Holiday Travel Health
TRAVEL RX: STAYING HEALTHY DURING HOLIDAY TRAVEL
The holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends, celebrate life, to be grateful, and reflect on what is most important. The Holiday season is also a time to appreciate the gift of health.
Holiday parties, work events, family dinners and travel are sure to tax even the strongest immune system. Here are some holiday tips to support your efforts for health and prosperity this season.
There are four main issues we will cover in this post related to the Holiday season and staying healthy:
1. Jet lag & How to Support the Immune/Defense system
3. Digestive issues and Dietary concerns during the Holiday
4. Preventing Colds and Virus
Jet Lag & Immune/Defense System
In Chinese Medicine the first line of defense for the human system is associated the Wei and Ying Qi. In addition to our immune or defense system, humans have biological rhythms, known as circadian rhythms, which are controlled by a biological clock, daily routines and exposure to light and dark. These affect body temperature, alertness, appetite, hormone secretion, and many other diseases.
Recently, Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young were joint winners of the 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology medicine, winning for their discoveries about how internal clocks and biological rhythms govern human life.
This year's Nobel laureates isolated a gene that controls normal daily biological rhythms. They identified a gene that encodes a protein that accumulates in the cell during the night, and then deteriorates during the day. They also identified other proteins and how the mechanism governing the self-sustaining clock works inside the cells of organs in the body. This is a concept that Chinese medicine has recognized and recorded more than 2000 years ago by assigning organs with specific time clocks and associating those organs with patterns of disharmony.
Jet lag or desynchronosis, results from the disruption of circadian rhythms when we travel across multiple time zones. Your rhythms are “out of sync” with the new time zone, which can result in sleep problems, fatigue, difficulty focusing, appetite/digestion issues and irritability. The body will naturally realign with the change, but this generally takes time (1 day per hour is often suggested), which makes short trips over long distances especially challenging.
Jet lag tips:
- Chinese medicine’s focus on rebalancing Qi can speed up the process of recovery. Acupuncture is effective in reestablishing your body’s balance and decreasing symptoms. Schedule appointments before traveling, and it is recommended that you seek treatment soon after arrival home. Herbal remedies can also help to ease travel maladies based on your body’s condition and symptoms.
• Attempt to reset your schedule to the new time zone. Avoid napping and expose yourself to the natural light so your body can begin to reset. When fatigue strikes during the day, try to visit a gym, take a yoga class or simply go for a walk. Avoid the urge to sleep.
• Eat small, light meals. You may feel hungry at your usual meal times. Heavy meals may cause digestion problems and disrupt your body’s adjustment. Use caution with alcohol consumption (especially on flights where it can increase dehydration) and don’t overdo caffeine, especially late in the day.
Stress is something everyone can relate to over the holiday season. Whether its making sure you keep social commitments or catching flights on time. Managing stress can help ensure your holidays are enjoyable and most of all RESTFUL!
The holidays do not need to take a toll on your health and pocketbook. Keep your commitments and spending in check. Balance work, home, and play. Get support from family and friends. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook. Make sure to get proper sleep. Good sleep habits (sometimes referred to as “sleep hygiene”) can help you get a good night’s sleep.
Some habits that can improve your sleep health:
• Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends
• Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
• Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom
• Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
• Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
Digestive & Dietary Concerns around the Holiday
Many of us are all too familiar with experiences of constipation, indigestion or upset stomach when traveling, due to jet lag, stress, and unfamiliar foods and eating patterns.
Take preventative measures by practicing food safety precautions (bottled water, well-cooked foods, good hand washing and checking the environment of where you eat). We know it’s a holiday, but refrain from drastic diet changes or too much overindulging.
A good probiotic will help to aid in keeping your immune system strong and healthy and will also ensure the intestinal tract has the proper flora to aid in elimination.
Colds and Virus Prevention
The strain of travel and close proximity to crowds of strangers makes us more susceptible to viruses when traveling. There are many excellent herbal remedies for common maladies, check in with your local Acupuncture Physician for specific recommendations. If you begin to take a herbal supplement when you first feel symptoms, you can often avoid a prolonged illness. Be sure to check with your physician to ensure these herbal remedies are right for you and are not contraindicated for your specific case.
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water, and rub them together for at least 20 seconds. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands. Hydrate, Hydrate, hydrate! Keep up your health, comfort and immune system by drinking water. Drinking water and taking a multivitamin can do wonders for your immune system and digestion. Staying hydrated may also help you avoid holiday overeating, a healthy goal for this time of year.
Wishing you the best for the holiday season and the coming 2018 year!
JESSE JORY, L.AC