The Way to BE

Could Air Travel Trigger an Autoimmune Response? 4 Tips to Protect Your Health

Products that may interest you:

  • InnergyBiotic 750mL

    InnergyBiotic 750mL

    A Delicious and Refreshing Source of Probiotics

    • Helps maintain a healthy balance of microflora in the digestive tract
    • Helps boost your energy
    • Helps maintain healthy digestion

You may have noticed that travel, particularly on a plane and across time zones, can stress the immune system and weaken your defenses against the common cold or flu.

What you may not have known is that air travel can also deprive the body of oxygen. And this can happen in the most unlikely of places—in the gastrointestinal tract.


Boosting good bacteria in the gut with a probiotic beverage like InnergyBiotic can buffer a potential autoimmune response brought on by air travel — especially important for those with Crohn's disease.

Those with Crohn’s disease are affected more than anyone else by air travel.

At the 2012 Digestive Disease Week conference in San Diego, scientists revealed that people struggling with inflammation in the gut may be at a higher risk for inflammatory flare-ups when they fly.

Gastrointestinal Flare-Ups May Be Associated with Air Travel

Researchers in Switzerland observed 103 individuals over the course of 30 days. Of this pool, 52 people experienced gastrointestinal flare-ups, and 51 people were in what is called remission.1

Remission is a term used in medicine to describe when symptoms of a disease have disappeared, even though the disease itself has not been cured. Cancer and autoimmune disorders can go into remission.

A flare-up is a word used to describe when a disease process is active and symptoms of the disease are at their worst.

According to this study, those with more air miles or those who frequently traveled to altitudes higher than 6,500 feet were more likely to experience a flare-up in symptoms.

While scientists decided that it is too soon to draw any conclusions about the effects of air travel on inflammatory gut disorders, there is enough of a correlation to raise eyebrows and prompt further investigation.

4 Ways to Cope When You Need to Fly

So many people are affected by some degree of inflammation in the gut. While flying may provoke an inflammatory response, it would be unreasonable to suggest that people eliminate air travel altogether.

If you suffer from any form of inflammation in the gut, you can optimize your gut health by following these easy steps while flying:

  1. Choose Cultured Foods!

When it comes to the gut, this study shows that those with Crohn’s disease are affected more than anyone else by air travel.

Crohn’s disease is categorized as an autoimmune disorder. This means the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells of gastrointestinal tract. Like other inflammatory disorders of the gut, Crohn’s disease involves an immune system that lacks balance. More recent research also suggests that the inner ecology of those with Crohn’s is radically unhealthy.2,3

This is one very good reason to support beneficial bacteria in the gut. We do this every time we eat a side of cultured vegetables or drink a few ounces of a probiotic beverage like InnergyBiotic.

  1. Make Sure Your Cells Get Oxygen

Hypoxia (when the body is starved of oxygen) promotes inflammation.

Before you travel, find an herbalist or naturopathic physician that will design a formula for you that specifically supports the blood and its movement. This is because blood is what delivers oxygen to the body.

An herb called dong quai, found in Body Ecology’s Dong Quai probiotic beverage, is known as one of the most important blood tonics in Chinese medicine. It supports the production of blood in the body. It is known to help move blood and circulate oxygen throughout tissue; it also contains vitamin B12.

Two western herbs that help to promote blood circulation are:

  • Feverfew
  • Butcher’s broom
  1. Keep a Stash of Digestive Enzymes

Enzymes are essential to the digestive process. Like beneficial bacteria, enzymes help to break food down into smaller pieces so that the body can use it.

When it comes to inflammatory disorders of the gut, brush border enzymes are what suffer the most. Brush border enzymes are also what can help to heal inflamed and destroyed tissue.

These are enzymes like:

  • Amylase
  • Cellulase
  • Invertase (Sucrase)
  • Peptidase
  • Malt Diastase (Maltase)

When the tissue of the intestinal wall is damaged from hypoxia and inflammation, it simply does not have the energy or raw materials to supply these crucial brush border enzymes as found in Assist Full Spectrum enzymes.

We can eat the best food—all organic, local, and sustainable—but if we do not have the enzymes to digest this food, we are still undernourished.

  1. Rebuild with L-Glutamine

The cells of the small intestine use an amino acid called L-glutamine for fuel.

Research has found that L-glutamine actually supports the growth and repair of these cells, which are often damaged in those who have Crohn’s disease or even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). L-glutamine is literally food for the cells of the small intestine!

Bone broth contains these nutrients that can help to rebuild the gut barrier.

If bone broth is not convenient or practical while traveling, we suggest using Vitality SuperGreen, which contains a covalent-bonded form of glutamine called GlutImmune. It is ten times stronger than L-glutamine.

In between flare-ups and even when symptoms of gut inflammation are at their worst, give your body extra support with L-glutamine.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

Air travel is a common stressor to the immune system. Even worse, it can deprive the body of oxygen and greatly affect the health of the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, research suggests that gastrointestinal flare-ups may be directly associated with air travel, although a final conclusion has yet to be made.

