By Dr. Mercola
Travel can increase the stress on your immune system, even if it's for fun.
If you're not careful, you may come home from your trip with an unwelcome memento - like a cold or flu.
Some people even expect to get sick during a trip. But it doesn't have to be that way!
It's very important to take care of your immune health while traveling, whether it's for business or pleasure.
Acupressure is the practice of pressing or massaging certain points on your body, which can stimulate your body's self-curative abilities.
CNN Go has collected a list of 8 Acupoints1, which could be useful for travelers.
Here are a few:
- Motion sickness and nausea: Press on the inside of your forearm, two thumbs' width above your wrist crease, between the two tendons.
The point is actually located below surface level so pushing deep is more effective.
- Sore throat and lightheadedness: Loosely interlock your thumbs at the webbing, with both palms facing down.
Keep your wrists straight, and extend your index finger to the skinny edge of your wrist. Under the pad of your index finger you'll find a small depression in the prominent bone; that's the point. Rubbing or pressing this point relieves symptoms associated with colds.
- Insomnia or disturbed dreams: Find the styloid process muscle on the side of your neck, and follow it up to where it meets your skull. The point is at the A-like depression going toward the back of your head.
For the complete list, please review the original article.2
Does Flying Increase Your Chances of Getting Sick?
Occasional travel exposes you to environmental toxins and pathogens that you aren't routinely exposed to - new people, new places, and toxic airplane cabin air. If you have a strong immune system, your body will be able to handle these insults without much trouble. But if your immune system is compromised, you can end up getting sick.
Air travel, with its frequent delays, security hassles, cramped quarters, and jet lag effects, can be stressful, but does it inherently make you more likely to contract an infectious illness?
A recent WHO report found there is no evidence that recirculation of cabin air facilitates the transmission of infectious disease agents on board.
Additionally, a University of California, San Francisco study found recycled air on short-term flightsis no more likely to cause colds than flights using fresh air. The researchers interviewed 1,100 passengers before and one week after an approximate two-hour flight and reported that the frequency of colds and runny noses were virtually the same between recycled air and fresh air flyers.
As that report confirmed, it is the strength of your body's own immune system that determines whether or not you will get sick. The infectious bacteria and viruses that circulate around an airplane cabin are merely triggers for an already weakened immune system. Cold and flu viruses can last up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces and the nasty Norovirus3 can survive for two to four weeks - so chances are you're very likely to touch a surface with some germs on it while you're in a confined space with many other people, like on an airplane (or in public places general). The best way to prevent getting sick then, is to build up your immunity well in advance of traveling and practice good health habits while away.
The Basics for Protecting Your Immune System While Traveling
So, let's start with the basics.
I actually recommend you follow these tips year-round, regardless of your travel plans, because you will inevitably be exposed to bacteria and viruses in your daily life. The following general guidelines will help you optimize your health and immune function, and by doing so, minimize your risk of becoming ill.
|Consume a diet that's right for your nutritional type and rich in raw foods; avoid junk foods, processed foods, sugar and grains, which all can tax your immune system.
|Get plenty of good quality sleep.
|Exercise regularly and effectively; when on a long flight, walk around frequently to prevent the risk of pulmonary embolism.
|Get adequate sunlight exposure to optimize your vitamin D level; if this is not possible, use a safe tanning bed or take an oral vitamin D supplement.
|Rehydrate with water, not soda, while traveling; most airlines offer bottled or canned sparkling water.
|Take a high quality probiotic (good bacteria) and eat plenty of fermented foods like kefir and natto, which are natural sources of probiotics. A probiotic supplement can help prevent the constipation that many people get while traveling.
|Do a quick cleanup of your hotel room as soon as you check in. Simple precautions like wiping down faucets, handles and countertops, washing glasses, and removing a bedspread can reduce your risk of exposure to pathogens.
|Consider booking a night flight instead of a day flight. There is significantly less EMF exposure at night than during the day because the earth block's much of the sun's radiation at night.
|Consider using an earthing/grounding pad while flying to help correct the bioelectrical disruption you experience when you are not in contact with the Earth's surface.
|If you suffer from motion sickness, pack some fresh raw gingerroot. Ginger is a wonderful natural remedy for nausea, as well as being a remedy for a number of other health problems. Combine this with the acupressure point in the article above to give your motion sickness a double-whammy. You can even use EFT for nausea.4
|Address your stress; minimize it as much as possible. My favorite stress-busting technique is EFT, which is like acupuncture without the needles.
Astaxanthin Can Help Prevent Cellular Damage from Radiation Exposure
The above tips are the very basics. But there are some additional steps you can take that can further increase your odds of staying well. Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring but still little known carotenoid that may be the most potent antioxidant in nature. Carotenoids are the compounds in your foods that give them that vibrant cornucopia of color - from green grasses to red beets, to the spectacular yellows and oranges of your bell peppers. Astaxanthin is what gives wild salmon their vibrant red color.
