5 Natural Ways to Stay Healthy on Your Flight
Summer’s almost here and the time is right for dancing in the streets of faraway places. But nothing brings a vacation to a screaming halt faster than coming down with a bug you picked up on the plane. The key to avoid contracting and illness in flight is twofold: stay away from germs and boost your immune system.
Airline crews have just a few minutes between flights to prepare the cabin for the next round of passengers. They are looking for visible messes first, and rarely have time to go for the invisible world of bacterial colonization. Contrary to popular belief, stale air in the plane isn’t the biggest culprit in spreading disease. Most germs aren’t airborne, but spread through actual contact with an infected person’s skin or bodily fluids.
By now you might have heard that your tray table is the dirtiest place on the plane. Avoid them, cover them, or better yet, wipe them down with disinfectant wipes before using. Restrooms are an obvious place to take all the usual precautions. Where you sit can matter. Aisle seats offer the most exposure to infectious disease as they are the most touched by sick passengers as the head up and down the aisles on their way to the restrooms. You are also in the direct line of fire when roaming passengers sneeze or cough.
No matter how diligently we reduce our exposure to germs, jurisprudence dictates that we have a back-up plan. Doing everything we can to remain impenetrable to these microscopic warriors is our best shot at surviving our trip—and the reentry—in vibrant health.
Here are 5 natural ways to stay healthy on your flight:
- Hydrate Like Mad
Flying is dehydrating. When our mucus membranes dry out, they become much more susceptible to infection. A dehydrated body is less capable of flushing out toxins. Start pounding water in the days before you flight and continue in the days after. Avoid drinking coffee, alcohol, and decongestants, as they are all dehydrating too. Drink only bottled water on the plane, as the onboard tanks are not regulated for frequency of cleaning or testing for microorganisms.
- Go Green
Adding a few drops of liquid chlorophyll to your water bottle is a great way to boost your immune system. Chlorophyll stimulates the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells, which fight disease. It also reduces the acidity in the body, creating an alkaline environment, which inhibits the growth of bacteria and viruses. Chlorophyll also has anti-inflammatory properties. When a part of our body is inflamed, it is more susceptible to disease. And if you are travelling to a destination at high-altitude, chlorophyll is wonderful for combatting altitude sickness.
- Hard Day’s Night
The days leading up to a trip can be chaotic. Preparing ourselves for a trip and the people close to us for our absence can be overwhelming. Stress and sleep deprivation are immune killers. Do whatever it takes to ensure you’ve had a good night’s sleep when you board your flight. Take time to pack early, even if it means you do it gradually in the week before your departure. Make a list of things so that you don’t exhaust yourself trying to remember everything. Take a deep breath and remember that everything and everyone will survive without you. When crossing time zones, a surefire way to counteract jetlag is to do some long shoulder stands once you’ve reached your destination. In yoga they are called, Salamba Sarvangasana, and they increase the oxygen level in your blood by getting the breath way deep into the lower part of your lungs.
- Smart Snacks
A diet rich in antioxidants is known to support the immune system. In addition to providing direct nutrition to support your travelling body, bringing your own snack discourages you from indulging in unhealthy snacks at the airport and on the plane. Fill your carry-on with snack-size containers of walnuts, berries, dark chocolate, dried goji berries, apples (particularly Granny Smith and Red Delicious varieties).
- Move Your Body
Exercise (even moderate) before, during, and after your flight will benefit you in many ways. Exercise increases the flow of blood and oxygen through the body, which is believed to help flush out toxins and bacteria. Exercise is also shown to boost white blood cell production so that the body can fight of infection more effectively. Body temperature rises slightly during and after exercise which may help the body fight infection, similar to a fever. It also produces anti-stress hormones which boost immunity. Of course the amount of exercise you can get during the flight is minimal, but making sure to get out of your seat a few times during the flight and walk up and down the aisle will get your blood flowing and help prevent blood clots from forming.