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Travel can be unkind to your body. As you age, jet lag may hit you harder, exposure to foreign germs may frighten you, and an exotic diet may make you queasy.
What’s the key to carefree travels? Beyond following a few basic healthy habits—getting enough rest, drinking plenty of water, eating wisely, and doing some form of exercise—there are several natural solutions that can give you a leg up on traveling, leaving you refreshed and able to enjoy any vacation or business trip to the fullest.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” –Saint Augustine
Travel hazard: Poor leg circulation
One of the most alarming possible risks frequent travelers face is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a serious condition involving blood clots in the legs. These clots can break away and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, causing potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. Sitting for an extended period of time while riding in a car or airplane appears to raise the risk of DVT.
Natural solutions: To reduce DVT risk in flight, it’s important to regularly change your leg positions and periodically move and stretch your legs and feet while seated by rotating your ankles and flexing and stretching your calf and thigh muscles. Drinking plenty of non-diuretic fluids (e.g., water, decaffeinated teas) is also vital.
Pycnogenol, a proprietary pine bark extract, has been shown to help reduce DVT risk. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 198 people already at risk for developing blood clots and on a flight lasting four hours, four people taking a placebo experienced superficial blood clots and one developed DVT; there were no blood clots in the Pycnogenol group.
Travel hazard:Jet lag
If you are traveling by plane over several time zones, you may experience difficulty falling asleep and daytime fatigue. To acclimate yourself to the local time, move your mealtime forward or back for about one week before your trip. Also, starting a few days before the trip, go to bed a little earlier each night. This especially helps if you are traveling westbound.
Avoid drinking coffee or alcohol on longer flights, especially if you are traveling abroad.Either can disrupt your sleep, leaving you tired.
Book a flight that allows you to arrive in daylight, if possible. Sunshine helps regulate your internal clock, so get outdoors for a walk—even if you would rather take a nap. An hour of aerobic exercise within 24 hours of landing helps your body adapt to a new time zone.
Natural solutions: Melatonin has been shown to help prevent and treat jet lag. It appears to work by helping reset the body’s internal clock. When it comes to melatonin dosages, everyone is different. Some people respond to a low dose of the supplement (e.g., 0.5 mg of melatonin), while others need a higher dose to induce sleep and alleviate jet lag symptoms. It is safe to take up to 5 mg per day.
NADH is a substance that occurs naturally in the body. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 35 people taking an overnight flight across four time zones received either 20 mg of NADH sublingually, or a placebo sublingually upon daytime arrival. Participants were then given tests of mental alertness 90 minutes after taking the NADH, and then five hours later. Those in the NADH group did significantly better than those taking the placebo.
Travel hazard: Digestive distress
The old cliché of foreign travel, “don’t drink the water,” rings true. When you are traveling to a foreign country, you have a 20 to 50 percent chance of developing traveler’s diarrhea, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are obvious signs of a food- or water-borne intestinal illness. But other causes of intestinal problems can be more serious and sometimes harder to recognize. For example, red or black stools can be a sign of parasites. And a fever suggests a more serious infection. Seek medical attention with either of these symptoms.
Natural solutions: One of the best ways to protect your intestines while traveling is by taking probiotics (e.g., acidophilus) at least a week before foreign travel and taking a non-refrigerated probiotic throughout your trip.
Having bottled water with you at all times is also important for preventing digestive illnesses. In some countries, it’s wise to avoid tap water completely and use bottled water for all of your daily hygiene, including brushing your teeth and washing your face.
Digestive enzymes are also an important travel remedy to pack. They can help support the body’s digestive process, fight off intruding bacteria, and ease digestive upset from unfamiliar foods. Take one to two capsules with meals. Pineapple and papaya are good sources of digestive enzymes, so enjoy these fruits if they are available.
Wherever You May Roam, Take the Spa With You!
- Pack a travel-size bottle of massage oil for those aching muscles, and aromatherapy bath oil to help you relax. Homeopathic creams for pain that include arnica and other healing remedies are also perfect to take along on trips where you might be walking more than usual or spending large parts of the day outdoors (e.g., hiking, skiing).
- Also for achy muscles: Add a packet of effervescent vitamin C to your bath for relief. And also add the packets to water bottles for added immune support and electrolyte replenishment. Or pack a bottle of chewable vitamin C.
- Dedicate 10 minutes at night and in the morning to stretching to stay energized.
- To look refreshed after a long flight, pack a gel eye mask and chill it in the ice bucket in your hotel room.
- Carry lavender essential oils. Lavender helps promote a sense of calmness and may help fight stress and boost mood. Place a few drops on your pillowcase for peaceful sleep. You can also place a few drops on a tissue and wipe over toilet seat or the bathroom counter top to disinfect them. Also good for travel: peppermint essential oil, which helps fend off fatigue and encourage mental alertness. Rub a drop between your middle fingers and then stroke on your temples and the hollows at the sides of the back of your neck where it meets your skull.
- Protect your skin from sunburn with a travel-size sunscreen. Bring one that is a little bit stronger than your everyday sunscreen if you plan to be out in the sun all day.
- Retaining water can be a side effect of a long flight. Try adding sliced cucumber, a natural diuretic, to water. This will help reduce any unnecessary water retention while keeping you hydrated.
Don’t Leave Home Without It
Don’t zip up that suitcase just yet—be sure to pack these healthy travel products for a worry-free trip.
MASTER SUPPLEMENTSTheralac Travel Pack is a probiotic formula that does not require refrigeration—perfect for short or long trips.
NATURE’S PLUSChewable Lovites are tasty, fruit-flavored tablets with 250 mg of vitamin C per serving. These are perfect for the whole family.
HIMALAYAHerbal Healthcare Party Smart is ideal for anyone mixing travel with alcoholic beverages. Grab a travel-size box of this herbal-based product and take daily for liver support and relief from overindulgence in wine, beer, or spirits.
BADGERSPF 35 Sport Sunscreen Stick is unscented and made with natural zinc oxide. We love that it’s also water-resistant and easy to stash in a purse or bag.
UDO’S CHOICEAdult Enzyme Blend is a comprehensive enzyme blend that boasts higher concentrations of certain enzymes for extra digestive support.
THE HONEST COMPANYTravel Wipes are biodegradable and free of chemicals and common allergens. They are made with soothing botanicals like chamomile and cucumber, and are great for babies, kids, and adults.
TOPRICINPain Relief and Healing Cream is a homeopathic formula with arnica and other remedies that works quickly to ease overworked, achy, and stiff muscles.
TWINLABMelatonin Dots have 3 mg of melatonin and are designed to dissolve quickly in your mouth, so you can use anywhere, anytime.