Episode #524: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling, with Dr. Uche OdiatuJan 13, 2023
Traveling can take its toll. If you want to stay healthy while you're on the road, you need great habits and a positive mindset. To help you be your best no matter where you are, Kirk Behrendt brings back Dr. Uche Odiatu, the fitness guru, to share some simple tips you can try on your next trip or vacation. To learn the best secrets for before, during, and after your flight, listen to Episode 524 of The Best Practices Show!
- Dr. Odiatu’s website: http://www.druche.com
- Dr. Odiatu’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UcheOdiatu
- Dr. Odiatu’s social media: @fitspeakers
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Links Mentioned in This Episode:
Brown University sleep study: https://www.brown.edu/news/2016-04-21/sleep https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdfExtended/S0960-9822(16)30174-9
Dr. Andrew Huberman’s light study: https://hubermanlab.com/using-light-sunlight-blue-light-and-red-light-to-optimize-health
The Mind-Gut Connection by Dr. Emeran Mayer: https://emeranmayer.com/book
Jim Rohn: https://www.jimrohn.com
Albert Schweitzer: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1952/schweitzer/biographical
Dr. John Demartini: https://web.drdemartini.com/the-breakthrough-experience-houston-nov-2022
Chicago Midwinter: https://www.cds.org/midwinter-meeting
A good travel experience starts with mindset.
Bring travel-friendly food that is good for your microbiome.
Hydration is key for overall health. Bring a water bottle with you.
Motion is lotion. Don't stay cramped on long flights or long commutes.
Adjust for sleep changes in new environments so you can still be well-rested.
“Many people lose it when they get away from home base. It’s drive-throughs, it’s fast-food, it’s airport food, and they show up a little worn around the edges, not their best.” (3:01—3:11)
“Almost all success, in any endeavor, starts with the mindset. People think, ‘I hate traveling. Ugh. I don't know why I booked such an early flight. Ugh. I can't stand it. I always write off the first day going anywhere. I always write off the day coming back.’ They start off already behind the eight ball. They're already defeated before they leave. So, I have a mantra. I say these words: I love travel. Travel loves me. I love travel. Travel loves me.” (5:04—5:27)
“I see all these people on Facebook complaining about their delay, their missed flights, their cancelled flights and, ‘Oh, look at me. I'm stuck with 17 people in this row. There's a guy vaping beside me and someone with a comfort dog.’ Well, that's your experience. A different way to experience it is, set the tone for enjoyment. I love travel. Travel loves me. And the universe, or a god, or the energy field somehow brings to you better experiences that will align with your expectation. Some people expect to be late. They expect to be tired. They expect to have someone [without] good hygiene beside them. They expect not to get upgraded. So, it starts with mindset. I love travel. Travel loves me. That's not a guarantee, but what I do is I stack the deck in favor of having a better travel experience. That's the way you start off — mindset.” (5:27—6:12)
“The day before, I bring stuff with me so I'm not always struggling for food. I bring something called miso soup. Miso soup is prepackaged. You just add hot water. So, even at an airline that doesn't serve food, like Southwest, I get a little cup. I can get hot water and mix up my miso soup inside. Miso soup is cheap. You can get four packets for about four, five, six dollars online. It’s a fermented food, great for the microbiome, which helps you have a better circadian rhythm change experience. I'll bring green tea with me. Coffee, sometimes . . . More coffee for me is like throwing dynamite on a napalm bomb. I don't need as much caffeine as most people, so green tea is good. A little bit less caffeine, tons of antioxidants. So, I bring my own.” (6:59—7:46)
“Traveling internationally, you can't bring nuts and seeds and fruit with you. That's not something unless you're traveling in your own country. I go across the border quite a bit, so I can't bring fruit. I can't bring nuts because customs will take it away. You can't bring seeds. Heaven forbid, if you threw an almond out and it grew into an almond bush in Arizona. So, that being said, miso soup and green tea is a must for me.” (7:59—8:19)
“I bring an empty container for water because you can't bring water, obviously, through security. But I do know once you get across, they now actually sell filtered water. So, it’s good for the environment [to bring your own bottle]. But also, now, instead of spending six dollars a bottle for some of these designer brands of water, I get filtered water at any number of different water fountains in the airport. So, that's a pretty good thing. Also, in the fitness room. Again, if people want to buy water, they can spend the five, six, seven, eight dollars, FIJI Water and Evian water. But the fitness room, it’s free. You get filtered water in the fitness room. I can fill this one liter or one quart bottle up. So, I bring an empty bottle with me. That allows me to stay hydrated, because dehydration is a big part of lacking good travel instruments.” (8:20—9:05)
