Is it really possible to beat jet lag?

by Agustin Rojas | Aug 25 2016

Many flights in a short amount of time can mean awful jet lag – it’s a killer, especially if you only have a certain number of days in a place. Long haul flights and a huge time difference to what you were used to before are the worst. It can mean that you don’t enjoy somewhere to it’s full potential because you are too tired to take in all the wonderful sights. I did a bit of research (from looking on the internet and chatting to people on my travels) and I have written a list of tips that you can follow to try and beat jet lag, or at least minimise the impact of it. Some of them may be tricky but the benefits are brilliant, try them out for yourself!

 

Try a pre-flight fast — and pass on the airport restaurants

Many frequent fliers swear by this trick, which is based on the theory that our body clocks temporarily stop when deprived of food and start ticking again when a meal is consumed. The first anti-jet-lag fasting diet was developed in the early 1980s by researchers at the University of Chicago’s Argonne National Laboratory. They found that fasting (eating only light meals) in the three days leading up to the flight and then consuming a high-protein meal at the predetermined “breakfast” time of the destination, left people 16 times less likely to suffer jet lag when travelling west and seven times less likely when travelling east.

More recently, a modified version of the fast came out of research at Harvard University and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. It advocates avoiding food for two hours prior to flying and during the flight (but you must drink water) then eating as soon as possible after you land. “What the studies have in common is the adherence to meal times when you arrive,” Stanley says.

 

Travel with snacks that are high in vitamin C

Sarah Anderson, who runs the Aviation Nutritionist clinic in Harley Street, London, agrees that it is best to avoid big meals before and during a flight. However, she says that there are some foods you can eat to help to reduce the severity of jet lag. Avoid sugar, she says, because the effects of altitude mean that increases in blood-sugar levels after a meal are exacerbated. “Ideally, you want to eat immunity-boosting foods high in vitamin C and zinc, such as kiwi fruit and unsalted cashew nuts.”

 

Drink plenty of water

Compressed cabin air is very dry. The Aerospace Medical Organisation recommends drinking about 225ml of water for every hour in the air. “Avoid alcohol, which will dehydrate you further,” Anderson says. She also suggests a natural anti-jet-lag tablet like 1Above (be1above.com) that contains pine bark, which has effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and is therefore good for boosting immunity while in a high-pressure cabin.

 

Drink Montmorency cherry juice before and during your flight

Professor Glyn Howatson, a researcher at the sport, exercise and rehabilitation department of Northumbria University, discovered that Montmorency cherry juice significantly increases levels of melatonin — the hormone that regulates sleep — in the body, and may help to prevent jet lag. “On long-haul flights crossing more than three or four time zones, I would be inclined to take it just before you fly to promote sleep on the flight, and then when you intend to rest or sleep at the destination take again,” Howatson says. A dose of 30ml of Montmorency cherry concentrate is recommended.

 

Take some morning exercise

Anecdotally, there’s a lot of evidence to support exercise as a fast-track to resetting your body clock. However, specific studies proving any connection are thin on the ground. “Exercise in itself is not going to cure jet lag,” Stanley says. “Use it to reinforce the time zone you are trying to stick to. If it’s light when you arrive, then some gentle activity will aid wakefulness and be beneficial; if it’s getting dark, forget it.” Dalton Wong, the director of Twenty Two Training in west London, agrees. “Getting outside for a run or cycle if you arrive in the daytime can really help to keep you awake,” he says. “But any workout that’s too strenuous at night will disrupt your sleep. Stick to some gentle yoga or stretching in the evening.”

 

Did you try any of these? Do you have your own tips for fighting jet lag or any good ideas of your own that could help people make the most of their travels? Please get in touch through my contact page! Gracias amigo!