Once again, we find ourselves in the midst of the most wonderful time of year. Filled with joy and seeking the company of our family and friends, there is often only one thing standing in the way of you and that warm summer glow - travel.
You’ve purchased your tickets and you’re ready to go, but it’s important to remember that airplanes, trains, and buses often don’t provide a great environment for feeling your best in the midst of travel stress.
These modes of mass transport are usually densely populated within a restricted area and may even have recycled air, which means that they can be a mecca of questionable bacteria and other microscopic organisms that could put your system in overdrive and possibly even affect how well you feel.
It may take a little extra effort, but it’s not impossible to stay healthy this time of the year. Want to know the secret?
Feeling your best has everything to do with the health of your immune system which is directly related to keeping your gut flora balanced. With such a large portion of our immune function residing in our GI tract, our state of wellness truly depends on the health of our gut environment.
These simple tips can boost your chances of staying healthy, leaving you free to fully enjoy this season with the ones you love the most.
Tip #1: Stay Active
While a summer vacation may be a much needed break from work, it shouldn’t be a break from all physical activity. Studies show that staying active can strengthen your immune system, and it’s easier than you think to integrate fitness into your trip.
Here are some quick ideas:
And don’t forget to pack your workout clothes! It might be tempting to ditch your workout gear when you are trying to fly with limited luggage, but if you include your sneakers and other items, you are more likely to use them.
If you’ve got a long flight ahead of you, do a few simple stretches on the plane to avoid cramps. While you might think twice about doing an entire yoga routine at the back of the plane, a simple tap of your feet or trip to the restroom will keep the blood in your legs pumping. You can also practice good posture in your seat to activate your core and keep your body feeling warm and well as you soar through the air.
Tip #2: Give Your Body the Fuel It Needs
Traveling parties can make it hard to stay true to your health goals, but as Oscar Wilde once said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” Don’t feel bad for going for the sweet treats, but before you grab a second (or third) helping, ask yourself if you’re really still hungry to avoid effects from overeating - which can leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable.
Sugary foods and drinks can also create an inviting home for the undesired. According to Laurie Steelsmith, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist, "from the Chinese perspective, sugar creates dampness and phlegm, which can lead to an environment where health is difficult to maintain. It creates a petri-dish in your sinuses and the back of your throat."
To avoid the processed food available at airports and gas stations, pack healthy meals and snacks that can stop you from heading toward the fast food counter. Take some time to stash away classic favorites like celery and nut butter or even hummus with pita. Fruit is also nature’s fast food, and it makes an easy snack to throw into your travel bag. While it’s easy to eat too many cookies in one sitting, you probably won’t reach for more than a couple of apples.
Airplane air is actually 10% less humid than most homes which can make it more difficult to breathe. Combine this with high altitude, and while you may not be actually climbing a mountain on an airplane, your body might be breathing like it. Deep, slow breaths can make all the difference. If you find that the air is irritating your nose, consider bringing a small bottle of saline spray to keep your nasal passages from drying out. Traveling with a good hand lotion and chapstick can also help protect you from the impact of the dry air. It’s also a good idea to carry-on a reusable water bottle. Having water handy is the best way to guarantee you’re staying hydrated throughout your travels.
As well, a probiotic supplement designed to support your gut environment can also help promote your immune health. Hyperbiotics Immune is not only a high quality probiotic supplement, it also includes the immune system triad: bioavailable vitamin C, zinc, and echinacea. Bioavailability means your body will more easily be able to absorb these immune-boosting ingredients. You see, we use a controlled-release delivery method so that these ingredients bypass your stomach acids and make it to your gut unscathed - where the nutrient absorption actually takes place.
This groundbreaking formula also contains EpiCor®, a particularly impressive, immune-enhancing ingredient with 3 times the antioxidant power of any known fruit and significant clinical studies to back it up.1 When you combine probiotic bacteria with all of these ingredients, you’re fortifying your immune function at its core and increasing the odds that you’ll feel your best. And bonus - because it doesn’t require refrigeration, it makes the ideal traveling companion!
Tip #3: Prioritize Sleep and Relaxation
Whether you find yourself exploring new sites or hosting hectic family dinners, a vacation can sometimes feel like the opposite of relaxation. But a recent study shows that a chronic lack of sleep can have a direct impact on your health by suppressing natural immunity.2
Other findings further posit that lack of sleep can lead to increased errors at work and while operating machinery (like our cars) which can lead to accidents that cost both our resources and our lives. Making time for a short 20 minute power nap can help you de-stress and improve your mental and emotional function while you’re awake.
Diwakar Balachandran, MD, is the director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas and found that many studies have shown that our levels of T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived. T-cells are a type of white blood cell, and are a key influencer in having a balanced immune system.
Taking deep breaths can help you stay relaxed and centered while you’re in transit as well. Research shows that a mindfulness meditation (simply focusing on the present moment and filtering out distracting thoughts while breathing) gives rise to a more subtle secretion of cortisol (the stress hormone), which may allow for immune cells to remain active and thriving.3 It’s a great way to tap back into the present and release any stress or tension you might be feeling in your body.
Taking a few simple steps before and during your summer travel can make all the difference in how you’re able to enjoy time spent with loved ones this season. By staying physically engaged, being mindful of what you’re putting in your body, and allowing yourself some respite from day-to-day stresses, you can look forward to a healthy, well-spent vacation with the ones you cherish.
1. Jensen, G. S., Patterson, K. M., Barnes, J., Schauss, A. G., Beaman, R., Reeves, S. G., & Robinson, L. E. (2008). A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Pilot Study: Consumption of a High-Metabolite Immunogen from Yeast Culture has Beneficial Effects on Erythrocyte Health and Mucosal Immune Protection in Healthy Subjects. The Open Nutrition Journal,2(1), 68-75.
2. Prather, A. A., Janicki-Deverts, D., Hall, M. H., & Cohen, S. (2015). Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. Sleep, 38(9), 1353-1359.
3. Jacobs, T. L., Shaver, P. R., Epel, E. S., Zanesco, A. P., Aichele, S. R., Bridwell, D. A., . . . Saron, C. D. (2013). Self-reported mindfulness and cortisol during a Shamatha meditation retreat. Health Psychology,32(10), 1104-1109.
Julie Hays is the Communications Director here at Hyperbiotics. Health writer and mama of two little girls, Julie's on a mission to empower others to live lives free of the microbial depletion many of us face today. For more ideas on how you can maximize wellness and benefit from the power of probiotics, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.
We’d love to hear from you! What’s your best tip for staying healthy while you travel?
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