Who doesn’t love exploring new countries and creating memories with their favorite travel buddies? Whether taking a plane, train or automobile, traveling can take a toll on one’s energy level, immune system and workout routines. Suggest these six tips to help your customers stay on track during wanderlust adventures this travel season.
1. Stay hydrated
It can be difficult to stay hydrated while traveling, especially if you are trying to avoid making multiple pit stops during a road trip or have to adhere to the stringent liquid restrictions set at airports for flying.
Water is an essential nutrient required for life; it is the most abundant compound in the human body. The human body is more than 60 percent water. Blood is 92 percent water, the brain and muscles are 75 percent water, body fat is about 10 percent water and bones are roughly 22 percent water. All biochemical reactions occur in water and acts as an active participant in all bodily functions. Water is constantly moving throughout your cells and blood, and about 4 to 10 percent of your body water gets replaced every day with fresh water.
While water is one of the best solutions to keep dehydration at bay, certain foods can hydrate you as well. Some foods with high water content include oatmeal, bananas and coconut. Feel free to eat these before you travel or bring them as snacks to keep on standby. You can also get yourself a reusable water bottle that you can quickly throw into your carry-on bag. Try to find a water bottle with a built in water filter so that you can fill up anywhere while on-the-go, and keep some effervescent vitamin packets that you can mix into water to add flavor and immune boosting nutrients!
2. Make time for fitness
Taking a break from your daily routine can be a great perk of traveling, but don’t shy too far away from all of your healthy habits like working out. You may not have access to a full gym to stay on track while traveling. An alternative is to bring easy-to-pack fitness accessories like resistance bands and yoga mats, or make the most of your surroundings. Use long walks as an opportunity to see new sights and burn a few extra calories at the same time. If your destination includes some beautiful beaches, utilize the ocean to try new sports like body surfing and stand up paddle boarding. While on the beach, you can do pushups, body weight squats and jumping jacks.
3. Eat smarter
Stock up on healthy snacks before you leave for your trip. You will be less tempted at the airport to give in to the not so healthy fast food snack options. Being prepared with snacks on hand during your trip can help keep you on track while going on excursions and outings. For your travel day, you can bring some fresh fruit with you such as apples and bananas, or you can even make your own trail mix made of mixed nuts, seeds, coconut flakes and dark chocolate. Pack some solid snacks for your trip as well, including energy and protein bars, organic beef jerky and nut butter packets.
While nuts and dried fruit seem like an obvious healthy snack, chances are, you aren’t buying plain, unsweetened versions of trail mix. Many store-bought brands have added sugars, oils, salts and even artificial flavoring and colors that can add on hundreds of calories. If you aren’t careful with your portion control, a small handful can easily contain 300-plus calories. Make your own homemade trail mix with plain unsalted nuts, unsweetened dried fruits and even some dark chocolate chips or coconut flakes. You can control the quality of ingredients, as well as the calories you are consuming.
Meditation is something that can be worked into everyone’s already hectic travel schedule, which will help calm the mind, body and spirit. You don’t need to be a professional yogi to find several minutes each day (even squeeze in a few poses while you’re waiting to board your plane) to work on some deep breaths and get in some stretching. Meditation can reduce cortisol (our main stress hormone) levels by 47 percent and can increase DHEA (precursor to anabolic or muscle building hormones) levels by 90 percent. Meditation has also been linked to a 300 percent increase in melatonin levels.
Meditating can turn on our disease fighting genes and boost immunity by reducing the amount of stress hormones released and activating the parasympathetic nervous system (which increases our immune system functioning, reduces blood pressure, decreases our heart rate, increases oxygen flow and enable our rest and digest bodily functions).
5. Balance your hormones
When we get stressed (real or perceived) we can become inflamed (your body’s natural protective mechanism) and chronic inflammation leads to hormonal disruption. In order to balance these hormones, we need to look at regulating our HPA axis, or hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, which essentially regulates all hormones in the body and is often referred to as the thermostat of the body. When we are stressed the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, which sends a message to adrenal medulla, which then puts out adrenaline (as well as other fight or flight hormones), which next tells the hypothalamus to put out CRH. This tells the pituitary gland to put out ACTH, which finally results in adrenal cortex releasing cortisol (trust me it’s a vicious cycle). This goes on and on until either you manage your stress levels, balance your cortisol levels or find some way to make both of these things occur simultaneously.
Stress is any influence, internal or external, that causes or leads to malfunction and can include eating inflammatory foods, consuming alcohol, not sleeping enough or just being generally stressed out. Think about it—you’re running late for your plane, you just paid $20 for an underwhelming salad, you’ve been up since 4 a.m. so you don’t miss your flight and you likely are anxious to get to your next destination … those are all forms of stress! Distress of any kind can contribute to loss of homeostasis, metabolic chaos and hormonal dysfunction.
Try adding some adaptogenic herbs into your travel supplement routine. An adaptogen is classified as a natural substance that helps your body, you guessed right, adapt to stress (whether perceived or real). Ashwagandha, holy basil, rhodiola, schizandra and maca root are popular adaptogens, which can be used to support energy production, hormone balance, immune health and enhance adrenal and thyroid gland health.
6. Stock up on supplements
Traveling can take even the most hardcore health enthusiast off track for a bit when it comes to keeping up with all of their health and fitness goals. Let’s face it, if you’re out of sync with your normal routine and you’re eating different foods, your workout regimen will more than likely take a backseat. You might even sacrifice some sleep for the sake of making amazing memories. Pack yourself an emergency supplement kit that includes some shelf-stable probiotics, digestive enzymes, vitamin C and ginger root to help keep your digestive system, immune system and energy levels on point throughout your entire trip!
Brianna Diorio is a clinical nutritionist with an MS in human nutrition. She is also a holistic lifestyle coach and NASM CPT. Diorio advocates a holistic and naturopathic approach toward health and wellness, placing importance on proper digestive health, gluten-free living, herbal supplementation and using food as functional medicine as information for our cells. She is the director of training and education at Vitamer Laboratories in Irvine, CA.