So you want to fly the healthy “friendly” skies?

There are a number of tricks in the trade that are worth discussing as most of us find ourselves on a plane at one time or another.

The primary rule of thumb is to ALWAYS drink like a fish. No caffeinated, alcoholic or sweet liquids. A 12 oz can or glass of water or sparkling water per hour, will generally suffice to maintain adequate hydration. It’s typical to fly at a cabin pressure of approximately 9000 feet, with some of the newer planes at  5-6000 feet altitude in the cabin.  At this altitude one looses fluids rapidly through evaporative losses.

Unless your the seasoned traveler who takes every inconvenience in stride, you’ve undoubtedly been on edge and found your pulse elevated. This equates to an increased metabolic rate, hence even more fluid losses. Remember that even the typical workable flight is stressful. Think TSA, timing, parking, luggage, your other group members and a host of other concerns.  

Learning to relax is important to saving your health and your sanity. If your not convinced see my article on stress…..

Motion is your friend

While traveling on a plane your chances of developing a blood clot are increased significantly. By getting up and moving regularly you can decrease the potential and will find yourself much more at ease following the flight. You will also do yourself a favor by elevating your legs from the floor with a book, etc. This will relieve the pressure on the back of your thighs. Some travelers might also benefit from the use of aspirin or fish oils to modify the viscosity of your blood. These measures will make the blood less prone to the deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

If you experience a focused pain in your leg or have changes in sensation, seek medical assistance promptly. The wearing of compression socks or hose can be helpful. Some international carriers have the support stockings available. Remember to move and not sit throughout any flight greater than 45 minutes. It’s really about your long term health so again….get up every 45 minutes and walk the aisles, regardless of the inconvenience factor. There are numerous stretching exercises that you can do while seated that also make a very significant difference.

I have found that almost all airports are toxic waste zones, with an abundance of jet fuel fumes and petrochemical vapors wafting everywhere. By ingesting milk thistle extract, prior and after your trip, you might be able to counteract some of the deleterious liver experiences that many chemicals used in an airport induce. Remember the jet fuel is only one of many insults. Consider the cleaning agents used in the glass enclosed and generally recycled air in the waiting areas . Coupled with the numerous cleaning products  used throughout the terminal coupled with perfumes and other “personal” care items and you can only imagine the magnified metabolic insult your enduring. Your body is working hard enough day in day out without this additional burden.

Cleanliness is next to godliness

This is probably one of the best mantras for you to recite during a jaunt throughout the terminal. I don’t know who stated this fact, however when was the last time that your seat or the counter your touching was cleaned ? Consider the waiting area frequented by thousands of passengers per day, as well as your airline seat. Some hygienic defense might be to use the bacterial wipes on the arm rests and the table/tray. Use those that are made using herbal ingredients and not the petrochemical alcohol based versions. You should also ALWAYS wash you hands and face regularly when flying, but not in the aircraft. If you want to be grossed out by the facts…. read the … ecoli in the plane article and get ready to be ill. The water in many aircraft is considered a toxic waste dump site, from the bacterial level of contamination. Yes your parents stressed washing your hands after using the restroom……however this does not apply in aircraft. Use a wipe and make your stay as brief as possible. By washing your hands and face in the restrooms, before boarding, you can decrease your exposure and potentially reduce you potential of catching the cold virus, from the passenger in 14A or worse. Also have you used the wipe on the handle of your carry on ?

As a physician I frequently wonder how many people handle the in flight magazine that the airlines tout. Bring your own !  If only a small percentage sneezed on that page over the next how many flights…. You get the picture. Bring your own reading materials and remember to clean your tablet and other equipment….. ESPECIALLY your phone…… see the article on phone sanitation….

Noise is a drag and you don’t have to suffer.

For $39.00 Brookstone and a host of other retailers sel a noise reduction headsets that makes a HUGE difference. There are so many devices now on the market that really it’s hard to choose the best for the money. In the mean time consider the noise cancelation headset as a necessary part of travel. The device takes the ambient noise and induces a 180 degree out of sync sound. The two cancel out and leave a quiet and reasonable tolerable result. You can plug any of these devices into the sound system and listen to music, as well as converse with others around you. After almost 85K miles of travel with one of the devices I would more than recommend the investment. Even in the newer aircraft the sound level difference is notable.

