If you’re like me, the slightest inkling of someone being sick has your germaphobic going into overdrive (hand me that hand sanitiser and don’t breathe!). Whether you’re going for a short trip out of town or a long-haul flight, no one wants to be sick when they go away.
1. Boost your Immune System.
The best defence is a good offence! While there are no scientifically proven direct links, yet, between a healthy lifestyle and an enhanced immune response, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your A-game and give your immune system the upper hand. It is, however, proven that your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental attacks and is strengthened by a healthy lifestyle.
A diet high in fruit and vegetables
The body is constantly working hard to maintain a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals in your system. Without the proper intake, your cells cannot perform at optimum levels. Foods high in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, D, E, and ones that have anti-inflammatory properties (I’m looking at you turmeric and pineapple!), are particularly known for their flu “fighting” or shortening capabilities. Citrus fruit, garlic, ginger and green tea are just some of the items you should add you your next shopping list.
Widely known for its health benefits, like lowering your blood pressure, controlling body weight and protecting against a variety of diseases, regular exercise contributes to overall good health. Therefore, strengthening your immune system. I’m not saying you have to become the Rock, walking every day will do the trick.
Maintaining a healthy weight
A healthy weight prevents numerous health complications, which put you at a higher risk of more than just the flu.
Getting adequate rest ties in with a strong immunes system because the body produces and releases numerous disease-fighting substances while we sleep.
Your body needs these hormones, chemicals and proteins in order to fight off illness and disease. Children and adolescents require a range between 9 – 11, while adults need 7- 8. Although getting too much sleep can have the opposite effect, with
studies showing that adults who routinely sleep more than 10 hours a night are at higher risk of developing some medical conditions and diseases.
Alcohol consumption in moderation
Alcohol suppresses the immune system by slowing the production and migration of certain cells, thus not enabling the body to properly fight off invaders.
While this is an obvious one, inhaling toxic chemicals is not the greatest way to
strengthen your immune system…or any system in your body. Like alcohol, it
suppresses the antibodies and cells in the body that fight against illness.
Stress is the bodies way of preparing you to run away from a threat, aka fight or flight mode, so it produces more of the stress hormone, cortisol. In order to do this, however, the body suppresses the immune system by lowering the amounts of a protein that are needed to signal other immune cells. So take a breather when you
2. Drink plenty of water.
Every metabolic system in the body requires water to function properly. It delivers nutrients to the cells, flushes out toxins and removes waste. Water also helps you to digest your food, allowing you to absorb all of those essential nutrients required to maintain a healthy immune system. Not to mention all of the beauty benefits (hello youthful skin!) So, grab that water bottle and stay hydrated.
3. Disinfect everything!
Ok, while disinfecting everything may be going a tad overboard and you may get some strange looks from other passengers, it’s best to try not to touch anything that could be contaminated. I know what you’re thinking, how is that even possible in transit?
Well, it's not. Unless you plan on wearing a bubble suit. But you should wash your hands with soap and water after you touch things that are handled by other people, before you eat or drink, and most definitely after using the toilet. If that’s unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub. I carry around some sanitising wipes for when I’m seriously in doubt of the hygiene, but generally, I don’t worry too much. Also, avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth. Germs spread this way. Again, if you do, wash your hands.
4. Get the flu shot.
While highly controversial, being a nurse, I’ve done my research and know that the health benefits far outweigh the negatives. A lot of the disease-related theories have been debunked. Although, they don’t always protect you, as scientists have to guess which flu strain will most likely be around that winter and the flu virus mutates rapidly. Which is why they suggest getting one every year.
5. If your doctor prescribes them, take antiviral drugs.
If you do everything right and still manage to get the flu, take some antiviral
medication. Not to be confused with antibiotics, which are antibacterial, antiviral drugs are a prescription medicine and can shorten the length of time that you are sick, or make your symptoms milder. They can also prevent some of the more serious complications of the flu. Antiviral medication is usually prescribed to people who are at a higher risk of developing flu-related complications (age, pregnancy and certain health conditions can be factors of being at higher risk).
6. Stay at home.
No matter what workload you have, how important your job is, or where you have to be, if you are sick, stay at home. You need time to rest and recover and the people around you would much rather pick up the slack caused by your absence, or reschedule your visit, rather than catch your cold. Pretty sure I speak for everyone on this!
By following these few steps and with a bit of luck, you’ll avoid catching the flu. Or, at the very least, shorten the length of time that you are sick and lessen the symptoms.
So, you can stay home, wrap yourself up in a blanket fortress and avoid contact with the world for the whole winter. Or, you can stick on them fighting gloves, kick that colds arse and enjoy your trip!
Source: Emily Durrance, author and founder of Lust Travel.