume 1-3 tsp of Green Tea ND the day that you fly and also in the mornings once at your new destination (as well as the day that you fly back home). The polyphenols in this product will help your body create energy, reduce radiation, handle toxins and reduce inflammation.7
- Use a few drops of Melatonin at night in your new destination.6– take this just before you want to go to sleep. *Note- I don’t recommend just any melatonin as most of them do not test well and aren’t high quality. Anything I use/take or recommend to clients has passed the energetic test (using QRA).
- Do your best to adjust to the schedule of the new time zone right away. In other words, if you land at 8pm but where you came from it’s only 5pm, I’d still recommend winding down and going to bed soon to help support your body being able to wake up at a good local time the next morning. The melatonin will help with this since you may not feel quite as tired as you otherwise would.
- Get sunlight on your face if at all possible first thing in the morning.8 Your brain equates early morning light with being awake and alert.
Remediating electro-magnetic fields (EMF):
I do this from multiple angles for flying for sure but even when I am not flying. This is part of my everyday life. First, I have a remediation device on my computer and cell phones. This works great for keeping me safe from the EMFs from these devices, in addition to the extra that you get in the air. I also have a personal protection device that I wear on my body. Finally, I have a longer range remediator that can be used for a house or hotel room that I always carry with me and use when I am not in my own space.
First, don’t go through the scanners at the airport. Either get TSA pre-check or opt out and ask for a pat down. It takes a bit longer but is worth it for your health. (PS, the TSA agents often aren’t happy about this…that’s okay, it’s not their body!)
You also receive radiation on the plane when you’re in the air. For this, I like to use a powerful antioxidant supplement like Green Tea ND (this is NOT the same as drinking a cup of green tea). The longer your flight, the more radiation exposure you get. The dosage for this would range from 1-3 teaspoons for most flights in the US (also depending on body size) and of course more if you’re flying around the world.
The best remedy if you’re on a short flight is to not eat much or eat lighter easy to digest foods such as fresh fruit and raw vegetables or salads. Avoiding heavy foods, fats, processed foods and excessive calories will help your body not get bogged down. Don’t stress or starve over this. If you’re hungry, go ahead and eat. Just bring fresh juicy snacks like cucumber slices, berries and other fruits. If you do need something more, salads or other bean/rice/veggie bowls are okay as well…just hold off on the fats (avocados, nuts/seeds, oils, etc).
The pressure and dryness of cabin air increases fluid loss.6 However, the real key to staying hydrated starts before you ever get on your plane. Drinking lots of water the day before and day of your flight as well as on your flight are all important. Ideally, add minerals to your water such as a pinch of Pink Salt, a few drops of pH Minerals or even some fresh lemon juice.
For more specific information about staying healthy while you travel in terms of how to prepare, what to eat and what to pack, check out “Taking Your Health on the Road”.
- If your destination is 6-8 hours away or less, it may be worth driving. By the time you get to the airport early, check in and then fly, land, get bags, get your rental car, you may not be saving much time. In most cases, it’s easier and healthier to drive vs fly.
- Prepare for flying by increasing your health care routine for a couple of days before you travel (increase your exercise, stay extra hydrated, take your supplements, etc). These things can help offset the jet lag.
- Speaking of water at the airport, most bottled waters do NOT test good (including Dasani, Smart water and Aquafina). This can be due to the water itself but more often is because of the synthetic minerals or other “taste enhancers” that are added. The best ones to get if you can find them would be Fiji or Evian. Who cares about cost at this point…you need to stay hydrated with good quality water when you fly!
These things will help you feel so much better and thus get way more out of your trip, be it a work trip where you’re wanting to be sharp and efficient, or a vacation where you just want to be relaxed and feel great.
1. McNeely E, Mordukhovich I, Tideman S, Gale S, Coull B. Estimating the health consequences of flight attendant work: Comparing flight attendant health to the general population in a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2018. doi:10.1186/s12889-018-5221-3
2. Miller AB, Sears ME, Morgan LL, et al. Risks to health and well-being from radio-frequency radiation emitted by cell phones and other wireless devices. Front Public Heal. 2019. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2019.00223
3. Gorpinchenko I, Nikitin O, Banyra O, Shulyak A. The influence of direct mobile phone radiation on sperm quality. Cent Eur J Urol. 2014. doi:10.5173/ceju.2014.01.art14
4. Pizzino G, Irrera N, Cucinotta M, et al. Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017. doi:10.1155/2017/8416763
5. Bartholomew JR, Evans NS. Travel-related venous thromboembolism. Vasc Med (United Kingdom). 2019. doi:10.1177/1358863X18818323
6. Halson SL, Burke LM, Pearce J. Nutrition for travel: From jet lag to catering. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2019. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2018-0278
7. Chen L, Mo H, Zhao L, et al. Therapeutic properties of green tea against environmental insults. J Nutr Biochem. 2017. doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2016.05.005
8. Roach GD, Sargent C. Interventions to minimize jet lag after westward and eastward flight. Front Physiol. 2019. doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.00927
Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease. It does not take the place of a qualified health care practitioner and is intended for educational purposes only.