Not only does astaxanthin give your immune system an enormous boost, but it's also a potent UVB absorber and can help reduce DNA damage. Hence it can help protect you from the increased radiation you are subjected to while flying, and may even offer protection against any harmful radiation exposure from airport scanners.
I recommend taking 4-8 mg of astaxanthin for several weeks prior to flying, and continue taking it throughout your trip.
Avoid X-Ray Airport Scanners if You Can
I recommend avoiding airport X-ray scanners if at all possible. Although some experts claim that X-ray scanners expose you to "1,000 times less radiation than a chest X-ray" and "far less than what you are exposed to in-flight," these analogies are deceptive. As Dr. Russell Blaylock has pointed out, radiation damage depends on the volume of tissue exposed.
Some of the most damaging radiation barely penetrates the skin and is concentrated on top few millimeters of skin surface where some very radiation-sensitive tissues exist, such as your eyes, genitals, and circulating blood cells.
Zinc and Mushrooms: Two More Immune System Defenders
Zinc is another simple, inexpensive antiviral supplement you can take if you suspect you might not be getting enough in your diet. There is some fairly convincing scientific research suggesting zinc can shorten the duration of a cold as well as decreasing the severity, if taken within 24 hours of your onset of symptoms.
It's not completely understood how zinc curbs a cold, but it appears it may prevent the virus from replicating or attaching to your nasal membranes. I recommend supplementing with no more than 50 to 65 milligrams of zinc per day. Again, only consider supplementing if you think you are not getting adequate zinc from your diet, as a little zinc goes a long way.
Foods richest in zinc include oysters, meat and poultry, nuts and seeds, and unsweetened chocolate (cacao). High grain diets impair zinc absorption, so if you eat a fair amount of grain-based foods, you may be zinc deficient.
Medicinal mushrooms offer another powerful immune boost, besides being nutritional powerhouses. They have anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. A supplement consisting of a blend of several medicinal mushrooms is thought to be more powerful than one containing a single mushroom type.
The Best Breakfast on the Road
It is often a challenge to adhere to a good diet when traveling. I travel often, and I have had to develop a dietary plan that is convenient and manageable for me while away from home.
Many eat breakfast in a diner while traveling, or succumb to the in-house breakfast that many hotels now offer. Unfortunately, the food choices are often not very nutritious and usually consist of mostly processed food and sugar, which will NOT help you stay healthy. Typically, what you'll find is an assortment of pancakes, waffles, donuts, cereal, or scrambled eggs… or something that sort of passes for scrambled eggs that I dare guess is loaded with stuff you shouldn't be eating.
I believe a far better option is making a whey shake in your hotel room for breakfast, which will start your day off right with some high-quality protein. Whey shakes have become a staple for me, and they're easy to prepare in any hotel room.
Of course, you DO have to plan, and bring the food with you!
You want a whey product that is specifically from grass-fed, non-hormonally treated cows, and minimally processed. This maximizes its beneficial immune-supporting components and all the key amino acids and other important nutrients.
My Personal Recipe for a Healthy Breakfast
My breakfast recipe has evolved over a number of years but it works well for me so I thought I would share it. Most of the time, I am able to take the ingredients with me so I can consume them when I travel. First I start with a bed of dehydrated cucumber pulp which is broken down to about the size of breakfast cereal. The crunchy texture serves as a healthy bread substitute. This is leftover from my juicing and seasoned with crushed red peppers and Himalayan salt.
I then melt two tablespoons of raw grass fed organic butter over the cucumber flakes. Then I put some chopped organic red onions and a whole cut up organic avocado, and top it off with four raw organic pastured egg yolks. My latest and best addition is about 6-8 ounces of fermented organic vegetables like cabbage, carrots, celery etc. This is one of the healthiest breakfasts that I could come up with, and fully believe it would help many improve their own health.
Up and At 'Em: The Art of Hotel Room Exercise
If you want to stay healthy while traveling, it is a good idea to get some exercise every day. Some hotels have a small workout room, but even if yours doesn't, there are plenty of options for exercising right there in your hotel room. You can always take a brisk walk to a nearby park, climb some stairs, or take advantage of the swimming pool many hotels offer (just beware of heavily chlorinated pools!). Many gyms offer daily or weekly passes for a minimal charge.
But you can get an aerobic workout without ever leaving your room. Try some of the following:
- Jumping jacks
- Tricep dips off a chair
You can also do things like yoga and Pilates anywhere you have a floor… and of course, that's pretty much anywhere! The best type of exercise equipment for packing in a suitcase is a resistance band. These are made of strong, thin rubber and come in a variety of resistances, and have handles at the ends. With resistance bands, you can do just about anything - chest presses, rows, shoulder presses, tricep extensions, bicep curls, and even squats - without the need for heavy weights.
Take a look at these exercise videos and you'll see how many exercises you could do with a little "improv" in a standard hotel room. And here is an exercise video demonstrating an exercise routine specifically designed for a hotel room.5 Going on vacation doesn't mean a death sentence for your health. With a little planning and attention to your immune system, you can enjoy your vacation and come home refreshed - rather than infected.