With the summer holiday season seemingly set to get underway after an enforced pause, how do we make sure we travel safely and healthily. Whether you are traveling via airports, trains, or cars, you’re likely going to come into contact with a lot of people, even though things are quieter these days.
What’s more traveling puts your body through stress which can weaken your immune defences. When you travel, without realising, your body is put through changes in air pressure, climate and temperature, not to mention the likely loss of sleep and the stresses of staying on schedule. Especially flying, can have a negative effect on your immune system, due to light and the impact on circadian rhythms. Nutrition and light are important environmental factors that directly regulate the immune response which means that if the body receives light at times it is not used to, because you are traveling to a different time zone, this can prevent the production of T-cells which help your immune system.
In order to make sure you can enjoy the journey, relax and travel in the knowledge your immune system is working optimally, we have put together this handy Triple H quick guide to give you easy to remember immune health travel hacks.
This is an obvious one we all know but seldom actually follow, as who doesn’t love a coffee or a cocktail at the airport. But did you know that the majority of air you breathe on a plane actually comes from outside the aircraft and that at the altitude we fly it is almost devoid of any moisture which can make us dehydrated. So, in order to stay hydrated and keep your immune system functioning optimally, avoid coffee and alcohol as a minimum. To go to the next level, make sure you drink plenty of water and even consider adding an electrolytes tablet to the bottle to make sure you replace the minerals that are lost.
We of course have been well versed in the benefits of good hygiene over the course of the pandemic and how it can reduce the spread of infection, so the same practices apply even more so in the case of travel.
Regular hand washing: The most well-established and proven way to prevent infections is frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water. Scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to help prevent the spread.
Hand sanitizer: When you can’t get to a sink to wash your hands, alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol can help to reduce the spread.
Face Masks: Face masks have been shown to be effective in reducing droplet transmission, so it is good practice to always wear one when travelling in busy places. Also remember to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Avoid touching your face: Avoid touching your face as much as possible. Harder than you might think when the average individual touches their face an average of 15 times per hour.
Health - top up immunity
Preventing some of the common pitfalls of travelling are key to a healthy journey but there are also several factors that can proactively taken to ensure you top up your immune system and ensure it is functioning optimally along the way. There are several foods, nutrients, and supplements that can help immune function.
Choose plants: the food choices you make at the airport can have a big impact on your immune system. Make sure you choose healthy options with a variety of vegetables and plants in order to ensure a good balance of micronutrients and fibre for the immune system. A handy tip if in the UK, visit either Pret or WH Smith and buy one of their on the go ginger shots for a quick boost.
Vitamin C: Every chemist or pharmacy in the airport should carry a simple effervescent vitamin C tablet. Buy these and add to your water. This vitamin serves important roles in the human body and contributes to the normal immune function.
Vitamin D: On the way to getting some all-important sunshine, it may be worth topping up with the vitamin itself. Numerous studies have shown that it is one of the most important and powerful nutrients for helping the immune system (references below).
Zinc: A mineral powerhouse, Zinc plays a role in over 18 bodily functions and is one of the most well researched minerals for the immune system and contributes to the normal function of immunity.
We of course never go anywhere without a few sachets of Tonic in our pocket to keep our immune system healthy. But we want everyone to be able to safely enjoy their holidays this summer, whether you have Tonic to hand or not. So, we hope our easy to remember Triple H travel methodology of Hydration, Hygiene, and Health will help you stay healthy and optimise that journey to keep your immune system in tip top shape.
Enjoy the summer and stay healthy,
Bergman P, Lindh AU, Björkhem-Bergman L, Lindh JD. Vitamin D and respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One. 2013;8(6):e65835. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065835
Common colds: protect yourself and others. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reviewed February 11, 2019. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html