Post by Emily White
As the mornings get colder in New Zealand and winter looms on the horizon, many of us are booking warm holidays to escape the grips of the Southern Hemisphere winter. However with long-haul travel comes the inevitable dreaded jet lag. When we travel to a new time zone, our circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and remain on their original biological schedule for several days. Some individuals try taking over-the-counter or prescription pills to improve symptoms while others rely on coffee and adrenaline to get them through. Emerging research has discovered a game changing strategy to fight jet lag: fasting before and during the flight.
Emerging research from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston discovered that fasting during travel may allow you to recover from jet lag faster. By modifying your feeding clock it is thought that you can adjust to a new time zone faster.
Researchers found that in mice, when food is restricted, a second ‘master clock’ located in the dorsomedial nucleus, can take over. Now because this isn’t a human study, the results need to be taken with a grain of salt, but both humans and mice have a dorsomedial nucleus that responds to hunger which makes this research compelling. In addition, more individuals are finding that this can work in practise, which means that there is no harm in trying this on your next long haul.
So, why not try manipulate your feeding clock, rather than your sleep clock, the next time you fly long haul to avoid jet lag? Let’s be honest, airport and plane food isn’t of the best quality anyway, so fasting during this time makes for an easy way to avoid subpar food plus feel better on arrival.
So if you are getting on a 12-hour flight from Auckland to LAX, what could this look like?
As with anything, just because it works for someone doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you and therefore you may need to change it up to suit you. However feedback from individuals who have tried it, plus this emerging research suggests that there could be something to it. Besides, it’s a great excuse to turn down those salted pretzels and stale white dinner roll on the flight!