Why the frequent flyer needs more than just electrolytes
What are electrolytes?
The four key electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, chloride and sodium) can assist in alleviating the symptoms like dehydration, cramping and loss of energy that can regularly hamper athletic performance.
Electrolyte products are taken with water by athletes to assist the body in:
- Maintaining hydration,
- Preventing muscle cramps,
- Sustaining energy and endurance,
- Enhancing mental focus.
But whilst these benefits can help during all forms of exercise including training, when competing, and can even aid a faster recovery, the traveller needs more support.
Electrolytes whilst travelling
For the susceptible business and leisure traveller, it is well known that long haul flights may be a risk factor for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which may be due in part to mild dehydration from insufficient fluid intake, consumption of diuretic beverages and low ambient humidity. In a flight simulation it was found the risk could be reduced by an intake of isotonic-electrolyte solution compared with water alone. Magnesium, for instance, contributes to electrolyte balance.
Mild dehydration can impact cognitive function, which is not desirable for any business executive after a long-haul flight. Electrolyte supplementation will go some way to helping avoid this, but alone they are not a complete solution to hydration recovery.
Other vital beneficial nutrients the business and leisure traveller need
The frequent flyer experiences additional health misalignment to the athlete. Other nutrients can help with the various symptoms associated with travel fatigue;
- Reduced cognitive ability,
- Increased tiredness,
- Sleep cycle interruption,
- Disturbed gastrointestinal function,
- Mood swings.
To help with rest, magnesium helps reduce tiredness and fatigue, chamomile and lavender help support relaxation, and 5-HTP is a precursor in the body to the hormone melatonin which contributes to alleviation of subjective feelings of jetlag.
A business traveller can support his or her mental alertness by supplementing zinc, Gingko biloba, guarana and lecithin which help to support normal cognitive function, whilst B vitamins and iron can help reduce fatigue.
Immune function can be impaired with disruption to the circadian rhythm. This can be an important factor in the risk of getting an infection. Immune system function can be supported by vitamin D, elderberry, ginger and turmeric. Travel fatigue can cause upset to the gastrointestinal system which can be alleviated by aloe vera and ginger.
Besides the all-important rehydration to guard against the risk of DVT, Pycnogenol® from pine bark extract can help protect blood vessels and promote good blood circulation. Fruitflow® helps maintain normal platelet aggregation contributing to healthy blood flow.
Where replacing electrolytes is the domain of the professional athlete, a business and leisure traveller can use them to partially negate the effects and risks of travel fatigue. But there are other more suitable nutrients that would further enhance the traveller to perform at the best of their abilities whilst maintaining optimum health.
 Hamada, K. Doi, T. Sakurai, M. et al. (2002) ‘Effects of hydration on fluid balance and lower extremity blood viscosity during long airplane flights’ Journal of the American Medical Association 287(7):844-845.