Colder temperatures and the spring break season often mean increased travel- and with it, increased stress. Taking care of your body while traveling will ensure that you feel your best when you arrive at your destination.
The Importance of Gut Health
Air travel to your destination can impact your body in multiple ways. First, jet lag can throw off your sleep schedule, which can affect gut health and your body’s ability to fight infection. Second, pressurized airplane cabins and low humidity can cause dehydration. And third, an airplane cabin’s close quarters and recirculated air can introduce microorganisms that are unfamiliar to the ones your body is accustomed to, leaving you more susceptible to your neighbors’ germs.
As your fellow travelers cough or sneeze, as they touch seats and tray tables, “bugs” from different areas of the country or other countries can be introduced into your environment. Interacting with organisms unfamiliar to your body can change the balance of bacteria, known as the microbiome, in your gut.
Protecting your Gut
In addition to exposure to new organisms, you’re likely to try local or unique cuisine at your destination, which can also change the balance of bugs – your microbiome – so being cautious about trying new foods during travel is encouraged. The hectic nature of travel, as well as security measures against carrying liquids during check-in, combined with the dry, pressurized in-flight air can lead to dehydration. However, a powdered hydration supplement like Catalyte® will pass through security and can be used with bottled water to resist dehydration.*
Adding a probiotic supplement that will support your immune system is a good insurance policy during travel and strenuous training.* Research has identified specific strains of good bacteria that can help ward off traveler’s diarrhea, as well as other strains that support your respiratory tract.*
Jet lag – changes to your body’s internal clock – can lead to poor sleep quality and also be a source of stress on the microbiome. Melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating the sleep-and-wake cycle, is needed to help reset your internal clock.* So supplementing with melatonin should be considered.
Although jet lag often bears most of the blame for poor sleep when traveling, science has identified another reason. Called the “first night effect,” it’s an involuntary brain response to sleeping in a new place for the first time, such as a hotel room. The left side of the brain will stay more “awake” than the right side – a trait shared with birds and other mammals – ostensibly to help you be more alert to predators and other dangers in the night! So even though the risk of nighttime predators has ceased, the brain’s response remains.
A research study found that an ingredient in Thorne’s Multi-Vitamin Elite, known as Relora®, had a positive impact on the time to fall asleep in endurance cyclists on the night before a competition.* [link to the study] Athletes who supplemented with Relora® before an endurance road cycling race fell asleep faster and didn’t experience the “first night effect” as much as other cyclists. Relora, an extract from Phellodendron and Magnolia bark, has also been shown in research to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and perceived daily stress.* Thorne’s Relora Plus also combines these botanicals with B vitamins for added stress support.*
Although travel is a necessary part of work, vacations, and holidays, as well as competitions for athletes, having a nutrition plan in place that includes supportive supplements can help you get to your destination feeling healthy, well-rested, and ready to perform your best.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.