WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 03: A person crosses the street during a snowstorm on January 3, 2022 in … [+]
As it gets colder people go on snowy getaways or make an escape for warmer destinations. The change in climates compounded with it generally being the time of year when people get sick, can put a lot of people out of commission during or after a trip. To avoid this common scenario for many travelers, we interviewed Taylor Fazio, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietician and wellness advisor at The Lanby. The Lanby is a membership-based wellness and health destination designed to replace your current primary care.
Winter is a popular time for travel, what are some common health issues you see during that time?
Taylor Fazio: Winter is cold and flu season. Adding travel into the equation can mean a decline to immune health. Airports, airplanes, and other forms of mass transit can be breeding grounds for flu-like illnesses. On top of that the winter holiday season is a potentially stressful time of year with multiple obligations and shifted routines, which increases susceptibility of getting sick.
At The Lanby we like to support our frequent flyers in a few ways. First, consider some immune boosting supplements daily like vitamin D and vitamin C. Studies show suboptimal vitamin D levels are a risk factor for decreased immune function. Secondly, I like to ensure members take a few of their healthy habits on the road, specifically eating nutrient-dense foods and prioritizing movement, as feasible. This doesn’t mean traveling to a fun, new location and not dining on the local cuisine, but rather weaving in a few of your typical habits into your days.
Breakfast is usually the best opportunity to start the day off right by hydrating super well, eating a protein and fiber-rich meal. Consider walking or biking to destinations over taking taxis or transit. Game plan a local grocery store and pick a few items to store in the hotel room’s mini fridge. Good options include: Atlas Bars, hard-boiled eggs, hummus and chopped veggies, raw nuts, fruits like apples and oranges and almond butter packets.
Third, sleep is the biggest opportunity to repair, restore, and bolster the immune system. Make sure to get proper sleep while traveling and routinely in day-to-day life.
How can people prepare to stay healthy before and after winter travel?
Your health is as strong as your routines. Day-to-day make sure to prioritize your health from the ground up: optimizing sleep, quality nutrition, stress-management, and daily activity.
Getting a baseline understanding of your health allows you to shift habits proactively as needed. Getting bloodwork is a great way to “peek under the hood” and see how your body is functioning. We often have new members at the Lanby that either have never done extensive labs or have never had labs fully explained to them before. We have dedicated meetings with members to address anything outside of optimal ranges on bloodwork and provide personalized recommendations on how to improve these values.
What are essentials that people should bring on a trip?
Think ahead: depending on how long the trip is, we like to work with our members to ensure they have enough medication for their entire stay. Allergies in different areas can flare up known environmental allergies, we like OTC options like NeilMed Sinus rinse and keeping consistent with routine supplements. We love this pill case to organize supplements and pack a proper supply for traveling.
We encourage our members to pack a travel kit:
– Nourishing meal to take with you (trust me any sweetgreen order is going to be cheaper and way healthier than you will find in any terminal),
– Herbal teas to sip on the plane: planes are severely dehydrating. Teas are a great way to replenish.
– A few individual packets of your favorite protein. These can be mixed with hot water on the plane for a satisfying protein drink or mixed into a chilled non-dairy milk.
– Download a ten minute meditation for in-flight (I personally love the Waking Uppp app). For flights over three hours, there is nothing but time and it’s a great opportunity to relax after the inevitable anxiety of getting to the airport and through airport check in.
– Pack a resistance band and a jump rope. Hotel amenities aren’t always as described. This gear doesn’t take up much room in your luggage and can be used in a quick ten-minute circuit workout in your room. Plus, it makes the workout convenient, which is key when traveling.
– Bring magnesium. Circadian shifts will alter our gastrointestinal regularity. I recommend taking 200-600 mg magnesium at night and drinking plenty of water throughout the day to stay regular on the road. Please discuss with your healthcare provider before adding any new supplements to your routine.
What recommendations do you have for people dealing with jetlag?
Crossing time zones throws off our circadian rhythm (24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock). No matter which direction you’re flying, try to acclimate to the local timezone as quickly as possible. This could mean strategically picking a flight time that you can sleep on or leveraging caffeine and sunlight to stay awake in order to fall asleep at the proper bedtime at your destination.
Our circadian rhythm is influenced by habits such as meal timing, natural light exposure, stress, and more. Leveraging these to your advantage to get your body back on track is key when arriving or returning from a long trip. Get natural light when you wake up, avoid meals too close to bedtime, aim to limit or avoid caffeine in the afternoon, and manage stress to reduce overall cortisol circulation later in the day which can affect sleep.
The TimeShifter app is a great tool to use. The app provides recommendations depending on the timezone change to align yourself as easily as possible.
What are some other ways to get back on track health-wise?
Keep it simple. We get bombarded with health “hacks” and endless tips and tricks, but health really doesn’t need to be complicated. To get back on track remember the basics: good nutrition, prioritizing seven to nine hours of sleep, managing-stress, and getting consistent movement.
Balance meals with protein, healthy fats, and fiber that fuel your body with nutrients and give you energy.
Get intermittent movement through the day like walking, taking the stairs, stretching, to keep overall high activity level.
Limit stress-inducing habits like excessive screen-time or not prioritizing sleep. We encourage our patients to approach stress management holistically through multiple modalities that may fit best such as talk therapy, social connection, meditation, mindful movement, time in nature, breathwork, etc.
When everything else feels out of alignment, take a pause and get grounded through a meditation, breath-work, or moment to yourself. The stillness in a grounding moment can allow you to become present and assess what you really need to prioritize.
At The Lanby you encourage your members to come in preventatively. What’s a good schedule for a frequent traveler to check in with their primary care physician?
At The Lanby we like to see members far before an issue arises. For frequent travelers it is good to check in at least every three to four months to do a “systems check” with the team. Our lead physician can assess anything clinically relevant and the Wellness Advisor looks over daily lifestyle and dietary habits. Ideally while traveling we want our members to be in good health.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort