How to stay healthy when flying

Emily Hyland

Adventuring into the unknown, packing your bags and leaving the routine behind! You’ve been planning this trip of a lifetime for months so the last thing you want is to get ill.


Unfriendly environment

However, exposure to a new environment, disrupted sleep, stress, lack of moving our bodies, lack of exposure to sunlight or fresh air and coming into contact with a myriad of germs isn’t a recipe for health.

Staying healthy whilst travelling means looking after your health at every opportunity and that’s before you even set foot on the plane.

So first things first is to make sure you are prepared before flying:

Prioritise sleep

Sleep is vital for our immune system with studies showing that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get unwell and a lack of good quality sleep can affect how fast you recover from illness.

Reduce stress

When you are chronically stressed, you become an easy target for colds and viruses.

Eat a light meal

Before flying you should eat meal based on whole protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats to help keep those hunger pangs at bay.

Protein Breakfast from Scitec Nutrition can be a good deal if you are looking for all-in-one substitution for flight meal!
Protein Breakfast from Scitec Nutrition can be a good deal if you are looking for all-in-one substitution for flight meal!

Eat for immunity.

Gut health is essential to good immune health so eating foods that support a healthy gut is important. These include fermented foods, sweet potato, garlic, onions, beans, lentils, chickpeas and asparagus. Choose fresh whole fruits and vegetables for important vitamins and minerals, complex carbohydrates to reduce blood sugar spikes and lean quality protein to help support immunity. Minimise refined carbohydrates and alcohol as these are nutrient-poor.

Take care of your liver

When we fly, we’re exposed to a whole heap of chemicals and this can overload our liver. Increase liver-supportive foods including cruciferous vegetables, grapefruit, beetroot and blueberries prior to travelling.

A week or two before you are due to travel, start or increase your probiotic intake. Choose a probiotic suitable for travel and pack extra just in case you end up with traveller’s tummy.

Keep your immunity tip-top by packing a natural first aid kit

Vitamin A, C, D and zinc have all been found to aid immunity.

Next up. The flight.

Flying is tough on your body. When you get on a plane you expose yourself to unhealthy bacteria and viruses floating around in recycled air. Here are some top tips to make sure you stay healthy during a flight:

  • Stay hydrated. Your body loses water at high altitudes and The Institute of Altitude Medicine recommends drinking an extra 1-1.5 litres of water. Hydrating little and often during a flight is essential. Saliva is part of our body’s defence against bacteria and viruses, flushing the mouth clean and it is a carrier for Immunoglobulin A, which protects our mucous membranes, our first line of defence. Hydrate with electrolytes, limit or avoid alcohol and ask for tomato juice – packed with electrolytes. Your body will thank you for it!
  • Early flight-times can leave you feeling exhausted. Avoid reaching for coffee or sugar by boosting your energy levels with healthy snacks. The fruit is a handy on-the-go snack, but always try to bring protein too to help keep you satiated, such as nuts, seeds, hardboiled eggs and protein powder. Options when travelling can be limited so try and have ready-prepared, healthy snacks on hand.
  • Blue-light blocking glasses can help to get your body into a more natural rhythm by blocking the majority of stimulating blue light emitted from electrical devices, helping you to wind down for sleep.
  • Deep belly breathing is important for the immune system as it circulates lymph and increases oxygen to tissues. Try some meditation exercise during the flight.

With these handy tips, you can stay healthy whilst flying so upon arrival at your destination you are ready to enjoy your trip!

Tags: flight, health and flight

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