If 2019 holiday travel predictions are anything like the past few years, more than one-third of Americans plan on traveling during the busy holiday season. Based on recent travel trends, approximately 112.5 million people will go the distance to spend time with family and friends or perhaps, take a much needed vacation. As we look forward to holiday celebrations, good food and good cheer, many of us seem to get sidelined by illness before, during and after traveling. It appears that planning and making holiday travel arrangements may increase the stress of the already stressful holiday season. As well, we tend to get less sleep, forgo exercise, consume more alcohol and overindulge when it comes to holiday treats and sweets, all of which have consequences for immune and digestive function.
While we might like to believe we can push ourselves to the limit during the holidays, chances are high that our normal healthy routine will be disrupted, making it less likely that our immune and digestive systems can function at the highest level. While we may be too busy to stick to the usual schedule, simple steps can be taken to support overall health whether traveling or celebrating at home. December is prime cold and flu season and no one has time to be sidelined by illness. Taking some precautions to support energy production and maintain proper immune and digestive function may be just the ticket for staying healthy during the busy, festive season.
When there’s no time for the gym, any physical activity will do. Epidemiological studies show that regular moderate-intensity exercise enhances immune regulation and competency, thereby reducing susceptibility to communicable bacterial and viral infections. Daily participation in some form of enjoyable physical activity optimizes immune function by increasing the circulation of natural killer cells, white blood cells and other immune system warriors, helping to ensure a strong and vigorous defense against opportunistic infection-inducing pathogens. If you do get sick, rest or least tone down exercise intensity. There’s some evidence that light exercise may help to break up mild congestion in well-hydrated persons.
Beware the usual germy suspects. Coming into contact with large groups of people in highly trafficked areas can increase the likelihood of exposure to bacteria and viruses. While crowds are often unavoidable during holiday travel and events, the truth is we are often exposed to easily transmissible germs in public places. One of the best ways to avoid sickness when those around you may be contagious, is to keep your hands clean. Scrubbing hands for at least 20 seconds with good old soap and water can rid your skin of microbes easily picked up from door handles and other surfaces. While proper hand washing is the first choice to remove bacteria, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can effectively eliminate germs when properly applied in sufficient amounts.
Boost immune defenses with healthy sleep. Prioritizing sleep is one of the most beneficial ways to support immune health. Science shows that the immune system functions at its best when the body is well-rested. Sufficient restful sleep enhances immune defense by boosting the effectiveness of specialized immune cells, while lack of sleep appears to lower white blood cell count. In addition to all the stress and energy-depleting tasks the holidays bring, insufficient quality sleep can suppress immune function, making one more susceptible to infections and lengthening recovery time. Sleep deprivation coupled with stress is associated with low-grade inflammation that negatively impacts immune and overall health. Adequate sleep allows for more efficient stress management, as well as balanced hunger hormones. To support effective immune and stress responses, make healthy sleep a habit and strive for seven hours of restorative sleep nightly.
Stay well hydrated. Sufficient hydration is important all the time, and particularly during air travel. Many blame recirculated air for travel induced illness. However, low humidity in aircraft cabins can cause dryness of the eyes, throat and nasal passages, hindering the airway defense system that normally traps and clears most potential airborne intruders. As there’s good reason why Yale researches call low humidity “the flu virus’ best friend,” the Aerospace Medical Association recommends consuming eight ounces of water each hour of the flight. As low humidity makes one more susceptible to illness, pay close attention to proper hydration before, during and after the flight. Consider adding powdered electrolytes to water and use eye drops and saline nasal spray to combat dryness and repel lingering airborne germs. Additionally, even though it’s holiday time, avoid drinking alcohol while flying. As alcohol is a diuretic that can contribute to dehydration, it’s best to wait until you reach your destination to enjoy some holiday cheer.
- Unfamiliar foods and the tendency to overindulge during the holidays can wreak havoc on the digestive tract. Support healthy digestive function with fiber and nutrient rich fruits and vegetables.
- Be choosy about holiday treats and try to limit portion sizes of foods high in sugar, fat and salt. When healthy eating is off the radar, digestive enzyme supplements help break down foods that may lead to digestive distress.
- If your schedule is packed with activities, a daily B complex supplement helps fight fatigue and boost energy production.
- Shelf-stable probiotics can reduce the risk of digestive upset, as well as boost immune response.
- A magnesium supplement can assure regularity, while supporting the nervous system, muscle health and energy production.
- Bio-active silver hydrosol has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and immune supportive properties. It can be used to alleviate dry skin and nasal passages, as well as to relieve minor sore throats, insect bites, cuts, rashes and burns.
Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality formulations in support of overall health:
Electrolyte Energy Formula Stick Packs by Pure Encapsulations®: Perfect for travelers and those on-the-go, these convenient stick packs mix easily with water to provide a unique blend of minerals, carbohydrates and vitamin C in support of hydration, electrolyte repletion and ATP energy production. One box provides 30 single serve natural pomegranate juice flavored stick packs. Hypoallergenic, gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.
Magnesium Citrate by Professional Supplement Center®: This highly absorbable chelated magnesium supplement supports nerve and muscle function, healthy heart rhythm, energy production, regularity and the relaxation response. Gluten free, Non-GMO, vegetarian formulation.
Active-B Complex by Integrative Therapeutics®: This formula provides a full complement of bioavailable B vitamins necessary for multiple biochemical processes. Active B-complex naturally boosts brain chemicals that improve mood, energy, concentration, visual clarity and alertness. Free of sugar, salt, yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, animal products and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Vegetarian formulation.
Multi-Probiotic® 15 Billion by Douglas Laboratories®: This potent, shelf-stable multi-strain pre- and probiotic proprietary formula provides a blend of eight strains of live beneficial microorganisms in support of immune and gastrointestinal health. 15 billion CFU per capsule. Free of wheat gluten, soy, yeast, corn, sodium, starch and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Non-GMO formulation.
Bio-Active Silver Hydrosol Nasal Spray 10ppm by Sovereign Silver®: This liquid, immune supportive formula provides pure, positively charged, active silver hydrosol in highly absorbable nanometer particle size. Well-researched for immune support, this spray may be safely used short or long term. TSA approved 2 ounce bottle. Gluten and allergen free, Non-GMO, vegan and NSF Certified.
The handiwork of good health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/The_handiwork_of_good_health
Debunking the Myth of Exercise-Induced Immune Suppression: Redefining the Impact of Exercise on Immunological Health Across the Lifespan. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5911985/
How sleep can boost your body’s immune response. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324432.php#1
Sleep and immune function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/
Chronic sleep deprivation suppresses immune system. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170127113010.htm
Flu virus’ best friend: Low humidity. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190513155635.htm
Low ambient humidity impairs barrier function and innate resistance against influenza infection. https://www.pnas.org/content/116/22/10905