When it comes to travelling, the last thing we want (other than perhaps some lost luggage) is to feel a cold or the flu coming on. Nothing ruins a weekend getaway or a jaunt through Europe more than a stuffy nose, headache and chills. Unfortunately planes can be a breeding ground for pesky germs, as can hotels, taxis and trains. Throw in the fact that your body is out of whack with a time change, and the chances of catching the latest bug going around increases dramatically while travelling. Thankfully there are some ways to help prevent illness while travelling that are not only effective, but also healthy for you too. And even better, these tips from NYC-based nutritionist Barbara Mendez not only help prevent, but can make a cold or flu disappear faster if you do happen to catch something.
Prevent before you go: Diet
Everyone knows a balanced diet will help keep you healthy and ward off any viruses, but eating healthy food high in antioxidants and cold-fighting vitamins will increase your odds even more. “The best foods would be those rich in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids (like Beta-Carotene), so think foods that are red, orange, yellow…. carrots, beets, yams etc.” explains Mendez. To get the most of all these antioxidants, Mendez has a tip. “Make or get a fresh juice drink with carrots, beet and ginger. It’s delicious and great at boosting immune function. Ginger is also great as a tea to help fight colds and flu and is available in tea bags which you can take on the flight.” But even with being as healthy as you can be, you might still need an extra boost, or supplements. “In addition to the vitamin C, I recommend a supplement called Olive Leaf Extract that can be taken either at the first sign of cold and flu,” suggests Mendez. “If you tend towards a weak immune function and get sick often, then you may want to also take one Olive Leaf while on the flight every 3 hours or so along with the vitamin C.”
Prevent before you go: Rest
One of the number one causes of a weakened immune system? Lack of sleep. Getting a good amount of rest before and during a trip may seem easier said than done, but it will make a huge difference. “I make sure I get adequate sleep, I eat a light meal the night before (if it is an early flight) or eat lightly throughout the day before going. I stay hydrated as well and I take my supplements. I also try and sleep on the plane,” explains Mendez.
Prevent at the airport
“Drink water, eat lightly such as salads, fruit, a hard boiled egg,” suggests Mendez. “You might want to consider getting packets of almond butter, which can easily be put on bananas or apples as a quick snack. Bring rice crackers with you that you can scoop tuna or hummus with. Avoid alcohol. Get rest.”
Prevent on the plane
“The most effective suggestion I offer my clients is to have them take Ester C (vitamin C) 1000mg every two to three hours during the flight. Take the first before you get on board and then another every two to three hours until you land. Works every time.”
What to avoid
Ok, we know what we should be getting into our bodies, but does Mendez have any tips on what to avoid? “Absolutely — sugar! It weakens immune function. Definitely avoid alcohol as it is dehydrating and can weaken your immunity as well. Avoid dairy which is hard to digest, constipating and creates mucous in the body and mucous can trap bacteria and give rise to a cold.”
“The arsenal I recommend to my clients include vitamin C and Olive Leaf. I also will suggest they take Oscillococcinum with them. Oscillo is a homeopathic remedy that, if taken at the first sign of the flu, can eradicate the flu entirely. The trick is, taking at the first sign of flu, when you begin to feel weak, achy etc. Once you have a full-blown flu, it doesn’t work. But if you tend towards catching everything everyone around you has, then you can take Oscillo prophylactically like every 10 days or so.”