From the idea, to the planning to packing- it’s finally time to board that flight to your dream vacation. We know from experience that flying doesn’t come without its flight risks when it comes to health. Dry, partially recycled cabin air plus low humidity creates an ideal environment for dehydration, digestive issues and immune suppression- all leading to feeling less than ideal when stepping off the plane and into your vacation. Thankfully, with a few holistic health hacks, you can feel unstoppable walking off the plane and into your much deserved vacation!
1) Prep your Immune System
The entire process of travelling from crowded airports to the cabin of an airplane doesn’t support health. With recycled air and time spent in close proximity to others and their germs- it’s no wonder people are 100x more likely to catch a cold while flying than in everyday life.
Taking extra care to eat nutritious foods and get adequate sleep leading up to a flight can help prepare the immune system and reduce susceptibility to infections caused by the bacteria that inhabit aircrafts.
Vitamin C has over 20 functions in the immune system alone, and it’s a saving grace when it comes to air travel. Loading up pre, during and post flight gives the immune system the extra boost it needs to combat the influx of pathogens that circulate in-flight. Lypo-Spheric® Vitamin C comes in easily transportable packets that are airport security friendly.
Dehydration on a flight can also increase the risk of catching a cold, which is why we recommend you…
2) Pack a water bottle and fill it up after security
Dehydration contributes to the sneaky post flight cold that threatens to ruin your vacation. While staying hydrated in the air is a challenge, for this reason, it’s one we’ll gladly accept.
We can thank the humidity levels for this. In-fight humidity usually sits around 20%, which is approximately 10% lower than what the body is used to. This drop-in humidity contributes significantly to dehydration, and as a result, the mucous membranes that line the nose and mouth start to dry up.
Mucous membranes are a protective mechanism and the body’s first line defense against foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. When they become dryer, they can’t destroy pathogens and stop them from entering the body. Staying hydrated in-flight prevents the mouth, nose and throat from becoming dry and therefore decreases the probability of contracting a cold, or worse- the flu! Of course, taking a Lypo-Spheric® Vitamin C in flight provides extra insurance.
How much water should you be drinking? The Aerospace medical association recommends 8oz of water for each hour spent in the air, and we agree!
3) Fast or pack your own food
The pressure of cabin air is only about 75% of normal atmospheric pressure. This means there is less available oxygen and therefore less oxygen circulating in the blood. This matters because the body needs sufficient oxygen for digestion to operate efficiently. While the digestive system doesn’t shut down in-flight, it doesn’t operate at full capacity.
Compromised digestion plus processed, insta-ready meals provided by airlines is the perfect storm for digestive disturbances that can linger for a few days.
If fasting is part of your regular wellness practice, giving your body a break while at altitude will leave you with much more energy as you come back to ground level. If fasting isn’t a practice your body is used to it can cause added stress and unstable blood sugar levels leading to fatigue, irritability and dizzy spells. Our solution? Pack your own nutritious, easy to digest foods such as fruits and vegetables. Bonus- they’ll help keep you hydrated!
4) Walk Around
Long-haul flights involve a lot of sitting, and sitting at high altitude can cause blood to pool in the legs. Getting up and walking the isles improves circulation, decreases the risk for blood clots and can prevent swelling of the ankles and feet.
If you are at risk for blood clots, especially deep vein thrombosis, compression socks can be beneficial. Compression socks support the veins and push blood back up to the heart with less effort from the body.
The benefits of a much deserved vacation absolutely offset the temporary disturbances that happen to the body during air travel. Being proactive about health pre, during and post flight can reduce fatigue, headaches and nausea that often accompany the drop in humidity and altered air pressure. Filling up on nutritious foods, increasing hydration three days preflight and supporting the immune system will go a long way in ensuring you land feeling your best and ready to switch into vacation mode!
We wish you a safe and happy flight and an even happier vacation!
Author: Lisa Kowalyk, CNP