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6 Foods To Consume When You Have Jet Lag

Are you a jet setter? Find out what foods you should be eating if you're travelling to the other side of the world!

Jet lag occurs when our ‘internal body clock’ is disrupted due to crossing time zones and it can really put a damper on the first few days in a new country.

Our internal body clocks are also known as our ‘circadian rhythm’, which is in sync with a typical 24-hour period and it provides cues to tell our bodies when to wake up and when to go to sleep.  

However, as jet-lagged travellers know all too well, crossing different time zones can cause our body clocks to be thrown out of whack, leading to a whole host of symptoms including fatigue, digestive problems, appetite changes, altered blood pressure and insomnia. This can be a result of our bodies trying to adapt to a different light-dark schedule but fear not, new science now suggests that certain foods may help to shift our internal clock and adjust to our new time zone a little better…

Whole grains at dinner

Consumption of carbohydrates stimulates the release of insulin into the blood stream in order to manage blood sugar levels. One study conducted on mice found that insulin could change the circadian clock, with higher insulin levels inducing drowsiness and lower insulin inducing wakefulness.

This means that a spike in insulin at night could affect our circadian rhythm to induce sleep. Thus, if you’re struggling to sleep upon landing, don’t forget a carbohydrate component, such as brown rice, at your evening meal.

Green leafy vegetables

Not only is magnesium a very calming mineral, which may aid with better sleep but science has shown that levels of magnesium in cells rise and fall in correlation with the 24-hour sleep and wake cycle, and that impacts the cells internal clocks.

One study showed that by having optimal magnesium levels within cells, the greater the likelihood of cells following the natural sleep cycle.

All dark green leafy vegetables are a great source of magnesium – try Kale, Spinach, Rocket and Chard.

Chamomile Tea

Caffeine may be a tempting go to when you’re experiencing post-flight fatigue, however, one study has found that caffeine can mess up your circadian rhythm too. Caffeine has been shown to delay the release of the sleep hormone melatonin by 40 minutes, pushing the start of your ‘biological night’ later. What’s more, caffeine is a stimulant and can stay in the system for up to many hours post consumption, which can further disrupt sleep.

Chamomile is a very calming tea and evidence has shown that it may help to reduce the occurrence of insomnia and promote a healthy sleep cycle.


Eggs are a great source of vitamin B12. B12 is known as an energy vitamin but has also been shown to play a role in regulating our internal clock and circadian rhythm.

Vitamin B12 can help to maximize our response to external light and turn of melatonin signaling in our brain. This supports our brain when making the transition from a resting sleep state to a more active awake state.

Ultimately vitamin B12 can help to induce wakefulness.

 Kiwi - Great for eating on the plane

One study
has shown that a kiwi a day has been linked to improvements in sleep and sleep quality. Kiwi is a fruit high in our happy hormone serotonin. Serotonin converts to the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin aids with sleep and carries out many important biological functions in relation to the circadian rhythm. 

Cherries - good for jet lag

Cherries are one of the only natural food sources of melatonin. Melatonin influences our biological clock to aid with sleep.

One study has shown that consumption of cherry juice twice daily can increase sleep time by more than 90 minutes a night.


Photo Credit: Rihanna for Harpers Bazaar
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