Traveling can involve a fair bit of compromise.
Sure, there are many places that will be able to cater to your specific dietary needs, but there are just as many locales that won’t. You might find yourself eating a less-than-healthy meal because hunger wins out over the exhaustion of foraging for greens or that paleo-friendly option.
You may have to forgo fitness during travel days, and let’s face it, most airport and roadside accommodations have less-than-stellar meal offerings. Not to mention once you arrive at your final destination, you may be facing lack of sleep from jet lag, cramped muscles from sitting for an unnatural period of time and a weakened immune system from the normal travel-induced stressors.
But all of this is okay, if you’re prepared to offset traveling’s unpredictability by packing some handy supplements to support your journey (and overall health) while on the go.
It’s also worth mentioning that whole foods, in their organic, natural form, are always the more viable option when it comes to the healing vitamins and minerals your body needs. Whenever possible, try to get in as many whole foods as possible.
A few travel hacks for eating out: add some fresh or pickled ginger to your hot tea while out at sushi to help with stomachaches or digestion. And to boost immunity ask for a healthy dash of cayenne pepper or go for that garlic-laden dish (and then maybe invest in some mints).
But it always helps to have a back-up plan when there’s nothing in sight for miles. We talked to a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist to understand how to create balance in the body when you are in a constant state of flux.
Before You Leave
Probiotic: A high quality probiotic should be a part of your everyday regimen. Gut health is now recognized to be one of the single most important elements to a healthy lifestyle, supporting everything from immune response to cognitive function.
Taking a probiotic daily will help support the good bacteria in your system, keeping your body healthy and ready to take on whatever comes your way throughout your trip.
Andrographis: Often combined with Siberian Ginseng, this potent herb can be taken as a preventative measure as you’re boarding that crowded flight or about to squeeze into any tight travel space with recirculated air.
Andrographis is known to ward off bacteria by stimulating the immune system, and is thought to improve the symptoms of a common cold if taken within 72 hours of feeling a bit under the weather.
While You’re There
Coptis: A Coptis supplement is important to have on hand when traveling to remote international locations that could cause stomach issues, to put it mildly.
An herb used to treat an irritable gastrointestinal tract, Coptis is recognized for its anti-diarrheal properties. It contains berberine, a muti-faceted compound that is thought to kill various parasites, as well as tannins and ferric acid, which may serve as an antioxidant and promote healthy digestion.
Curing Pills: If you leave your house with only one thing, this should be it.
These tiny, circular supplements are a bit gentler than Coptis, and can be used for mild digestive disturbances (think overeating, or indigestion from eating exotic foods that your body isn't quite used to) and also to ease the common symptoms of a classic hangover.
One of the main ingredients, Porio cocos – or Fu Ling – grows on the roots of pine trees and has been used for generations in Chinese medicine to get stagnant fluids moving in the body and to promote immune system function.
On top of that, Curing Pills are packed with a variety of herbs like Ge-gen (or Kudzu Root), Zico Hu Ziang (fennel) and Ju hua (Chrysanthemum morifolium) that help with dehydration, fatigue, sore eyes and body aches.
Melatonin: A good night’s sleep is key to staying healthy and happy – especially while traveling.
Even if you’ve established the most solid sleep patterns, consider tucking some melatonin into your backpack before heading off to your next destination.
After spending hours or even days getting there, you’ll want to sleep in a bit to recalibrate your body to its new surroundings, and melatonin is a natural solution. Just don’t get too attached to taking it – melatonin shouldn’t be used regularly as a sleep aid, but works wonders for occasional jet lag.
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