You’re preparing for a summer excursion and the excitement is welling up. You’ve remembered to pack all of the important items and get the kids ready to go, but what about your immune system once you depart? We all get excited and caught up in our vacation preparations and often forget to plan for maintaining our immune support when traveling. This is one time that you really do need to invest in your health so that you keep up your energy and enjoy every minute of your trip.
- Choose immune-boosting foods while traveling. Keep a few snacks in your backpack like nutty-tasting hemp seeds (awesome source of Edestin protein which is close to human immunoglobulin and DNA-repairing). Almonds, dried cherries and goji berries will also help you avoid poor choices like fried foods, sugary drinks, fancy desserts or excess starches. Keep your protein levels up with wild-caught fish and pasture-fed beef or chicken (where available) or opt for high-quality vegetable protein if you are vegetarian/vegan. A favorite immune-boosting food is mushrooms, which are high in protein, beta glucans and vitamin D.
- Focus on non-starchy cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage (think cole slaw), brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale. Salads with plenty of dark, leafy greens and even a few beets are super for keeping you regular while traveling. Also keep in mind that a good magnesium supplement can help. You may need up to 600mg a day to keep water in your colon, but work up to it so that there are no surprises. Remember that the excitement of departing for a trip can burn a lot of magnesium as cortisol is released, so standard magnesium dosing that is adequate at home may not be enough on the road. Keeping things moving keeps your toxin levels down; this is good for immunity and for just feeling good while traveling.
- Allow extra time for your activities so that you minimize “fight or flight” stress and maximize “rest and relax”. Treat yourself to a massage or some quiet, unstructured time for relaxing music or a short meditation. Exercise increases immune function so try to take an after-dinner walk or swim in the morning if you are able. Keep up your good sleep habits by getting to bed by 9pm and asleep by 10pm. Every minute of sleep before midnight is worth ten minutes after. Take a natural sleep aid such as GABA, melatonin or an herbal combination. Try magnesium just before bed for extra muscle relaxation. Probiotics are one supplement to remember to bring with you to maintain your gut immunity and energy levels as they produce B vitamins. Digestive enzymes can be a life-saver after a heavy meal so pack a few along for that big meal out.
- Andrographis Complex by Standard Process or Viragraphis by Xymogen are two go-to formulas should you start to feel a virus coming on. They can both be taken preventatively in anticipation of a plane ride where exposure is high. An Andrographis-based formula taken every few hours can be helpful if you find you have been exposed to a virus and are feeling tired, achy or just somewhat off. Integrative Therapeutics’ chewable Esberitox (a blend of Echinacea, Baptisia and Thuja) is a great on-the-go for the convenient blister pack and delicious taste.
- Don’t forget to drink lots of water, particularly if flying. One liter of electrolyte-enhanced water before boarding a plane and one for each hour while on the plane can help prevent brain dehydration which causes a run-down feeling and headache. Electrolyte tablets are available that can be easily popped into a water bottle (once you are past airport security, of course). Remember that fruit juices, rather than alcohol-based drinks, are also helpful in preventing dehydration.
Lastly and most importantly, have a great time and enjoy your summer vacation!
by Janet R. Perry, MA, Wellness Consultant at Peoples S. Lamar