Be flight-smart this holiday season!

This article is especially dedicated to my patients who fly into Hong Kong for the day just to come see me. Your commitment to your health is commendable and I am honoured to be a part of your journey toward better health.  

Traveling this holiday season? Or just a frequent flyer? The following tips will help you stay healthy while you fly:

1) Keep hydrated by drinking adequate amounts of water. Minimize caffeinated or alcoholic beverages as they are dehydrating.

2) Airline “snack boxes” available on shorter flights are usually high in fat and/or sodium and filled with refined carbohydrates. Try to eat a healthier meal before a short flight to avoid hunger on the plane. If you do get hungry, check out #3. Remember to keep hydrated.

3) Natural nutrition bars are good alternatives to the the salted pretzel/ nut assortments offered in-flight. One of my favourite snack bars is the all natural gluten-free LARA BAR. Or, you can bring your own fruit and (unsalted) nut mix for an energy boost and healthy snack alternative.   

4) For long-haul flights, noodle soup cups are very popular “mini-meals”. Unfortunately, these are laden with MSG and other additives, and carry next-to-zero nutritional value. Usually, flights will offer a veggie sandwich alternative which is a healthier choice. If you must have the noodle soup cups, try to avoid the high-sodium and high-MSG broth.

5) Wear loose clothing and stretch regularly. Stretch your legs/ feet and get up for regular walks to reduce the risk of forming blood clots.  

6) It may be wise to stock up on antioxidant supplements, glutathione in particular. Glutathione is a vital antioxidant involved in protecting the body from free radical damage and helps to “recycle” other important antioxidants. Flying exposes us to more radiation (long-term exposure of which could increase risk of cancers and degenerative diseases) as we are at a higher altitude. A paper from the American Journal of Epidemiology found a higher incidence of acute myeloid leukemia among 2740 Air Canada pilots compared with the general population. The paper concluded that “monitoring of in-flight radiation exposure and long-term follow-up of civil aviation crew members is needed to further assess cancer incidence and leukemia risk in this special occupational group” (Am J Epidemiol 1996;143:137–43). Reduce the harmful effects of radiation (and stress!) while flying by ensuring adequate antioxidant support. If you fly frequently, discuss with your naturopathic doctor how to ensure optimal health while up in the air.

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