How to Boost Your Immune System so You Don't Get Sick While Traveling
Anyone who travels enough has experienced the misery of being sick while on vacation or a business trip. Getting sick is a part of everyday life and the fact is the more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to pick up a nasty cold, bug or illness.
Some things are unavoidable no matter what steps you take to prevent them, but you may be able to avoid catching the flu from your coughing seatmate or sneezing travel companion with this easy-to-follow formula I've been using for years. Make it a part of your daily routine at home and on the road to reduce your chances of getting sick while you travel.
Commit to a Healthy Lifestyle
Your first, and most important, line of defense against getting sick is your lifestyle. Not smoking or drinking heavily, making sure you exercise, get enough sleep, and choose healthy foods will give you the best shot at reducing your chances of getting sick and will minimize the severity of it if you do.
Exercise strengthens your immune system by rejuvenating your cells and boosting your body's ability to fight off illness. Your heart, lungs and muscles are all made stronger by exercise. While there is considerable research ongoing to better understand why working out has a positive effect on the immune system, there is a clear correlation between activity level and healthiness.
Get Enough Sleep
Rest and recovery from workouts are also important, so be sure to maintain a balance between strenuous activity and rest. You should also prioritize sleep as often as possible, even if that means going out less (sorry!). The amount of sleep we need to be healthy varies from person to person, but a good target for most of us is seven hours a night.
Drink Fruit and Vegetable Juice
The food we eat may be the single most important factor for determining health, and the resilience of our immune system is directly tied to what we’re eating. Fruits and vegetables are extremely important, so make sure you’re getting a healthy serving of them at least once a day.
You can also consume them in juice form. If I feel myself coming down with something, the first thing I do is grab a green juice. But being proactive is important, so don’t wait until you’re getting sick. Drink one juice a day that consists mostly of green, leafy vegetables and you will enjoy the benefits of a stronger immune system. By consuming fruits and vegetables in juice form, you can also get more nutrients and enzymes than you would if you only ate them with your meals.
Use Supplements While Traveling
Supplements aren't always what they’re cracked up to be. There are plenty of scams and too much clever marketing. There is a case to be made, however, for supplementing certain vitamins to ensure your immune system is operating at peak strength, especially while traveling. On the road, it can be a lot harder to get the foods that you need to maintain a properly functioning immune system, and this is where supplements can play a huge role.
Vitamin C gets a lot of attention when it comes to immune system functioning, but research has shown that vitamin D may be even more important. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from food or sunlight, especially in the winter months, when the weather is poor, or while traveling to colder climates. Take a vitamin D supplement prior to leaving on your next trip and throw some in your carry-on to have with you on the road.
OK, you're getting your vitamin D, but that doesn't mean you should completely overlook vitamin C. Experts say that people under stress (think: travel) who take vitamin C are less likely to contract viral infections. Many road warriors swear by Emergen-C, the effervescent, travel-friendly powdered drink mix that now comes in an immune-boosting formula with 1,000mg of vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc. Drink it before and during your travelers to fight of sickness.
Another natural remedy you can try is oregano oil, which is thought to have antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that help ward off respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, fungal infections, yeast infections and digestive issues. You can find small bottles of highly concentrated oregano oil at your local health or natural food store. If you're taking it in liquid form, just be warned that the flavor is, well, intense. And no, sprinkling oregano flakes on a slice of airport pizza won't have the same effect.
Athletic Greens is a product that will make sure you're getting a full range of micronutrients while you're traveling. It contains whole food-sourced ingredients, including 22 essential vitamins and minerals, probiotics, digestive enzymes, natural extracts, herbs and antioxidants. So, what does that all mean? Basically, Athletic Greens will make sure your diet isn't missing any key nutrients, but it's not meant to stand in for an overall healthy diet. It’s a bit pricey (starting at $77 with a subscription) but is available in travel packs, and may be a smart option for travelers who know their diet falls apart on the road.
Chris Castellano is a travel fitness specialist and the founder of Fittest Travel. He recently self-published his first book, “Fit For Travel: Your Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great While Traveling.”