This article was contributed by attorney and healthy traveler Jiah Kim. The opinions expressed by guest contributors are theirs alone.
Dateline: New York, USA
Do you call yourself a perpetual traveler?
When you are constantly on the move, it is important to maintain an optimal mental and physical state to stay productive and fully enjoy new experiences. A healthy body will keep your uninterrupted by illness. Often, it is a challenge because you are constantly exposed to new environments to adapt to.
Here are some tips to stay healthy for modern nomads…
1. Understand your baselines
I recommend daily monitoring of basal body temperature and pulse in the morning. These are easy to measure and track through apps like Kinsa (for temperature) and Instant heart rate (for, um, heart rate), which automatically send data to your iPhone’s health app.
They are good indications of the current state of one’s metabolism. I also suggest checking thyroid, cortisol, sex hormones, and levels of important nutrients like vitamins, iron, calcium, through more frequent tests than an annual check up.
Then, you can use these data to create an effective physical feedback system by being conscious of how different environments affect your body and managing your level of activities and exposure to stress in response. Not only you are able to detect diseases early, you can adjust your lifestyle better according to your energy level.
More reason to live in a place with affordable, high quality medical services.
2. Aim to optimize circadian rhythm and sleep better.
Our body follows a 24-hour schedule to induce wake-up and sleep, secretion of hormones and other metabolic processes. The physiological changes are determined by this “internal clock” found in our brain and in cells throughout the body.
Scientists have connected many “modern” diseases to our circadian rhythm being “out of wrack” and resulting lack of quality sleep. Changing time zones often can put major stress on circadian rhythm unless it is managed properly with attention.
In order to optimize circadian rhythm, you can play a few tricks to speed up the hormones quickly in the morning by drinking lemon water with sea salt, do quick weight-loaded exercises, drink high quality protein shakes or coffee.
As a day passes into late afternoon, slow down, reduce exposure to blue light (less screen time or use apps like f.lux that cuts off blue right), or take vitamin c, magnesium or zinc to lower stress hormone effectively.
Such efforts will help sleep better and keep up your immune system and brain power.
3. Cook for yourself more often
Even though you might want to experience local foods and go to all the great restaurants you have access to, there are reasons to make them less frequent and eat more food you cook.
First, the quality of ingredients used in restaurants are often suspicious even at the best of them and it is not in your control. Also, excessive additives are used to make you come back. Hydrogenated or polyunsaturated fats in the form of cheaper vegetable oils are chemically unstable and create more inflammation in our body.
Without depriving yourself of the biggest joy of travelling, which is enjoying the local food, you can still make home-cooked meals more frequent than dining out. You will feel you enjoy an occasional treat more when your stomach is given a break
Bring some good protein powders and healthy fats like coconut oil or ghee with you. You can also carry your own coffee beans if you care about the good coffee as much as I do.
Do more grocery shopping. Grocery stores often show a lot more local flavor than restaurants filled with tourists. Smell fresh vegetables in farmers’ markets. If you rely on animal proteins, eggs are the safest source of protein than other meat because they are less affected by the quality of agricultural practice.
4. Minimize exposure to toxins
Your body has to work hard to get rid of toxins like pesticides, mercury, chloride and bromine. So, when you intake less toxins, it enables your body to distribute more energy to enjoying work and play.
Instead of relying on tap water or plastic bottled water, consider bringing a portable water purification like Berkey Sports bottle. It is considered to be powerful enough to filter the worst stagnant water. Drinking a lot of quality water will make toxins flush out of your body more easily.
Be picky about where you stay. If you smell mold or strong cleaning chemicals in a place, they will eventually slow down your brain and immune system. Carpets are notorious in contaminating our breathing air with dust and chemicals like fire retardants. If you don’t have a choice, make sure you get fresh air often.
5. Fool yourself to normalcy
It is a trait of a perpetual traveler to make home in anywhere he goes. If physical environments are constantly changing, you can still create an inner stability by having routines and habits that make you feel comfortable in familiarity.
Have morning routines such as meditation, writing, short walk, or talking to your loved ones to start a day with ease. Create workout routines you can do wherever you are. Bring your own spoon or a small blanket to hug in (if you still have room in your carrier bag).