“When I check in, I always ask, ‘Where is the fitness room?’ I love being on the same floor. They’ve shown, it’s called geographic success. Most dentists know about geographic success. Geographic success for most dentists is, you do a big case on a patient, and they move a week later, and now they're in Osaka, or now they're in Seattle. But geographic success, for me, when I check in, is I get to be on the same floor as their fitness facility, or very close. So, now, I can pop in and out a lot easier than if it’s in a different hotel tower. So, when I go in, I want to see if I can be in the same tower or on the same floor. And all I'm doing is stacking the deck in favor of being closer towards the gym.” (9:38—10:15)
“There was a study at Brown University. It was a study shown in Cell Reports, 2018. They’ve actually shown the first night in a new bed, anywhere, your brain, half of it stays hypervigilant. And you're thinking, how is that possible? Why would I? Well, at a certain level, you're used to sleeping in your own bed, your Sleep Number. You've got the king size. You've got the servants waving palms at the family. When you're in a new bedroom or a new hotel, what happens is your brain thinks, ‘Hey, there could be danger here.’ It’s a primitive, primordial failsafe feature that's part of our DNA. So, for the last million years, any time a caveman or cavewoman is in a new place to sleep, the brain stays hypervigilant, ‘There could be danger here.’ So, you might think you're sleeping, but you're not sleeping as deep as you would the second night.” (11:19—12:09)
“Any time you sleep deeper, you're more lucid, better memory, more emotionally engaged, more EQ, emotional intelligence. It’s always profound.” (12:27—12:35)
“A better-rested brain has better connection to past associations, left and right brain coherence. You're more energetically ready for the day.” (12:47—12:56)
“If you're fit already, if you travel well-rested, if you love lecturing, if you are happy at home, if you travel well on the plane, you arrive hydrated, you have good nutritional status, you can actually weather the storm of going to a lobby bar and having a drink, do the entertaining, then go to the [hotel] room. But most people are sleep-deprived, continuously. They're challenged at home. Their work is challenging. They don't have good habits at home. They don't exercise. So, they're high-performance race cars that get regular fuel, regular oil, and they arrive behind the eight ball. But if you're already in fit shape, you can actually weather the storm of a lobby drink, with good intentions and not overdoing it.” (14:20—15:03)
“No matter what your age, your muscles have no idea how old you are.” (17:34—17:37)
“Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist out of California, talks about early morning sun, before noon, awakens or helps reset your superchiasmatic nucleus and helps to reengage that primitive, caveman, prehistoric part of us that likes daylight first thing in the morning.” (18:25—18:40)
“Our muscles have no idea how old we are. The only thing they know is that we move a lot, which is youthful, or we sit a lot, which is accelerated aging. So, if you're a high mover, whether it’s step count or physical activity, your muscles, all they know is, ‘Kirk is a teenager. Kirk is youthful. Kirk is youthful.’ If you sit a lot, and you get up after watching three seasons of Sons of Anarchy, and all of a sudden you're like, ‘Whoa,’ you feel stiff — most people expect to be stiff and sore and clogged. But it doesn't have to be that way. The science says muscles have no idea how old we are.” (20:45—21:18)
“70% of our waking time is spent sitting. I often try and do my Zoom calls standing. So, that might be the next thing, to elevate our desks. I'm sitting in this room where I can get Wi-Fi today, but I'm all about standing more often. There’s an enzyme called LPL, lipoprotein lipase, and the gene for it is 10 times more active when you're standing. And lipoprotein lipase takes sugar and fat out of the bloodstream into the working muscles, and it’s about 100 calories more every three hours that you're using just by standing. So, I'm a firm believer in standing more. I alternate my standing and sitting when I'm working with patients. My re-care exams, I'd rather stand and do them and crank up the chair. So, I do my exams standing. It makes me look more energetic. I look more alive. I think differently when I'm standing. More oxygen to the brain. So, that being said, sitting is the new smoking.” (21:24—22:10)
“They’ve also said that motion is lotion. Arthritis, joint pain, and inflammation hits about 45 to 50 million Americans. Arthritis, stiff joints, inflamed joints. Well, cartilage has very little blood supply. What they need, though, to get increased circulation of good nutrition and take away the toxins, is good movement. Synovial fluid pumps harder when the joints are moving. So, motion is lotion means the more you move, the more greased your joints are. That's pretty powerful. Motion is lotion.” (22:11—22:46)
