Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Information and Resources

Font Size
A
A
A

Keeping Healthy While Flying

Advice for travelers who want to stay healthy on those long, cramped airplane flights.

Eat Little

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 nostrils.

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."

Hot Topics

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

tea
What you should eat.
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Is yours working?
woman using breath spray
What's causing yours?
colon xray
Get the facts.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
Eat for a healthy heart.
woman doing pushups
To help you get fit.
Colored x-ray of tooth decay
Know what to look for.
Woman sitting with child
Do you know the symptoms?
fruit drinks
Foods that can help you focus.
Sad dog and guacamole
Don't feed this to your dog.
Thyroid exam
See how much you know.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.