Travelers have a host of pathogens to avoid this winter, including the “triple group” of infections caused by Covid-19, the flu, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).
But there are steps people can take to lower their chances of getting sick, Spanish health officials say. SA Health Clinic.
The key is to develop “a resilient immune system that can defend itself against attack by viruses and bacteria,” said Dr. Vicente Mera, head of SHA’s genomic medicine division.
“The most important thing is nutrition,” Mera said.
But drastic diets are not necessary, he added. Travelers can simply eat whole, plant-based foods, which can help reduce inflammation, he says.
The fiber in plant foods also helps the gut microbiome “fight pathogens that enter or are activated through the digestive tract,” he said.
Dr. Vicente Mera, Melanie Waksman and Philippa Harvey from SHA Wellness Clinic in Alicante, Spain.
Source: SHA Health Clinic.
A nutrient-dense diet is the top recommendation of Melanie Waxman, holistic nutritionist and nutrition coach at SHA Wellness Clinic.
That means eating “lots of vegetables, whole grains, fresh herbs, beans, sea vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and fermented foods,” she said.
What to take on the plane
Waxman said travelers should snacking on alkaline foods to combat acidity, which usually occurs during air travel. She recommended the following foods that are easy to pack:
- Fried Nori Snacks: »Great for travel as they are lightweight and easy to carry around in small packages. Nori is an alkaline food and is a good source of vitamin C as well as omega-3 fatty acids, protein and minerals.”
- instant miso soup: “Contains all the essential amino acids…and restores beneficial probiotics in the gut…great for flights and hotel rooms as you only need to add boiling water to a sachet.”
- Spirulina Powder: “Packed with calcium and protein. It has a high content of chlorophyll… especially useful after spending many hours in the cabin. The flavor can be strong, so add it to a refreshing vegetable juice… [or take] like a capsule.
- Plum balls: “A great travel companion as they are highly alkaline, full of minerals that help increase energy, improve digestion, boost immunity and improve liver function… the balls come in a container and are easy to pack in your hand luggage.”
Fermented plums, called umeboshi in Japanese, can be added to a cup of tea on an airplane. It’s “a very acidic plum that’s been fermented for at least three years,” says Melanie Waxman of the SHA Wellness Clinic.
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Waksman recommends drinking one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with a glass of water before breakfast. Vinegar is “a powerful immune booster…full of probiotics,” she said.
For breakfast, a “wonderful” option is oatmeal. Topped with berries, chia seeds and flax seeds, she says.
“Oats actually help the body produce melatonin more naturally,” she said. “Oats contain amino acids, potassium, B vitamins, magnesium, and complex carbohydrates…the berries are rich in vitamin C, and the seeds provide additional omega-3s and protein.”
To combat jet lag, Waksman recommends taking more vitamin C.
She recommends eating sauerkraut both before and after a flight. “Cabbage fermentation leads to a dramatic increase in vitamin C and antioxidant levels,” she said.
Fresh vegetable juice is also great for immunity and jet lag recovery, she says.
According to Mer, sleep and immunity are closely linked.
“Restful sleep strengthens natural immunity,” he said, adding that poor quality or quantity of sleep increases the chances of getting sick.
People who sleep less than six hours a night, or 40 hours a week, on average, are at “serious risk of disease,” he said.
Moderate exercise strengthens the immune system, according to Mehr.
But “30 minutes a day is more than enough,” he said. “Prolonged intense exercise can suppress the immune system.”
According to Dr. Vicente Mera, head of genomic medicine at the SHA Wellness Clinic, travelers should not exercise to the point of exhaustion to avoid immune system suppression.
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Examples of beneficial exercise include running, walking, swimming and cycling, he says.
Studies show that certain supplements, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, garlic, echinacea and green tea, can enhance the body’s immune response, Mera said.
But, he says, not everyone needs them.
“It only makes up for nutritional deficiencies that usually occur when nutrition is inadequate or the immune system is very suppressed,” he said.
To boost the immune system, Waksman also suggests Epsom salt baths (“magnesium is readily absorbed through the skin”), the use of essential oils (especially lavender, eucalyptus, or tree oils), drinking plenty of water, and avoiding alcohol. caffeine and sugar.
Mera added that relieving stress and anxiety is critical to immune health. He recommends meditation, yoga, tai chi, and mindfulness to better manage emotions.
Philippa Harvey, head of SHA Traditional Chinese Medicine, said travelers should start taking steps to boost their immune systems about a week before travel.
“In traditional Chinese medicine, when someone is healthy and happy, we say they have good qi, which is pronounced “chi,” she said.
She recommends eating seasonal foods, especially garlic and ginger in the fall and winter.
She also recommends exercise and acupressure to help you stay healthy.
“Before traveling, the easiest solution is to take a walk in the fresh air,” she said.