“No excuses when it comes to fitness. If I'm in the mood to work out and I think, ‘Oh, I have no shoes,’ or, ‘I only want carry-on. I don't want to fit shoes in,’ I'll go downstairs in black, shiny dress shoes. I'll go down in tuxedo pants and leather shoes. Who cares? I'll never see these people again. If anything, when you walk into a gym with shorts on and black dress shoes, the gym empties. ‘Who the heck is this freak?’ Now, I have all the equipment to myself. So, I'll work out in dress shoes. I'll work out in flip flops — which aren't the safest. I've never worked out in bare feet before, but I don't care. I'll never see these people again. What will people say? ‘Who are they? Who are they?’ So, I talk about it all the time — no excuses. I've gone to the gym in jeans and a tank top. Why not?” (23:09—23:47)
“They’ve actually shown a lot of circadian rhythm disruption is simply because our bacteria — which have no eyes, but they do have a consciousness — know we’re off our schedule. So, if normally you go to the bathroom first thing in the morning, guess what? Now, you're going to the bathroom at 2:00 in the morning. Your bacteria goes, ‘What are you doing? What's going on?’ Now, the bacteria is thinking, ‘Hey, do I make serotonin now? Do I help pump out these neurotransmitters? Or do I have this person still asleep?’ The person is awake. Usually, they're asleep at 2:00 a.m. Probiotics help bring harmony to the microbiome.” (24:21—24:54)
“People often overpromise what probiotics can do. Scientifically, they’ve shown probiotics can help with antibiotic disruption with the microbiome. After someone takes amoxicillin for 10 days, or penicillin for seven days, or clindamycin, which is one of the more challenging ones, antibiotics have also been shown to increase stability and diversity to the microbiome. It doesn't give you free range on pop, tequila, stay up all night and listen to Def Leppard. You've still got to do all the good habits. People often think, ‘Uche, I've tried probiotics for four days. It did nothing for me.’ Well, you hate your job. You're a shift worker. You don't exercise, and you eat Pop-Tarts. So, taking probiotics without doing the fundamentals is like throwing fertilizer on your driveway, and there's no seed or soil. You need seed and soil. The seed and soil is good sleep, loving your job, and a good diet. Then, probiotics can plus you.” (24:55—25:40)
“On the road, if you have a reasonably good diet, probiotics help to balance out the microbiome, which they’ve shown now is a big part of circadian rhythm disruption. But you're thinking, ‘Uche, the large intestine is far from the penial gland.’ Well, guess what? These bacteria are responsible for 40% of the 500,000 circulating metabolites in the body. This is actually from a gastroenterologist, Emeran Mayer, author of The Mind-Gut Connection. Your microbiome is responsible for 40% of the 500,000 circulating metabolites in your body. So, if they're feeling disrupted, unwell, if they're away from their time zone, if there's light-dark cycle disruption, guess what? Your mind is impacted. So, to have these microbiomes happy, you need a better functioning physiology and neurology.” (25:41—26:25)
“Sitting on a plane, anything in a confined space — so, say you didn't get the upgrade, you're not at the exit row, you're not in premium economy, so you're stuck in that smaller regular seat — crossing your legs makes it worse. You're already cramped, and now you're cutting off circulation. It doesn't mean you can't cross your legs. Just don't have them crossed for an extended period of time.” (27:28—27:45)
“I never get a window seat. I never get the middle seat. I always get the aisle. The only time I get a window seat is when I'm doing a red-eye [flight]. Because in a red-eye, I don't want to be disturbed. So, I make sure I have no liquids two hours before the red-eye. I have my noise-cancellation headphones. I have earplugs, orange glasses before I go, a sleep mask so I don't see all the lights and pings and the person moving next to me. Then, I'll sit at the window seat for the overnight flight. However, all of the flights, I want aisle. That way, I have more room. I can get up and down. I get up at least every 45 minutes to an hour.” (27:46—28:14)
“They’ve actually shown that we sleep best and deepest when it’s about 65, 66 degrees, which is a little chilly for some people. But having it at 71, 72, 73 at nighttime, we don't sleep well when it’s hot. Cooler is better.” (29:26—29:39)
“If you're on your own, or you have the agreement of your partner, 65 to 66 degrees has been shown by neuroscientists that you get the deepest sleep. Cold outside the room, warm under the covers. And they’ve shown people who have insomnia often have elevated body temperatures than people who sleep deeply.” (29:48—30:06)
“There are so many different hacks to be healthier. People think, ‘Oh, I don't like cold showers.’ You can still be healthy not taking cold showers. How about an infrared sauna? If that's your sticking point — if you're exercising, you're loving your job, loving your relationships, and eating healthy, an infrared sauna is not going to make or break you. I only do lukewarm showers. Big deal. Wim Hof, The Iceman, makes it sound like if you're not doing cold showers, you're going to die early. A lot of fitness fanatics make fitness sound so complicated.” (31:05—31:34)
