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Do Jet Lag Diets Work?

Posted on February 16, 2022 by Peter Rogers

Perhaps the best know anti jet lag diet is the Argonne Diet, developed at the Argonne National Laboratory in 1982. Through the years thousands of people have downloaded copies of the diet online and it's reputed to have been employed by an impressive list of people including the late President Ronald Regan, the US Secret Service, the CIA and the US Army and Navy. In addition, it's purported to have been employed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Canadian swim team.

However, when you realize that the only evidence to support the efficacy of the diet is a research conducted by the US military, this list of'fans' does not perhaps seem quite so impressive.

On the surface the US military research does appear to support the efficacy of the diet, although the report (published in 2002) pointed out a number of issues with the research and stated that"larger and better controlled studies will need to be employed to check the usefulness of the Argonne diet".

Perhaps the biggest problem with this study nevertheless lies in the reasoning behind the research and at the group of individuals employed for the study.

The US military deploy hundreds of thousands of troops around the world each year and jet lag has a significant impact upon their operations. Preventing jet lag is thus something of a priority issue. But, curing jet lag with this scale can also be a very costly business and so searching for a simple, inexpensive, convenient and readily available alternative, with few if any side-effects was essential. It's not perhaps surprising therefore that they concentrated their attention of the prospect of using a diet as nothing could be easier, or cheaper, to execute. It also represented a natural remedy, without any of the emotional or medical problems so often associated with the usual pills or injections.

Perhaps more significant though was that the group chosen for the analysis. Participants were taken out of 186 National Guard personnel being deployed to Korea. Of these, 95 used the diet on the outbound leg of this journey and 39 used the diet coming home.

Two questions appear to arise here.

The first question is whether or not results observed at a group of National Guard personnel could reasonably be expected to appear in the general traveling population. I believe most people would agree that this can hardly be said to be a representative sample.

The next issue is why only 39 people volunteered to test the diet on the return home when 95 individuals had used the diet on the outbound journey. Certainly, if those using it to the installation had found it successful then you'd expect more than 41 percent of these to have wanted to use it again coming home.

These concerns are of course important but perhaps the real question that we should be asking is why a diet ought to be effective at all as a jet lag treatment.

Jet lag results in the inability of your body to adjust its internal clock fast enough to bring it into line with local time when traveling. By way of example, when you arrive at your destination and the clock says it nine o'clock in the morning and time to start the day's work, your internal body clock may still be reading two o'clock in the morning (time back home) and telling you that you should be in bed.

So just how is a diet designed to help solve this small issue?

Well, the easy answer of course is that it can't. Yes, what you eat and drink can play a part in helping your body to overcome the effects of jet lag and can assist in reducing jet lag symptoms. Diet, however, is just one small component in the equation for solving the problems of jet lag and just making some adjustment to what you eat and drink before, during and after your trip, along with other preventative measures, is all that is necessary.

Fixing jet lag through using so-called anti jet lag diets is a wonderful idea, but, unfortunately, it is fantasy rather than reality.