03 Jul Ask Jenny: Staying Healthy on a Long Haul Flight
Hi Jacquey – how exciting! I love to travel and have been lucky enough to visit some incredible places, and Vietnam is definitely on my bucket list. This trip would absolutely be considered long haul, but the majority of the advice below can be applied to both long haul and short haul flights:
1). Fuelling on the Flight
You would be surprised what foodstuffs you can actually bring on a plane, and if I’m flying any longer than 4 hours I always pack a huge salad, with a ton of plants, some great protein (quite often plant based as it tends to travel well, such as chickpeas or lentils, and some healthy fats). I will pre-order the gluten free meals on the plane, but usually just pick out the fruit and salad.
I also pack small packs of nuts, often an avocado, small packets of collagen or plant protein powder, and protein bars such as Epic, Rx or Bulletproof Collagen Bars, and some herbal teas, and packets of Four Sigmatic Mushroom coffee (I buy most of these from Thrive Market). I’d much rather be over prepared than under prepared!
Intermittent Fasting can be helpful whilst flying, and if I am taking an overnight flight (which I avoid as much as possible) I certainly will not eat the meal served after take off, and will try and go straight to sleep. I have tried IF whilst taking a day flight from Boston to London, but personally I just find this too hard! If it is a shorter flight (anything under 4 hours) I try not to eat on the flight to help with digestion and gut health.
2) Supplements To Take On The Plane
Save room in your hand luggage by taking a minimum of supplements into the cabin with you – I put just my shelf stable probiotic (I love New Chapters Probiotic All-Flora) in my hand luggage, and check the rest.
The other supplement I like to travel with is a greens powder to stir into some water, or even chlorella or spirulina powder or tablets. Airplanes are one of the most toxic places on earth and flying creates a ton of oxidative stress in the body so giving your body an extra boost of antioxidants will help you feel more alert and energized post flying.
3) Sleep Aids and Accessories
I like to wear my blue blocking glasses on any flight longer than 4 hours (and especially long haul) to help protect me from all of the blue light on board that can mess with my circadian rhythm and sleep/wake cycle.
I never, ever take a long flight without my Bucky Eye Mask, and silicone ear plugs. I also like to take some lavender oil, or pop a few drops on my neck pillow before I travel. I personally don’t use compression socks, but if you feel more comfortable with them or have circulatory issues then they are definitely a good idea.
I do take melatonin on a long flight to help me sleep, and to help me on to the local time zone when I arrive. I find 5mg is too much for me (and most people), so I usually do half of one of this.
4) Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
This is probably a given, but staying hydrated on a long haul flight is a must. I usually buy two big bottles before I board, and refill my travel bottle. If your home airport doesn’t have a water fountain with a built in filter then head to the Starbucks and ask them to fill it up as their water is triple filtered! I also like to travel with my Brita Water Filter Bottle so I can filter the water on the plane too.
5) Beating Jetlag
Jetlag really can be a killer, but there are some strategies you can implement to ease the pain! Get on the local time zone as soon as possible, expose yourself to as much daylight as your can, and try and earth yourself by standing barefoot on grass or sand as soon as you can after landing. Whilst exercise can feel like the last thing you want to do 30-40 minutes strength training can really help beat jetlag, but if this is impossible a brisk walk is also wonderful. Eat light, protein and veggie based meals throughout the day, with some carbs in your evening meal to help boost natural melatonin production.