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Jet lag can be one of the most inconvenient parts of long-distance travel.
Traveling across multiple time zones can disrupt your circadian rhythm, which can make it hard to line up your sleep schedule with the local time zone.
Thankfully, there are a few foods that can help you mitigate jet lag and make the most out of your trip.
Insider spoke with nutritionist Serena Poon to see which foods can help minimize the effects of jet lag and which ones to avoid.
Tart cherries contain melatonin, which can help regulate your sleep.
Melatonin is produced naturally by the body and helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Research suggests it can help improve symptoms of jet lag.
“A lot of people turn to melatonin supplements for travel, but there are also a few foods that contain melatonin, including cherries,” said Poon.
Nutritionists recommend eating cherries or drinking cherry juice after arriving at your destination to help induce sleep.
Eating watermelon can help fight fatigue.
The dry air on planes can make for an uncomfortable flight in general but can also exacerbate feelings of grogginess.
“Mild dehydration can be a big culprit for feeling crummy when you travel,” said Poon.
Drinking water isn’t the only way to make sure you’re getting enough fluids. Plenty of fruits and vegetables have high water-content percentages, which makes them the perfect travel snack. One example is watermelon, which contains 92% water, registered dietitian nutritionist Elizabeth Beil told Insider’s Erin Heger.
The high water content in watermelon means it can also help fight feelings of fatigue and improve focus.
Cucumbers are another hydrating snack option — they contain 96% water.
Cucumbers also contain antioxidants which can help reduce inflammation.
Snacking on these before and after your flight can help you stay ahead of dehydration.
Avocados, nuts, and seeds are filling and high in electrolytes.
Electrolytes, which include magnesium, potassium, and chloride, are key for regulating the amount of water you have in your body. If you’re dehydrated, replenishing your electrolytes can help.
“Filling up on foods that are high in magnesium and potassium can help you avoid the malaise that comes along with mild dehydration,” said Poon.
You can get enough electrolytes through a varied diet of healthy foods, such as vegetables and fruit. Bananas, avocados, and spinach are high in potassium, while nuts, beans, and seeds are rich in magnesium.
Citrus fruits, such as grapefruits, are great sources of vitamin C, which can help with focus.
Citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C, which can support mental clarity. This can help when trying to jump into the swing of things in a new time zone.
“Having high concentrations of vitamin C correlates to enhanced cognitive functions such as attention, focus, and decision making,” said Poon.
Coffee, as tempting as it may be, does not mesh well with long-distance travel if you drink too much of it.
It may seem like a no-brainer to reach for cup after cup of coffee when you’re feeling sleepy. When dealing with jet lag however, it might be best to reconsider.
While there is a host of benefits linked to drinking coffee, it does not always mesh well with jet lag. 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.
Poon ushers the same caution for alcoholic drinks.
“They are dehydrating and can disturb natural sleep cycles,” she said.
Added sugars can offer a temporary boost, followed by a crash.
Poon recommends steering clear of foods with large amounts of added sugars since they “can negatively impact your energy levels,” she said.
Flavored yogurt, smoothies, and even oat milk are examples of foods that may be hiding added sugars.