Keep Calm & Travel On: Avoiding Jet Lag Ayurveda Style

By Diana Bellofatto

By Diana Bellofatto

If there was a list of the most dehydrating activities, you can bet your mini bag of in-flight snack pretzels that flying would be way up at the top!

On the bright side, Ayurveda, with its infinite wisdom, has its own wily ways of foiling the negative effects of flying.

Why We Get Dry When We Fly

Flying subjects the body to high altitude and noise levels, extreme velocity, and cold temperatures; all of which weaken digestion and create a build up of air and space in the body. This classic combination of excess space and air elements is otherwise known as vata dosha.

Vata dosha contributes to side effects of dryness in the intestines that provokes gas, bloating, constipation, lethargy, and nervousness that can linger longer even after you land.

Factor in breathing in stale air, being confined to a small space, and landing in a different time zone, and the body can become totally taxed and tired.

HYDRATE

Pre-hydrate by hydrating well in the days leading up to travel. The general rule of thumb for hydrating is to drink half of your healthy, ideal body weight in ounces per day. Drink more if you sweat, or drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages. Also, 

  • Favor warm or room temperature water, never cold
  • Bring along an electrolyte for the flight
  • Drink warm water or herbal teas without caffeine during the flight. You can team up with teas like tulsi, ginger, turmeric, and peppermint for their immune boosting, adaptogenic and digestive qualities
  • Consider bringing along your own thermal bottle and tea bags and ask the flight attendant to fill your bottle with hot water
  • Alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages are not your friends when flying! These substances are all dehydrating.
  • Drink 8 ounces of water or more for each hour you are going to be in the air.

EAT RIGHT

Meals should be moderate and excessive snacking should be avoided throughout the flight. Also, avoid cold/dry foods and pungent spices like wasabi and hot chilis. Favor warm, moist, well-cooked foods as much as possible.

There a many options for travel containers that keep food warm if you are amenable to bringing your own homemade meal with you, including the classic tiffin carriers and bento boxes.

Kichari is a perfect meal to pack for the plane. It is nutritious, easy on digestion, and soothes the intestines. Find our kichari recipe here.

When a cooked meal is not an option, pack foods such as fresh fruit, nuts, seeds; dried fruits like dates and figs; fresh baked, moist muffins; olives; and hard boiled eggs—as long as you know these foods don’t normally create intestinal distress for you. *Eat fruit by itself, 30 minutes before other food or, a couple hours after other food.

If you are unable or not inclined to pack your own food, you can carry along a small jar of spice mix to sprinkle on your food, making it more easily digested.  

Eat at a moderate pace, chew your food well, and avoid drinking with meals. Take only small sips of water if necessary and wait 30 minutes after meals before resuming hydration.

LUBRICATE

Use unrefined organic sesame oil for its anti-bacterial benefits. Sesame oil is also a heavier oil that helps keep the skin from cracking and provides a coat of armor against unwanted invaders.

Just as pre-hydration is preventative care for maintaining healthy moisture levels in the body, so are full body, warm oil massages and the administering of a few drops of oil in the nose and ears in the days leading up to the flight.

Re-lubricate exposed areas of the body, such as the hands, face, nose, and ears every couple hours while flying.

COVER UP, BUTTERCUP

Excess space and air (vata dosha) loves to creep into the ears and at the back of the neck. Keep your neck covered with a scarf or neck gator and wear a knit hat.

Use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones.

Energy escapes through our eyes and the eyes get dried out while flying. Close your eyes and/or use an eye mask. Keep as much of your skin covered as possible by wearing long sleeved shirts and pants instead of tank tops, shorts, or a dress. 

To prevent your legs and feet from swelling on longer flights, compression socks are recommended. Compression socks come in various levels of pressure. In general, a moderate level of pressure is usually a good choice. Sock companies also offer cooling or warming options and longer or shorter lengths. Consult with your health care practitioner to be sure that compression socks are right for you and which level of pressure you should use.

HERBAL HELPERS

Consult with your health care practitioner to discuss an herbal regimen that is right for your unique constitution. The herbs listed here are highlighted insofar as how their benefits pertain to supporting us when we travel but it is useful to remember that herbs are multi-faceted and can have multiple functions.

If an herb is new to you, it is a good idea to start using it a couple of weeks before travel to be sure that it is the right fit for you.

It’s always a good idea to keep your immune system strong and especially, while traveling. Shakti Drops come in a size that is suitable for carrying with you on the plane.  Below is a comprehensive list of immunity products available at srisritattvausa, based on their uses. 

  • When you want to hit the ground running to have fun or need to be on point for work, ashwaghanda has the ability to fortify and is great for helping to curtail jet lag. 
  • As mentioned, slow, sluggish digestion, gas, bloating and constipation are typical side effects of flying. Herbs inform the body and teach it how to function properly. Triphala supports the integrity of your intestinal functions for regular bowel movements. 
  • If you tend to suffer more intensely from gas, bloating, and constipation, haritaki can help alleviate it.
  • If there is a chance that nervousness aggravates your intestines causing diarrhea, amla can be a good fit. Amla is also loaded with vitamin C and commonly used for immune support as well.
  • The effects of flying can leave us spaced out and anxious. Brahmi is a superstar when it comes to supporting the mind.
  • Herbal combinations are common in Ayurveda. It is often the case that combining herbs creates a synergistic effect and can make the herbs even more efficacious. If you feel the need for immune support and strength, Ashwagandhadi is a good choice.
  • There is also the Immunity Kit, containing herbs that enhance immunity and respiratory function, decongest, balance digestion, detoxify, and dispel inflammation.
  • Turmeric Plus targets inflammation that can result from flying and it also supports immunity. 

MELLOW YOUR MOOD

If you tend to get anxious or irritable when you fly, refrain from reading or watching anything suspenseful, scary, or, stressful during the flight. Bring your own beats—listening to binaural beats for stress reduction is a soothing way to relax the body and mind. You can have your own personal music or spiritual, religious, or inspirational compilations downloaded and ready to go, too. Other ways to get or stay mellow include

POST FLIGHT

Keep hydrating, hydrating, hydrating!! 

As soon as you can, lie down and raise your legs above your heart for 30 minutes. You can lie on the floor and put your legs up on a wall or on a bed. Get outside for a walk to get circulation going and breathe in some fresh air!

Practice yoga. Many airports even have designated yoga areas! These poses focus on balancing digestion. 

Pay attention to your nourishment when you land. Ojasvita herbal supplement mix can be easily packed into your suitcase. 

And finally, continue to lubricate your body generously during your travels and maintain your herbal regimen.

Bon voyage and be well!

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