In today’s interview I get to speak with flight attendant, nutritional therapist and jet lag expert, Christopher Babayode, about what we can do to help us reduce jet lag and protect our health while flying.
With 20 years of flying experience behind him Chris is very passionate about sharing his knowledge and helping educate people on how to travel better with their well being in mind, long term.
In today’s interview we get a chance to talk about some helpful tools we can use that can help us bounce back quicker and mitigate some of the negative effects of air travel.
If you know someone who struggles with jet lag or is a frequent flier looking to optimize their travel experience and feel better in the long-term, this interview is for them.
I enjoyed this interview as I love to travel and, whether it’s a business trip or a holiday, I want to spend the least amount of time possible recovering from jet lag.
After speaking with Chris, I have a better understanding of the numerous ways air travel affects our health, some of which can be easily overlooked and have serious consequences. On a lighter note, I also enjoyed getting an insider’s tips on how to get on the flight attendants good side!
Special thanks to Chris for joining me on the show. Enjoy the episode!
Show Notes with Timestamp Links
Highlights of what we talk about during the interview:
Click on one of the timestamp links in the brackets to jump to that point in the interview audio.
[00:20] – Introducing Christopher Babayode, a flight attendant for the UK’s largest airline, naturopathically trained nutritional therapist and frequent flier. Chris also wrote a book called: Farewell Jet Lag: Cures from a Flight Attendant available on Amazon.
[02:12] – Chris helps us understand the difference between jet lag and jet stress. Jet lag affects infrequent fliers and tends to correct itself. Jet stress is a chronically acute condition affecting people who fly on a regular basis. It is draining to the body’s immunity and health. The major distinction is that one is a condition the other is a lifestyle. So, there are different things that infrequent and frequent fliers need to address to help make their flying experience more pleasurable.
[05:03] – How does the flying crew learn to cope with constant flying across multiple time-zones? Not all of them are adept at coping. Chris explains how when he started, 20 years ago, the airline provided a booklet with advice which included drinking enough water, keeping the mind active, and getting enough sleep. Since then, things moved along and new research is continually coming out. After Chris finished his nutritional therapist training, his circumstances changed. He started putting together the patterns he observed among his peers, information from scientific literature as well as personal experience of seeing what works and developed his methodology called The Farewell System.
[09:58] – The most common symptom associated with jet lag is insomnia, but this doesn’t kick in straight away for everyone. Instead, they experience a lack of quality sleep. Some other symptoms that tend to be overlooked are constipation and dehydration. We discuss other symptoms of circadian dysrhythmia like: low energy levels, inability to maintain weight, hormonal disruption and, at a critical point, adrenal fatigue.
[13:19] – Chris shares some tips for infrequent fliers. We learn how high levels of vitamin C help bring down cortisol levels and why it is important to make a habit of earthing/grounding ourselves. It has been scientifically proven that Earth’s magnetic field is beneficial to us. Coupled with grounding, Chris also likes to implement Dr Chris Idzikowski’s (from the Edinburgh Sleep Centre) advice and step out at sunrise local time as this is the moment in the 24-hour cycle that is most susceptible to influence on the circadian rhythm and will have the most entraining effect
[20:10] – One of the principles Chris teaches is the idea of entrainment. He explains how as human beings we get cues from our environment and should get out into the environment if we want to re-entrain ourselves to the local time.
[22:14] – How do we optimize the water we drink while we are on the plane? In the book The Body Electric, Robert O. Becker helps us understand how our bodies conduct electricity and Chris explains how the best type of water to help us conduct electricity is structured water. One of the best products – and one that Chris uses himself – to use on the plane is MegaHydrate™ by Dr Patrick Flanagan which comes in powder or tablet form. Dr Gerald Pollack also talks about the fourth aggregate state and structured water.
[27:57] – We talk about the importance of getting up and moving around on long-haul flights. While Chris acknowledges there could be challenges for the crew with everyone getting up at once and following this advice, he still highly recommends it!
[30:08] – A great tip to help block and regulate exposure to unnatural blue light from everyone’s TV screens is wearing blue-blocking glasses. This links back to melatonin which is not only a sleep onset hormone, but also a super antioxidant for which there are receptors in every cell of the body. Frequent travel without regularity decreases the body’s cue in terms of the amount of melatonin being secreted. Chris explains why he likes to supplement to support the hormonal chain that leads up to regulation of melatonin rather than supplementing with melatonin itself.
[33:28] – Is travelling west or east harder on the body? Most people say travelling east is harder as you are chasing the day rather than extending it. This does depend on the type of chronotype (lark vs owl) a person has, however, and some people might find the reverse to be true. (Biohackers Lab Tip: Get a wearable sleep tracker to help track your sleep)
[36:02] – While long-term solutions are preferable, Chris shares some quick tips for frequent fliers. He explains why caffeine from green tea is preferable to coffee and how you can eat to stay awake. Other things people can consider include doing the Wim Hof breathing and cold shower method. Chris clarifies that it is not that he doesn’t suffer jet lag, it’s that he has become adept at increasing his flexibility so that he can bounce back quicker. Using a host of tools, you teach your body to do so also.
[39:11] – Every frequent flier should also include some adaptogen herbs, which work through the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, in their arsenal to help them cope with stress. The adaptogens have a two-way action and correct over-functioning or under-functioning of the immune system bringing it back to centre. Chris works with individuals to find out what type of adaptogenic herbs will work best for them.
[42:56] – Poor air quality on the plane is another factor that contributes to the ill health effects. While the technology is changing, currently the cabin air is circulated, and the oxygen quality is not good; there is a hyperbaric environment onboard. Exercising and having a good VO2 max can help mitigate this. Perhaps jumping into a hypobaric chamber when you arrive at your destination – if you can.
[45:35] – The flight attendants endeavour to make everyone’s flight as pleasant as possible. So, occasionally if it’s available and you ask for something from another cabin you just may get it. To wrap up, Chris shares a couple of final tips: 1. being compliant with what’s asked of you puts you in good stead with the flight attendants and 2. a bit of innocuous flirting always helps!
[47:49] – For more information on Chris or his book Farewell Jet Lag: Cures from a Flight Attendant, visit www.farewelljetlag.com or you can also find him on nojetstress.com website, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter by searching @nojetstress