Timing your trip.

If your able to schedule appropriately, you can make the east to west journey with minimal upset to your internal clock. Consider the use of the Argonne Anti-Jet-Lag Diet to minimize your time change discomfort. This diet was paid for by your tax dollars, developed many years ago for diplomats traveling and not being sharp or able to function quickly in 1982. With the availability of melatonin you can arrange to also sleep during an unusual time and wake up refreshed. You should experiment with the melatonin BEFORE you travel and find the correct dosage. If you awake and find your self groggy, you’ve taken too high a dose. The typical health food store dosage range from .5 mg to 3 mg. Only by experimenting will you find the ideal dose. Lower doses tend to work better and generally I recommend using a 1 mg. dose initially. Additional research has been developed into using a combination of melatonin, to induce sleep, and hydrocortisone to reawaken. JET LAG: Natural hormone can boost travelers’ energy is the title of an interesting and worth reading article regarding this method of chronological control. I would highly suggest that although scientific studies of this combination are valid, you might equally benefit from using a glandular adrenal supplement. At the Center of Health™ we do employ hydrocortisone for a number of therapeutic applications and other botanical well researched means of making the travel experience much more enjoyable. Remember to always consider your current medications and supplements when adding any additional medications.

The Argonne Anti-Jet-Lag Diet is one means of helping travelers quickly adjust their bodies’ internal clocks to new time zones. It is also being used to speed the adjustment of shift workers, such as power plant operators, to periodically rotating work hours. The diet was developed by Dr. Charles F. Ehret of Argonne’s Division of Biological and Medical Research as an application of his fundamental studies of the daily biological rhythms of animals. Argonne National Laboratory is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s major centers of research in energy and the fundamental sciences. Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Argonne, Illinois 60439 *U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 1984-754-904

The Argonne Anti-Jet-Lag Diet: How to avoid jet lag

1. DETERMINE BREAKFAST TIME At your destination for the day of arrival.

2. FEAST-FAST-FEAST-FAST on home time. Start three days before departure day.
On day one, FEAST; eat heartily with high-protein breakfast and lunch and a high-carbohydrate dinner. No coffee except between 2 and 5 p.m. On day two, FAST on light meals of salads, light soups, fruits and juices. Again, no coffee except between 3 and 5 p.m. On day three, FEAST again.
On day four, departure day, FAST; if you drink caffeinated beverages, take them in the morning when traveling west, or between 6 and 11 p.m. when traveling east. Going west, you may fast only half day.

3. BREAK FINAL FAST at destination breakfast time. No alcohol on plane. If flight is long enough, sleep until normal breakfast time at destination, *but no later*. Wake up and FEAST on high-protein breakfast. Stay awake, active. Continue day’s meals according to meal times at destination. FEAST on high-protein breakfasts and lunches to stimulate the body’s active cycle. Suitable meals include steak, eggs, hamburgers, high-protein cereals, green beans. FEAST on high-carbohydrate suppers to stimulate sleep. They include spaghetti and other pasta (but no meatballs), crepes (but no meat filling), potatoes, other starchy vegetables, and sweet desserts. FAST days help deplete the liver’s store of carbohydrates and prepare the body’s clock for resetting. Suitable foods include fruit, light soups, broths, skimpy salads, unbuttered toast, half pieces of bread. Keep calories and carbohydrates to a minimum.

COUNTDOWN
ON HOME TIME: day 1 FEAST day 2 FAST day 3 FEAST day 4 FAST
Breakfast FEAST protein grapefruit FEAST protein grapefruit
Lunch FEAST protein apple FEAST protein apple
Supper FEAST carbo broth FEAST carbo broth

Coffee, tea, cola, other caffeinated beverages allowed only between 3 and 5 p.m.

