Lonely Planet Writer

Dr. Oz surprises passengers by sharing his flying hacks on a plane from Istanbul to JFK

Physician and TV celeb, Dr. Mehmet Oz, recently surprised passengers on a Turkish Airlines flight by making a “ta-dah” entrance and talking to passengers about how to stay healthy and happy on long flights. With camera crew in tow, Dr. Oz had guests drinking cherry juice, meditating, and shaking their butts to promote circulation in what is, most likely, the first ever, on-air TV show taped in the air.

Dr. Oz shares his flying hacks
Dr. Oz on flight TK01 from Istanbul to JFK. Photo courtesy of Turkish Airlines

Here is an inside look from flight TK01 from Istanbul to New York  at the doc’s top five ways to keep fit and fight jet lag on those dreaded long hauls.

1.  Shake your booty

Deep Vein Thrombosis is a real thing and there are three things that can be done to help prevent it: reach for water instead of wine; wear comfy clothes; and stretch by kneeling on your seat facing the back of the plane, wiggle your butt to get those muscles moving and then sit back on your heels to stretch your legs. People may point and laugh, but when they get a leg cramp in hour eight of the flight, who’s laughing now?

2. Getting an earful

Your poor little ear canal has a hard time adjusting to pressure changes during flight and there are a variety of techniques that can help. The Toynbee Maneuver has you swallow while pinching your nose and keeping your mouth closed. Your Eustachian tube opens and the excess air in your middle ear is drained into the nasal cavity. Another easy hack is to take an antihistamine the day of your flight.

3. Don’t toss your lunch

It doesn’t matter which cabin you are cooped up in, cruising altitude has us higher than most mountains on earth. Lower blood oxygen levels can cause fatigue, brain fog, headaches and dizziness. Gas expands in the body and swells your intestines, which interferes with gastric emptying. Nasty stuff. This, and the fact that cabin air has about 66% less water than sea level humidity, means that some passengers feel a little, or even a lot, queasy.  Your best bet is to keep up your water intake, preferably with some lemon to make it alkaline, avoid junk food, eating fast and carbonated beverages–sorry, sudsy beer lovers.

Dr. Oz shares flying health advice with cabin crew
Dr. Oz and cabin crew on flight TK0. Photo courtesy of Turkish Airlines

4. Keeping your cool

Research shows that meditation has an amazing effect on stress levels, depression and insomnia, but it can also lower blood pressure, improve immune function and, even if the flight is a long one and you’d prefer to forget it, increase memory capability. Meditating with music is an easy one to do in the air to rest those gray cells, actually changing the brain’s chemical activity. Do a little self-massage of your scalp, temples, arms and legs (cross your legs to work out the kinks in your hips and thighs), add a little positive self-talk, and you have a full-blown meditation on your hands.

5. Tuning up your internal clock

It’s hard to believe that we’ve only been jumping across time zones for the past 100 years or so. Our circadian rhythm is thrown off when we do, and our brains and bodies get confused about when it’s time to seize the day or hit the hay.

Simple hacks are to immediately change your watch to the destination time when you board and to stay up until your normal bedtime in the new time zone. Melatonin can help reset your body clock, too, and a glass of tart cherry juice has, according to Dr. Oz, the correct amount of melatonin in it. Most ones we pick up at the drugstore have too much (5-10 mg), and can give us a melatonin hangover.

Dr. Oz giving jet-lag tips to passenger on Turkish Airlines flight TK01
Dr. Oz poses with a passenger on flight TK01. Photo courtesy of Turkish Airlines

To defeat this nemesis of long-distance travellers everywhere, Dr. Oz enlisted the advice of Dr Steven Lockley, a researcher at Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine. Most of us have a harder time travelling east, and scheduling when we expose ourselves to light makes it easier to shift that internal clock. The general rule is this: when travelling east get some morning sunshine, and when going west, take in the dusky light. So, for instance, when flying from Istanbul to JFK (travelling west) you want to avoid light early in the day and bask in the evening glow in NYC. Wear sunglasses, even on board, to help you block out the unwelcome light. The bonus is you could be mistaken for a rock star.

Dr. Oz was invited onboard by Turkish Airlines as part of their “Fly Good, Feel Good” programme.