Keeping Healthy While Flying
Advice for travelers who want to stay healthy on those long, cramped airplane flights.
Pratima Raichur, a chemist, botanist, and aesthetician who owns Pratima
Ayurvedic Skin Care in New York, advises against drinking ice-cold or cold
water. That's because, according to Ayurvedic principles, being in the air
parallels Vata, a particular Ayurvedic constitution that is dry, does not like
the cold, and denotes a delicate digestive system. In other words, says
Raichur, with Vata energy already exaggerated in the airplane cabin, it's
important to make choices that decrease Vata.
Her advice? Take a pass on cold foods, such as raw salads, in favor of warm
nourishment. Decline carbonated beverages, which are full of gas. Favor warm
liquids, and choose tea over coffee. Because it's harder to digest food in
ultra-Vata conditions, it's better to eat a meal before boarding the plane.
If a person's flight is long, one possibility is to bring one's favorite
teas and food and "eat as little and light as possible." Raichur, who
says that steamed vegetables are always a good bet, likes to take
"kichidi," a combination of rice and beans that is flavored with
warming herbs like cumin, coriander, clove, and a pinch of cinnamon. Fennel
seeds are also good for digestion, she says.
Hydrate Your Skin
Raichur, who wrote the book Absolute Beauty, values hydrating as a
protective element for the skin. In addition to carrying water in a spray
bottle to spray directly on the face, one can also use essential oils. For
Raichur, the best essential oils for hydrating are geranium, rose, sweet orange
and lemon, either alone or in combination. She advises adding a total of 10
drops to 4 ounces of water.
Because the nasal mucous membranes can dry out, she suggests either taking a
saline solution to spray inside the nose or using "ghee," or clarified
butter, that one can take in a small container to apply directly into the
Raichur also suggests massaging key sinus points on the face - they're
located on either side of the nose, by the nostrils, on the cheeks at the
mid-nose point, at the cheek bones, and at the temples. One can also dab
essential oils diluted in carrier oil onto the pulse points for relaxation.
Bolster the Immune System
For Laurie Steelsmith, a licensed naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist who
practices in Honolulu, it's very important for people to protect their immune
systems while they're airborne. "You're in a closed environment with really
dry air and a lot of ill people from all over the world," she says.
"You're a walking open door."
Steelsmith is the author of Natural Choices for Women's Health: How the
Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness.
"When you're under stress, your body pH is going to become more
acidic," she says.
Avoid sugar-laden food and drink. "From the Chinese perspective, sugar
creates dampness and phlegm, which can lead to an environment where viruses and
bacteria thrive," Steelsmith says. "It creates a petri dish in your
sinuses and the back of your throat."