BREAK FINAL FAST Westbound: If you drink caffeinated beverages, take them the morning before departure. Eastbound: take them between 6 and 11 p.m. If flight is long enough, sleep until your destination breakfast time. Wake up and FEAST, beginning with a high-protein breakfast. Lights on. Stay awake and active.

This diet developed in the 1980’s was for slightly slower travel speeds however it’s basis remains appropriate. We use a number of modifications to this approach to maximize it’s effectiveness. Please inquire when your ready to travel.

Helpful Items:
An overview of a good set of helpful measures and  agents to carry with you on any trip should include:

A calmative…What do you mean your luggage is in Lithuania ?? There are so many options that please talk to us before choosing an option.
Classic combinations include: Valerian Root, Hops, Kava, and 5HTP. At the Center of Health™ we use a product called 303’s that seems very cost effective and works well. We have worked with pet products as well, so ask if your traveling with fido.

A muscle relaxant/anti-inflammatant…That 14 hour flight will cramp your muscles, despite your best efforts at gymnastics in the plane and put you at risk for a deep vein thrombosis….not a comforting thought. 

A headache potion…you can name the ways
Feverfew or petadolex should be considered, along with aspirin and don’t forget the obvious….. adequate hydration….and whatever you do NOT TAKE ACETAMINOPHEN when traveling ! Remember it will decrease your antioxidant abilities…. when you need them the most.

An cervical pillow support…the masochist who designed the seats is nicknamed the cervical contortionist ! I find that the pillows ones filled with other items…that can be cleaned via the high heat of a dryer….. beat the inflatables hands down. Obviously one made with natural fibers is a much better choose especially since your breathing the outgassing only inches from your nose.

To avoid the missing or late luggage disasters, always pack a set of underclothes, toothbrush and toiletries, along with one nights emergency change of clothes in your carry on. And don’t forget a charger for the phone……The decrease in stress is worth the small hassle factor. 

Better airline seats….Great airline seats are an oxymoron assuming your not flying first class. Yes there is a difference of ~5″ on a number of classes of airline seats but overall you’re the sardine in the tin can. There are however a number of tricks to maximize your comfort by trying to get a better seat. This is defined as one that has the ability to either see, have more legroom or a smoother ride. The U-tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXhy6QZZJbw&feature=channel is an appropriate well-done piece on this subject. 

When you traveling with assistive devices… Some of our patients have the need for a wheelchair, walker or a cane. A little preparation before flight will make travel easier. Make certain at the time of ticketing you indicate the need for your devices. We found that it generally is easier to work with your own devices that fit you personally and you know well.

Luggage considerations…. Lighter is better. A good sturdy easy to roll piece of luggage can be a delight, save your back and neck from the torque of lugging a heavy item and last for years. There are bargains to be had on line and at stores like TJ Max and Ross. There are so many travel sites reviewing new and innovative luggage selections on the net it’s hard to choose. Also for those of you who feel like travel is in your blood, consider a travel store for some of the more rugged lifetime tested products. A group I do recommend is a small but excellent resource with a monthly update from, Travel Essentials. 

The airlines have become more conscious of the weight issues and a hand held digital scale can save you from the dreaded extra charges.  As with all other travel, leave the jewelry and expensive electronics at home.  A carry-on with your essentials is a great way to avoid the lost or delayed bag problem. A change of clothing and some toiletries along with any expensive gear should be adequate to make travel easier. As a simple tip, to avoid the dreaded TSA inquisition make certain to carefully wrap all the electrical chords and keep the electronic gear in a neat and orderly fashion. The inspections are quicker and less of a problem to repack your bag should you be personally “inspected”.

Remember you have rights if they are violated you can contact, the Department of transportation at their website: http://airconsumer.dot.gov/publications/flyrights.htm or an excellent consumer rights group Flyersright.org can be reached via two numbers: If you’re having an IMMEDIATE problem, call their Emergency Hotline: (877) FLYERS6 (359-3776)   If you’re an airline employee or whistleblower, please call their Anonymous Tipline., (877) 887-2678  Your anonymity will be protected.

I trust that this  information will make your flight somewhat more bearable and even enjoyable. Keep tunes to updates on our articles as new  info is always being added.