Working in Singapore often means frequent visits to Changi Airport for many executives. Unfortunately this constant air travel and time zone hopping can have a detrimental effect on our health. Apart from the dreaded jet lag, frequent flyers often complain of gastrointestinal issues, low energy, and low immunity. This is when careful nutrition planning comes into its own to ensure that you can perform at your optimal level in your destination.
Why does air travel have such a huge impact on our health?
Flight passengers are exposed to 100 times more air radiation exposure than on the ground leading to increased DNA damage.
The cabin, devoid of moisture, may increase your vulnerability to airborne infection. Colds and viruses thrive in conditions of low humidity.
Stomach ache? The air pressure can also cause a build-up of gas which can lead to bloating and constipation.
1/3 of all your taste buds are redundant at high altitude and our umami taste buds take over. Sugar and salt are added to cabin meals to taste better. Increased sodium leads to further dehydration and bloating.
Poor sleep. Having just 1.5 hours less sleep a night can reduce alertness by about one-third. A lack of sleep impairs memory and decision making and performance.
What can you do to ensure peak performance on arrival? Here are The Nourished Tribe’s top 7 tips:
1.Eat before you get on the plane or grab a take out to have on board.
Tempting as it is to have the free meal onboard, or to have a bit of a blow out in the airport lounge, it will not do you any favours. When making your food selection, look for a well-balanced meal of protein, slow releasing carbohydrates, and vegetables for an anti-oxidant boost. Our healthy picks in Changi Airport include: Pho St (T2), Pret a Manger (T3), Sakae Sushi (T1), Stuff’d (T2) and Sushi Goshi (T4).
Often we eat due to boredom and no more so than when we are in the air. If you think you may get hungry on board take some additional snacks on such as nuts and seeds or smoothie sachets. We recommend Nuzest Just Fruit & Veg Sachets to keep you feeling satiated until you arrive at your destination.
3.Skip the drinks trolley.
As tempting as it is to have the in-flight nightcap, give it a swerve. Drinking alcohol increases adenosine, a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain, helping us to get to sleep quicker. Unfortunately, this is short lived and adenosine subsides as quickly as it came, causing you to wake up.
Always take extra water on board and avoid the tea and coffee. In a three hour flight you can lose approximately 1.5 litres of water. To counteract this on long haul flights consider taking electrolyte tablets or coconut water to aid with balancing the body’s natural salt balance and decrease urine and nutrient loss.
5.Try and stick to the mealtimes of your destination time zone.
Meal Timings can help synchronise our internal clocks that control rhythms of blood sugar concentration. This could mean missing out a meal altogether or asking cabin crew to eat at a different time so you are eating in the new time zone.
On an overnight flight fasting and eating breakfast in the new time zone has been shown to aid with jet lag. If you are prone to gastrointestinal issues fasting may also be of benefit. Studies carried out on cabin crew illustrated that the reduced air pressure was correlated with the slowing of gastric motility and delays with the decrease in air pressure, there is an associated slowing of gastric motility. Fasting allows the gut to be relieved of its duties.
7.Up your Nutrient status.
Taking a Vitamin C supplement may come in handy when flying to counteract the DNA damage and radiation. It may also be prudent to get your Vitamin D levels checked by a qualified practitioner to see if supplementation is necessary. Vitamin D is crucial for our immune system functioning. Ensuring that your immune system is firing on all cylinders will give the best protection against airborne germs.