Individuals that are the most vulnerable to gut inflammation caused by air travel are sufferers of irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. The reason? When the body is starved of oxygen at a high altitude, it can lead to hypoxia, which will cause inflammation and destroy healthy tissue. This aggravation can make pre-existing gut disorders even worse.

Of course, it’s not possible to avoid flying altogether. When it comes to air travel, you can use these helpful tips to protect your health and enjoy your trip from start to finish:

  1. Support gut health with beneficial bacteria from cultured vegetables or a few ounces of a probiotic beverage like InnergyBiotic.
  2. Use a blood tonic like Dong Quai to improve circulation.
  3. Rely on Assist Full Spectrum digestive enzymes to support intestinal walls that have been damaged by inflammation and hypoxia.
  4. Restore digestive health with Vitality SuperGreen to rebuild the gut barrier.
    • Veggie Culture Starter

      Veggie Culture Starter

      Resist Infections, Enhance Digestion

      • Ideal for appetite and weight control
      • Ideal for pregnant women
      • Ideal for children with Autism and ADD
      • Can be enjoyed daily
      • Easy to make at home
    • InnergyBiotic 750mL

      InnergyBiotic 750mL

      A Delicious and Refreshing Source of Probiotics

      • Helps maintain a healthy balance of microflora in the digestive tract
      • Helps boost your energy
      • Helps maintain healthy digestion
    • Dong Quai 750mL

      Dong Quai 750mL

      Help Maintain Hormonal Health with Dong Quai

      • Fermented liquid beverage that contains dong quai herb
      • Promotes overall body balancing and restoration
      • Helps maintain a healthy balance of microflora in the digestive tract
    • Vitality SuperGreen

      Vitality SuperGreen

      Complete Superfood Nutrition

      Benefits for the common condition of leaky gut* - formulated with ingredients shown to maintain a healthy gut lining1,2,3

      What makes Vitality SuperGreen different from all the other green drinks on the market today? It’s the very alkalizing formula - the fermented algae blend, red marine blend, intestinal support blend and fermented green veggies —specially created by Donna Gates—that soothes and is very healing to the gut lining. A generous amount of nutrient-rich elements like L-glutamine, FOS from chicory inulin, GMO-free Sunflower Lecithin, and aloe vera extract (200:1) help establish and maintain a healthy inner ecosystem. We’ve spared no cost in blending together an extraordinary spectrum (or life force) of fermented algae and cereal grasses, fermented green veggies, enzymes, probiotics and food-based supplements providing you the highest quality fermented green drink on the market today.

      Nourish Your Inner Ecosystem with 2 scoops per day.

      Vitality SuperGreen:

      • Strengthens immunity so you feel more energetic and vibrant*
      • Offers an excellent source of complete nutrition - easily assimilated protein, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, lignans, essential fatty acids, nucleic acids, and beneficial microflora*
      • Soy Free • Dairy Free/Vegan
      • Provides healthy food for beneficial microflora - a potent, mineral-rich blend of fermented algae and red marine algae4
      • Fermented to magnify bioavailability*
      • Rich in antioxidants
      • Detoxifies the body to help maintain a healthy weight*
      • Unlike many superfoods on the market today, Vitality SuperGreen tastes great!
    • Assist Full Spectrum Enzymes

      Assist Full Spectrum Enzymes

      Break Down Food, Absorb Nutrients and Prevent Gas and Bloating

      • One of the most complete and powerful digestive enzymes available
      • Assures digestion of proteins over the entire pH range from 2.0 to 11.0
      • Fast-acting, high-potency enzyme formula


  1. Vavricka, S. R., Rogler, G., Maetzler, S., Misselwitz, B., Manser, C. N., Wojtal, K. A., & Schoepfer, A. (2012). 303 High Altitude Journeys and Flights are Associated With the Increased Risk of Flares in IBD Patients. Gastroenterology, 142(5), S-68.
  2. Campbell, J., Borody, T. and Leis, S. (2012). The many faces of Crohn’s Disease: Latest concepts in etiology. Open Journal of Internal Medicine, 2, 107-115. doi: 10.4236/ojim.2012.22020
  3. Sartor, R Balfour. (2006). Mechanisms of Disease: pathogenesis of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 3, 390-407.

Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired? A virus could be to blame.

Learn how to get it under control before it controls you.

Start here: The Body Ecology Antiviral Protocol

Want more articles like this?

Sign up to receive weekly articles. You'll also receive a 15% off coupon, the BE Blueprint, and tips from Donna and her team.

Community Poll

What Health Topics Are You Most Interested In?


Information and statements regarding dietary supplements/products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is a result of years of practice and experience by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your healthcare provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this website.

Please wait...

Continue shopping
View cart & checkout
Continue shopping
View cart & checkout