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If you plan on crossing a few time zones over the holidays, you’ll want to prepare.
Jet lag may not seem like a big deal. But the reality is that your body wasn’t designed to move quickly over long distances. When this happens, your internal clock is thrown for a loop.
Your metabolism shifts, your behavior changes, and your immune system crashes.
This is because your circadian rhythm is synced up to large environmental cues. Like sunlight. And when you eat.
Eating junk food while traveling can throw your inner ecosystem out of whack. Complete gut support with the Body Ecology Quick Start Program can minimize the effects of jet lag after a long flight.
Everyone’s circadian clock is set to roughly 24 hours. As your body adjusts to a new time zone, you may:
In order to minimize the effects of jet lag and give yourself the support you need while traveling, follow these three tips:
That sleepy feeling that you get at the end of the day is partly caused by a hormone called melatonin. Your body releases melatonin at night, while you sleep.
Light controls the release of melatonin. The short-wave blue light coming from electronic devices like flat-screen televisions, smartphones, tablets, and laptops can suppress melatonin and interfere with your sleep. (2)
Because children have larger pupils than adults, they are more sensitive to short-wave blue light. (3) One recent study found that twice as much melatonin is suppressed in children than in adults when exposed to the same amount of light. (4)
When flying, you can ease into a new time zone by avoiding screens during the midnight and early morning hours.
You may also want to invest in a pair of orange-tinted glasses. Research shows that these glasses can effectively filter out short-wave blue light. (5)
Maybe you’re on vacation. But your body isn’t.
It turns out that a distorted circadian rhythm (or jet lag) triggers leaky gut. (6) This is partly because your gut bacteria have a 24-hour rhythm that’s linked up to your own sleep-wake cycle. (7)
During the daylight hours, your gut bacteria are in “maintenance” mode—moving food through the small intestine and helping to detoxify the body. During the evening hours, they are in “repair” mode as different communities of bacteria consume food, repair DNA, and grow.
But aren’t the inside of your intestines dark all of the time? One way that gut bacteria sense day and night is through your own biochemistry. When you’re jet-lagged, your inner ecosystem is thrown out of balance. Maintenance and repair don’t happen. Instead, the wrong bacteria take over.
For example, samples of gut bacteria that were pulled during jet lag showed a higher proportion of Firmicutes, a family of bacteria that is associated with obesity and metabolic disease. (8)
When traveling, the principles of The Body Ecology Diet are more important than ever. A gut-healing diet curtails the damage that jet lag does to your inner ecosystem.
Coffee and other stimulants with caffeine may sound tempting. After all, they’ll give you the boost that you need to make your flight or bounce off the plane.
But the problem with caffeine is that it can push your circadian clock in the wrong direction.
If you use caffeine when you would normally allow yourself sleep, you may later find it difficult to go to sleep or stay asleep. This means that you may be exposed to more light than you want—further pushing your circadian rhythm out of balance.
Likewise, over-the-counter melatonin (which supports sleep) is only useful when taken at the right time.
Melatonin taken during the early evening advances your internal clock (appropriate if you’re flying east), whereas melatonin taken during the morning delays it (appropriate if you’re flying west). There is also a “dead zone” when melatonin isn’t useful. This is right before bedtime, when melatonin levels naturally rise. (9)
Jet lag is the most unpleasant part of holiday travel. It can wipe out your vacation before you have time to recover. The truth is that your body was not designed to move quickly over long distances. Air travel can easily throw off your internal clock.
You can minimize jet lag by supporting your body with three helpful tips:
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