As eager as many of us are to travel, there’s no denying that it often comes with its challenges; the initial stress of making reservations; packing and leaving yourself plenty of time to get airports, and then finding the necessary energy to tackle that overloaded itinerary you crafted!
Eating healthy both before and during your travels will do wonders for keeping both your mind and body sharp, and one way to make sure you’re getting proper nutrition is to incorporate various superfoods into your diet.
You’ve likely heard about a number of popular superfoods including acai berries, avocados, kale, turmeric, and ginger among the line up of foods that are super-charged with health benefits.
Foods such as these which have garnered the title of being a superfood are often packed with healthy vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which can help to boost things like energy, focus, and stamina while also aiding your immune system to function as it should be.
Travel really can affect both your mental and physical health in substantial ways thanks to jetlag and adjusting to new time zones, falling into new sleep and eating patterns, exhaustion, and being exposed to new allergens and pathogens.
In order to give your body and mind the best chance of staying healthy, stick to a well balanced diet and try incorporating some of these lesser-known superfoods you may not be familiar with the next time you travel.
4 Superfoods to Take Before and During Your Next Trip Abroad
Relax with Reishi Mushrooms
While many people travel as a way to escape the everyday stresses in their normal lives, the sad fact is that travel itself is rarely stress-free. In addition to practicing things like mindfulness and yoga, there are several supplements and foods that promote stress and anxiety reduction.
One such “superfood” that can aid with stress relief is reishi mushrooms which are said to support relaxation and better prepare your body for restful sleep.
They have long been used in Eastern medicine and mushrooms in general contain unusually high amounts of antioxidants such as ergothioneine and glutathione which may protect cells from being damaged by certain diseases such as cancer.
The best part about this travel superfood is that you can easily buy reishi mushrooms in powdered form. They come in travel-sized sachets or canisters which allow you to mix the healthy mushroom powder into your beverage of choice whether that’s a milkshake, tea, or coffee.
Reishi mushroom powder and extracts are now turning up in a wide range of products including face and body creams, shower gels, and even in chocolates.
But it’s when they’re consumed that they really seem to shine, offering up triterpenoids, polysaccharides, peptidoglycans, beneficial dietary fiber, and amino acids.
Support Your Immune System with Chaga
Travel and especially flying have been shown to have a negative effect on many people’s immune systems, which often makes it easier to get sick. But one way to get added immune system support is with chaga.
Much like reishi mushrooms, chaga is a fungus but this time hailing from the world’s far north regions in places like Russia, Alaska, Canada, and Northern Europe.
Chaga grows on the bark of birch trees and has been used by natives of Alaska and other northerly regions for centuries. It has now become more mainstream, usually being ground into powders, added to tea bags, or made into capsule form.
Chaga is said to aid your immune system by stimulating white blood cells, whose job it is to fight harmful viruses and bacteria. Some studies also show it can reduce long-term inflammation and keep infections at bay.
In addition to this traditional medicine offering potential immune system benefits, chaga is also said to help lower cholesterol and help manage diabetes, being a generally overall healthy additive to your diet since it’s low in calories, high in fiber, and loaded with antioxidants and vitamins.
Get a Second Wind with Maca Powder
Many travelers resort to coffee to keep them going while travelling, but what if I told you there was a caffeine-free alternative to that latte or cappuccino?
Enter an earthy and nutty flavored vegetable from Peru called Maca. Maybe this is what gave Paddington Bear the energy he needed for his adventures around London, Paddington of course being from the jungles of Peru if you were unaware.
Often called the “Peruvian ginseng”, this cruciferous vegetable (fancy term for vege within the broccoli and kale family) is most often dried into powdered form but can also be found as a liquid extract.
Maca powder’s flavor tends to pair well with sweet treats like smoothies, various baked goods, or a sweetened oatmeal. It’s said to fight fatigue and enhance endurance, whic is why athletes use it as a popular supplement.
As an added bonus, maca powder is also thought to give you more energy in the bedroom, increasing libido in both men and women. Perfect if you’re planning a honeymoon getaway or catching up with your long distance partner.
Stay Focused on Your Journey with Lion’s Mane
Back to talking about super-mushrooms, now it’s time to highlight lion’s mane.
Not to be confused with one of the world’s largest jellyfish species going by the same name which has 120-foot stinging tentacles which you definitely don’t want to eat, lion’s mane mushrooms offer well-documented anti-inflammatory effects.
These rather furry-looking white mushrooms may not be the same as their jellyfish counterpart, but they ironically are said to have a seafood-like flavor somewhat similar to cheap lobster or crab meat.
The mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked, but many opt for extracts sold as OTC health supplements.
Lion’s mane studies have shown promising results when it comes to stimulating brain cell growth and may offer protection against progressive memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to improving mental functioning, the mushrooms are also said to reduce your heart disease risk and relive mild anxiety and depression.
Before You Feast
It’s important to note that you should always talk to your doctor before incorporating new superfoods into your diet, especially before traveling in case of unforeseen side effects.
Often, new trendy superfoods and supplements only base their evidence on limited human studies so results may not always work for you.
Adding supplements into your diet may also cause harmful side effects when paired with certain medications. Supplements and superfoods are not to act as a replacement to a well balanced diet, rather to act as an enhancement to an already healthy lifestyle.
Remember, your best line of defense against many illnesses is getting the recommended travel immunizations / vaccinations along with proper sleep and exercise. However, adding a few of these superfoods into your travel diet before and during your trip may give you that extra edge to stay healthy and active during your travels.
Just remember to check your travel destination’s customs and border regulations to make sure the supplements and foods you plan on bringing into the country with you will be allowed in.
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Very informative article for these superfoods. Thanks Megan.
I use regularly Reishi mushroom and Maca (especially on long treks in the mountain), but I didn’t know you can find Maca in liquid form. Do you know a brand that provides it?
Chaga and Lion’s mane was unknown to me, and I will look into it in more details to see if it suits me.
Thanks again Megan.
Hi Lara, I believe you can get Maca in liquid form at iHerb :)
Very interesting post you reviewed four superfoods I was not aware of and can’t wait to try especially for our upcoming summer tour of six national parks.
Glad we could introduce you to some new names Bryson – have a great summer tour :)