The exciting experiences of travel--new environments, new foods, new time zones --are also what make it so taxing on the human body. Whether it's a nagging cough, fatigue or an upset stomach, we've all been under the weather as a result of traveling.
Lynn Laboranti, M.S., R.D., has some tips and ideas on how natural dietary supplements can help maintain health and treat unwanted symptoms. She suggests adding the following health staples to any road warrior's travel bag:
Fight Motion Sickness: Boat, plane or car travel can leave many feeling nauseated. Traditional medications have side effects such as dry mouth and drowsiness. To feel better naturally, Laboranti suggests adults take between 0.5 - 2 grams of ginger 30 minutes before travel departure for smooth sailing, flying or driving.
Avoid Counting Sheep: For a good night's sleep, valerian root or melatonin, a natural hormone, may help promote pleasant dreams for even the most restless traveler. Laboranti cautions against driving or operating heavy equipment when taking valerian root and cautions pregnant mothers, people with severe allergies or certain autoimmune or cancerous diseases against taking melatonin. She recommends adults take 200 mg of valerian root in standardized extract form or 1000 mg of it in whole herb form at least an hour before bed. For melatonin, Laboranti recommends 3 mg a day, one to two hours before bedtime.
Maintain a Balanced Diet: Eating at odd times or dining on unknown foods can tip the scales of a well-balanced diet. To receive all the vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthful diet, Laboranti suggests taking multivitamins on the road. While never a substitute for meals, multivitamins always help to maintain a well-balanced diet, whether in Kansas City or Katmandu.
Pump Up Your Immune System: The re-circulated air of planes, trains and automobiles can be stale and unhealthful. To pass through these environments unscathed, Laboranti suggests taking between 250-500 mg of vitamin C two to three times daily. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that may keep you healthy by neutralizing free radicals and boosting the immune system.
Bring Health With You: Studies show that Echinacea may help boost the immune system. Echinacea has been used for centuries and may even be used as a support for healthy lungs. Laboranti recommends a daily dosage of 250 mg for the standardized extract form or 1400 mg in whole herb form, but for no longer than eight weeks at a time. Also, if you have allergies, (e.g., if you are allergic to ragweed or related plants), Laboranti strongly advises checking with your physician before taking Echinacea.
Keep Energy Levels High: To keep the weariness of constant travel at bay, Laboranti recommends road warriors supplement their diets with B-complex vitamins. Among other energy-boosting benefits, the thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, B-6, pantothenic acid, folate, B-12 and biotin in a B-complex supplement help to maintain the health of the nerves and eyes, which are among the first things to go when traveling. Laboranti recommends taking such a well-balanced B-complex supplement daily.
Arm Yourself For New Environments: The new sights we encounter on our travels are exciting, but the new climates sometimes make a trip go sour. Clinical studies show that daily amounts of vitamin A may boost the body's immune function.Vitamin A has also been shown to help the body maintain lung, mouth and throat tissue. Laboranti recommends adults take between 3,000 to 6,000 I.U.'s of vitamin A each day, in addition to a healthy diet and other antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C. Note: The new DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) for Vitamin A is 2,300 I.U. for women and 3,000 I.U. for men. This number represents the minimum daily recommendation, with an upper limit of 10,000 I.U.
Say Goodbye to Sour Stomach: One way to spoil an otherwise great vacation is to suffer the wrath of unfamiliar foods on the stomach. To enjoy the local fare without worrying about the body's response, take Acidophilus before, during and after your travels and keep things as regular as the day you left. Laboranti recommends taking 500 million live cells twice a day.
Energize to Maximize Your Travels: For an active traveler who is on the go from dawn until dusk, Ginseng may help maintain physical stamina. Clinical studies show that ginseng may invigorate and fortify in times of fatigue, can lower stress and may increase energy levels. Laboranti suggests adults take 250 mg in standardized extract form or 1,000 mg in whole herb form daily. However, she strongly advises people with abnormal blood pressure, taking anti-depressants, or taking insulin or diabetic medication, to speak with a health care practitioner before using this product.
Make A Pit Stop at the Doctor's Office:There may be certain vaccinations or other preparations required before traveling abroad. Play it safe and make sure to check with your physician before departing. Some doctors and/or clinics specialize in travel medicine. Take advantage of these services to better ensure a safe and healthy trip.