Let's get something straight. Healthy living is not just a problem while on the road. Adherence to healthy lifestyle patterns has decreased during the last 18 years- obesity is up, exercise is down, and the number of people eating just 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day plummeted (FYI the daily recommended intake of fruits and veggies is now 9 servings per day). Only 3% of Americans at the turn of the 21st century had the following 4 healthy lifestyle characteristics:
–5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables
–Exercising 30 min a day at least 5 days a week.
Whether people were wealthy or college-educated didn’t matter, no sub-group even remotely met clinical or public health recommendations. A recent Global Burden of Disease study showed that the worst 5 things about our diet are:
–We don’t eat enough fruits
–We don’t eat enough vegetables
–We don’t eat enough nuts & seeds
–We eat too much salt
–We eat too much processed meat
So there you have it: staying healthy is not just a problem while traveling, it's a problem in REAL LIFE. Unfortunately, travel adds a whole other layer of confusion and complexity- unfamiliar food choices, exposure to new allergens, bacteria and illnesses, time changes and jet lag, germy airplane rides, etc. There is also a 'vacation mentality' that allows us to throw all discipline out the window- because we can't really enjoy a vacation unless we are eating and drinking whatever we want, whenever we want it, right? In fact, the average person gains 5-10 pounds on a 7-day cruise and I'm sure that stats are the same for all-inclusive resorts.
Why is any of this important? Well, up to 90% of chronic diseases are caused by lifestyle factors and each bite is a step towards either health or disease, 80% of your immune system is in your gut (meaning what you eat is directly correlated to your immune defenses), proper lifestyle habits improve energy levels, concentration and productivity allowing you to take each destination by storm, the choices you make influence your risk of traveler's diarrhea and travel adds another level of stress to your body.
I don't know about you, but I like to feel energized and well when I travel and return home feeling refreshed, well rested and like I did my immune system a favor. You feel me? Well, this is the start of a series of posts about staying health while traveling. Travel does not have to weigh you down! There are 5 main components to staying healthy on the road: proper nutrition, regular exercise, adequate sleep, hydration and stress management. Each of these components will be covered in a separate post. Whether you are a full-time traveling digital nomad or a long-weekend vaca aficionado, managing these five components are possible! Stay tuned to get my top tips on how to do so. First up later this week- nutrition on the road.