As I'm starting this article, I'm currently on the first leg of a multiple-flight business trip - which serves as a nice prompt to share some of my techniques to take care of the body and stay Synchro during extended travel. Put simply, traveling is a weird thing to do to the human body. Being shut inside of metal tubes for long periods of time traveling at high rates of speed is not a natural activity for our body-mind systems. And this comes with certain risks...
Traveling ensures you'll be bombarded with microbes (particularly on airplanes and trains) - which is particularly a concern given that the stress, sleep deprivation and EMF-exposure that often come with traveling are all known to suppress immune function. Particularly if you're flying east, sleep disruption can become a major factor in diminished energy levels and cognitive performance. Finally, EMF-exposure leads to systemic inflammation, metabolic disruption and (again) negatively affected cognitive performance. Employing strategies to build your body's resilience to these threats will ensure you have as enjoyable and productive a trip (and return home) as possible. Here are a few:
1. Prepare Your Immune System - Your immune system is going to be subjected to a gauntlet of viruses and bacteria from all of the other travelers you share spaces with on your trip. Making sure your immune system is functioning at top-level ahead of your travels is the best defense against getting hit with a virus.
- Antioxidants - Antioxidants improve immune function by protecting certain types of immune cells against oxidative damage. Your body's primary endogenous antioxidant, glutathione, is our best immune-protecting antioxidant. You can boost your body's natural production of glutathione by taking moderate-to-high doses of Vitamin C in the days before you travel. Try 2000-4000mg a day for the 2 days before traveling. Food-based antioxidants and detoxifiers like cacao, acai and chlorella will also do a lot to protect immune cells in the days before traveling.
- Sleep - Sleep quality has a HUGE impact on immune functioning, and going into your travels sleep deprived will leave your immune system vulnerable. Be especially diligent with sleep duration and quality in the days before departing. This also keeps stress levels down, which is good for both mental/emotional performance and immune function. (read more on sleep hacking here)
- Avoid Immune-suppressors - Alcohol has a dramatic immune-suppressing effect and should be consumed in careful moderation (or preferably avoided altogether) in the days before travel. Other intoxicants have varying degrees of immune-suppressing activity, but alcohol is far and away the biggest danger here.
2. Reset Your Circadian Sleep Rhythm - This is particularly helpful if you're flying east, where jet lag can seriously disrupt sleep cycles. Our brain releases melatonin at roughly the same time every day to signal to the body to begin the processes associated with sleep (lower body temperature, relaxed breathing). You can help your body reset to the new time zone by taking 1-2mg of melatonin supplement a half-hour before the time you would like to go to sleep. This will greatly improve the speed at which you adjust your sleep cycle to the new time zone. Since sleep is perhaps the biggest determinant of cognitive performance, this is probably the single most effective technique you can use to ensure you're on top of your mental game during your trip. (find melatonin here )
3. "Grounding" On Arrival - Think about the environment of an airplane for a moment. It's a giant steel tube loaded with powerful electronics attached to several uber-powerful engines. Oh, and it flies thirty thousand feet above the earth's surface, which means it is both far from the earth's natural magnetic field *and* far more exposed to electromagnetic radiation originating from the sun. Short of sticking your finger in an electrical socket, it's hard to imagine an environment with more disruptive electromagnetic (EMF) exposure.
EMF exposure is known to increase systemic inflammation and disrupt metabolic and hormonal processes. It also impacts mental and emotional performance and disrupts sleep. (this doesn't even get into the long-term risks of EMF exposure like increased risk of some types of cancer)
Fortunately, our bodies have a built-in mechanism for dealing with EMF exposure. EMF exposure disrupts our bodies by creating a slight positive charge in our body's electrical system. Simply touching your skin to a large object holding a negative charge will slowly equalize the charge of your body. So where do we find such a large, negatively-charged object? How about directly under your feet. Yep, the earth itself is the best grounding object we could ever hope for.
As soon as possible after getting off the airplane or out of the car, find a patch of earth (grass is best) and simply hang out with your shoes off for 10-15 minutes. This will be sufficient time for the earth to disperse the positive charge held by your body as a result of EMF exposure. If this sounds silly to you - you can be forgiven for thinking so - just give this a try next time you're in a car for more than an hour or even at your laptop all day. Go put your bare feet in the grass for 10 minutes, I predict you'll be amazed at how much better you feel afterwards. (read more on EMF's and grounding here)