Can Fasting Cure Jet Lag?
As travel resumes and we begin to consider air travel. We are also hyper-focused on how to stay healthy before, during, and after a trip. One consideration of travel is what to eat on the plane. Especially if one is traveling a long distance. while many of us will not have these long flights for a while, a goal is to arrive healthy, well and alert–and arriving without jet lag would be a perk.
In the last few years, there has been a robust discussion regarding the benefits of fasting to counteract jet lag for long flights.
Some studies claim that fasting from 16 hours or more can improve the physical and mental decline following a long flight. Although the studies have been primarily animal studies and may or may not translate to our human experience.
- Jet lag can have a number of negative effects on the body, including headaches, grouchiness and of course, an inability to sleep properly at night
- To help avoid all of these symptoms, doctors suggest holding off on food until hours after landing, which allows the body to ‘resynchronize’
- Some experts go as far as to suggest a 24-hour fast rather than a 16-hour one
A note on the science: There is no human data at present that confirms that skipping meals for most or all of a long international flight will reduce or prevent jet lag. For now, there is only preliminary animal data. The science of the cycles that keep track of time, or chronobiology, is growing, and fasting may reset these cycles to permit more rapid recovery. The key word is may reset. In an analysis of risk versus benefit however, for most people, skipping airline meals is of no risk and may be a positive step.
Speaking of safe travels. Don’t travel if you are not feeling well or think you have been exposed to anything that could compromise your health or that of someone else. Remember to bring and wear your mask and wash hands frequently, together we can achieve health once more.