“Elite experts always make it sound like, ‘You've got to do everything.’ Oh, really? Now, you've made the wagon so high, people are falling off the wagon all the time. My fitness, my nutrition, my wellness wagon is low. So, if I fall off, I can get back on easy. Because most of life is off balance. It’s not so perfect.” (31:40—31:57)
“They’ve even shown cold water on your face helps you sleep deeper. So, you don't have to immerse yourself in an ice bath. But if someone was very sick, or they were competing in a decathlon, or a LeBron James during the championships, then I would say dot the I’s and cross the T’s. But a cold shower, it’s called a hormetic effect. So, at the end of your shower, turn down the water a bit so it’s not so hot. Maybe make it warm. And for you, that could be your cold shower that day. So, don't think that you have to do everything perfectly to do this thing called a fit life.” (32:06—32:37)
“America’s business philosopher, Jim Rohn, said that when you're on vacation, think vacation. Don't think about the office. When you're at the office, don't think, ‘I really should take a vacation,’ that you're never really present.” (33:58—34:07)
“If you spend a lot of time doing work on vacation, you're definitely sapping the vibe of that vacation time. It’s not really vacation.” (34:18—34:24)
“Albert Schweitzer, the humanitarian anthropologist, said the best teacher is role modeling. So, instead of telling people what to do at home, and telling your friends, and having chats about BMI, organic food, keto, and paleo in the lobby bar, lecturing to your buddies, live it.” (35:07—35:21)
“One of the most successful diets ever that the AMA acknowledged, the American Medical Association, is the Mediterranean diet. It’s not just about food, it’s the fact that they don't argue at the dinner table. Keep the conversation, while you're eating, light. No sex, drugs, religion, politics at the dinner table. When you get angry, right away, the digestion slows. The wrong acids get made to digest carbohydrates and protein. So, a big part of the Mediterranean diet is simply having a peaceful conversation.” (38:31—38:56)
“I don't know how many people apologize for being older. In Okinawa, in Costa Rica, Icaria, and Loma Linda, California, they honor their wise elders. There's a certain regality or royalness to being 70, 80, 90 years of age. ‘Oh, that's him. He’s 90 now. Hey, that octogenarian is coming. My centenarian is coming.’ So, when you honor wise elders, you don't apologize for it, and you look forward to it. Enjoy your youth, but then enjoy being 60, 70, 80, 90.” (38:57—39:26)
“If you have a bad travel experience, why share it 32 times on Facebook and relive everyone else’s sad sack? John Demartini, out of Houston, Texas, said that if you're continuously putting your dirty shirt in clean water, sure, when you first put it in and you take it out, it’s not that much cleaner. But the more you stick it in, the more you get like your environment.” (40:53—41:15)
“If you're a dentist who doesn't know about probiotics, if you're a hygienist that knows nothing about nutritional wellness, or if you don't feel empowered to talk whole-body health — patients are starving for the total-health conversation. Without it, you're working as a tooth mechanic. You start learning about whole-body health, you now become an oral physician. You now become a complete healthcare provider. And this is what the public wants. They don't want to go to 17 different doctors. They want to see how connected you are to the whole body.” (43:14—43:38)
2:06 Dr. Odiatu’s background.
4:45 Success starts with mindset.
6:14 Pre-flight travel secrets.
9:07 Geographic success.
11:01 The first-night effect.
13:06 Make the road your friend.
16:37 Get some sun.
19:08 Muscles don't know your age.
21:19 Motion is lotion.
22:49 You can work out wearing anything.
23:48 The importance of taking probiotics.
26:50 Seating tips for planes.
29:10 Optimal temperature for sleep.
30:53 Are cold showers better for you?
33:21 When you're on vacation, think vacation.
35:06 The best teacher is role modeling.
35:44 Dr. Odiatu’s favorite travel destinations.
37:57 Honor your elders.
39:50 Beach or adventure?
40:45 Last thoughts on staying healthy while traveling.
42:27 How to get in touch with Dr. Odiatu.
Dr. Uche Odiatu Bio:
Dr. Odiatu has a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine). He is a professional member of the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), a Certified Personal Trainer (National Strength & Conditioning Association) NSCA, and the Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals (canfitpro). He is the co-author of The Miracle of Health (c) 2009 John Wiley (hardcover) & (c) 2015 Harper Collins, and has lectured in Canada, the USA, the Caribbean, the UK, and Europe. He is an invited guest on over 400 TV and radio shows, from ABC 20/20, Canada CTV AM, Breakfast TV, to Magic Sunday Drum FM in Texas. This high-energy healthcare professional has done over 450 lectures in seven countries over the last 15 years.