As we head into the conference and travel season we thought it was time to give some tips to hopefully keep you from having dinner in reverse, to help you tame the mucus dragon, to prevent your lungs from exiting your chest via your trachea, to…well, you probably get it. Here’s a short list of tips we hope will keep you in top condition while you’re on the road.
1. Accept that immune boosters are basically a lie
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Dr. Christopher Sanford, Associate Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington, stated that “Your immune system doesn’t zoom up or down in response to short-term interventions.” So, that whole isle at the drug store of products promising to be your force field against the germs of your airplane seat mate do pretty much nothing for you.
2. Eating right is key
It’s tempting to fill up on carbs (because bread, right?) when you’re on the road, but travelers have to balance that with protein and raw fruits and vegetables. Protein helps the body to resist infection. Rick Steves, travel guru extraordinaire, recommends eating protein with the largest meal of the day in order to get the most “mileage” out of it. Eating raw fruits and veggies is also beneficial because it provides our bodies with the necessary vitamins and minerals without being diluted by cooking or processed into vitamins.
*Note: Raw fruits and veggies are not the best choice in developing nations unless they’ve been washed with soap and properly-sealed bottled water.
3. Exercise even though you don’t want to
*Insert big sigh here* Yeah, yeah. While it’s not always easy, exercising will help you keep up your energy levels. Exercising while travelling on business can be a hassle, but by at least standing up and walking for several minutes every hour or so you can help to avoid circulatory issues. There are also a bunch of exercises you can do in your hotel room. You can do it! We believe in you.
4. Be smart with medication
The FDA recommends that travelers not purchase medication while abroad without consulting a competent health care professional. Also, to avoid any issues with customs, keep prescriptions and over-the-counter meds in their original packaging. It’s also a good idea to pack a couple of extra doses in case of unexpected travel delays.
5. Sleep is magical
Okay, it’s not a unicorn or going to win you a letter to the wizarding school of your choice, but sleep is absolutely essential to brain function and immune health. So much so that getting the recommended 7-9 hours of uninterrupted, glorious shut-eye can improve alertness, memory, ability to learn, problem solving skills, creativity and decision making — so says the NIH. The NIH also says that sleep is important for healing and repairing the heart and blood vessels, balancing hormones and strengthens your immune system to make it better equipped to fight off infection.
6. Make liberal use of antibacterial products
Wash your hands with warm soap and water often to help keep bacteria and viruses at bay. If soap and water aren’t easily handy (yes, we like our puns) then liquid or foam hand sanitizers are a good alternative. Avoid touching high-traffic germ surfaces after you disinfect (like bathroom door handles and airplane seatbelts/trays/armrests). Antibacterial wipes can also be extremely helpful for air travel, rental cars and phones. Disinfect your phone. Often. Think about where that thing has been because you put it on your face.
7. More water, less booze
It’s easy to forget to hydrate when you travel. You’re busy. Margaritas are delicious. However, it’s extremely important to drink plenty of water and limit your alcohol intake if you’re trying to stay healthy. Livestrong.com has a great article about the link between alcohol (and caffeine) and dehydration. Suffice it to say, alcohol is not good for conserving water. Alcohol can also suppress the immune system. An article published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism stated that “an overwhelming amount of evidence reveals that both acute and chronic alcohol exposure suppresses all branches of the immune system, including early responses to infection.” A suppressed immune system is definitely a bad thing when trying to stay healthy.
So, that’s our short list. Hopefully you’ve gotten some good tips and you’ll be able to stay fit and fabulous out there in the great, wide world.
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