Many Brits will be jetting off on holiday over the next few weeks, but one souvenir people don’t want to bring home is the dreaded jet lag.
Anyone who has been on a long-haul flight will probably have experienced the uncomfortable grogginess that hits when you feel like you’re staved of sleep, but can’t doze off.
Jet lag is your body’s response to crossing multiple time zones and the disruption this causes to your body’s internal clock.
The pineal gland, which controls your body’s temperature and internal clock, is disrupted by the change in light, playing havoc with your natural rhythms.
This means we react subconsciously to changes in our environment, and know when we should sleep in the normal cycle of 24 hours.
After a long-haul flight, you may struggle sleeping or staying awake at your usual time, as your body has adapted to a different time zone – this feeling can last for up to a week.
The World Health Organization warned that the effects are far greater than problems with sleep – jet lag can cause indigestion issues, disturbance of bowel function, blood pressure fluctuations, and general malaise.
Expert nutritionist Tom Bennett at MuscleFood revealed some tasty tips to help you tackle the dreaded jet lag.
He said: “The importance of your diet and the effect it has on all aspects of your body, cannot be understated. From sleep to energy levels, food is fuel for your body and loading up on the right nutrients and minerals can help you combat the effects of jet lag.
“Travelling can drain your energy (even if you are only sitting on a plane), so it’s important to reimburse those levels through what you eat.”
Here are three foods you can munch down on to beat jet lag on your next holiday.
Almonds, cashews, and peanuts
Nuts are rich in electrolytes, zinc and magnesium, an essential vitamin that’s shown to help people relax and improve sleep.
They also contain the natural hormone melatonin, which is “released by the body in the evening to let your brain know it’s time to sleep”, explains the NHS.
So, if you’re in a time zone where you’ll need to get some shut-eye sooner than you’d like – nuts and other magnesium-rich foods can help you drift off.
Tom explained: “For foods to avoid jet lag, it all comes down to the nutrients involved in the food – for example, foods high in magnesium such as peanuts will help people drift off to sleep if their body clock is forward.
“Magnesium aids sleep as it regulates the hormones that trigger sleep cycles in the body.”
Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to beat the grogginess of jet lag.
Foods with high water content are a refreshing way to stay hydrated after a long-haul flight.
Strawberries are perfect for this, alongside watermelon, celery, and drinking plenty of water.
Another way to stay ahead of dehydration, is to snack on cucumbers – they contain 96 percent water.
They also contain antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation.
Fighting the urge to fall asleep too early after a holiday can be difficult, especially when you need to get back on track with your sleeping pattern.
Bananas provide the hit of energy you need to help you power through.
They are packed full of potassium and natural sugars to help give your body the boost to keep those eyes open.
“Potassium-rich, high-sugar foods like fruits will help keep people awake if their body clock is behind. This is because potassium is responsible for producing energy,” explained Tom.
As for food and drinks to avoid, coffee and alcohol should be approached with caution.
According to Insider: “Coffee can have a mild diuretic effect, and too much of it can contribute to dehydration… In addition, caffeine can play havoc with your body clock by delaying the increase in melatonin.”
Foods with large amounts of sugar should also be limited if you’re wanting an energy boost.
While these foods will give you a burst at first, it will shortly be followed by an energy crash, which is far from ideal when you’re suffering from jet lag.
According to the NHS, symptoms of jet lag can include:
Difficulty sleeping at night alongside waking up in the morning
Tiredness and exhaustion
Difficulty staying awake during the day
Poor sleep quality
Other symptoms include:
Changes in appetite