5 Natural Ways to Fight Jet Lag

natural ways to fight jet lag
Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, MD

In her day job, treating patients living with chronic disease, nutrition and lifestyle are not after-thoughts, they’re central to helping her patients get well. She’s also our go-to expert on plant-based diets.

Has your jet-setting hit a snag due to jet lag? Let us help.

Jet lag occurs as a result of circadian rhythm dysfunction when crossing time zones—basically, our internal clock gets confused by the differences in your destination’s light-dark cycle. Helping your body adjust to the new cycle marks the resolution of the problem. Here are some natural ways to fight jet lag.

1. Natural Melatonin
The hormone melatonin helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles through exposure to light and darkness. Supporting healthy melatonin production and release is essential to getting jet lag under control. Foods that contain melatonin include olive oil, tomatoes, walnuts, barley, oats, pineapple, bananas, oranges, sweet corn, and cherries.

2. Guzzle Water
Staying hydrated while overcoming jet lag is important, and travel can make it more challenging to imbibe the recommended H2O. During a case of jet lag, your body is already confused enough, don’t add dehydration to the equation. Try infusing water with fruits containing melatonin like oranges and pineapple, and carry your own water container that you can refill easily.

3. Skip Junk Food
We’ve all been there-you’re tired, hungry, cranky, and that cinnamon roll/fast food burger/5 pound ice cream sundae beckons you. Drop the hot dog and run away! These foods will tax your system even more, sending you into wild blood sugar swings, and post-junk comas. Eat whole foods — focus on a protein-filled breakfast, and lots of whole grains at dinner.

4. Don’t Skip Exercise
Studies have shown that people who engage in regular exercise have a quicker adaptation to sleep-wake cycle disturbances. Take advantage of the hotel gym, or just go for a 30-minute walk in your destination city. And if you’re really a go-getter, walk around the airport instead of entering into the terminal sit-a-thon.

5. Power Nap
There is some evidence that a quick 20-minute nap when you need it will help you adjust better to your new time zone. Sleeping only 20 minutes will safeguard against the dreaded post-nap hangover, rife with continued sleepiness, and a bad case of the munchies.

Oh, and one more tip—eat a lot of fiber. Many jet-lag sufferers are plagued with a stalled digestive track. Fiber will keep things moving.

We want you at your best when you travel, so… Bon Voyage!

Sources: National Institutes of Health, Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine-1, Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine-2

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