We reached out to our wonderful practitioner network and asked them one simple question:
How can our readers avoid getting sick during the holiday travel season?
This is what they had to say:
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water (you want very light colored urine), and well nourished by eating lots of vegetables (5 servings/day), fruits (2 servings/day), and whole grains (4 small servings/day). Limit alcohol to one drink per day and sweets to one serving per day (choose what treat you really want and enjoy it, then eat more fruits and veggies). –Lori Brizee MS, RD, LD
Take at least 1-2 grams of pure ascorbic acid (a form of Vitamin C) per meal during healthy days. If you feel you are getting sick or are over stressed, take that amount every waking hour of the day until you get loose stools. Do that repeatedly each day until you are well again, then go back to the standard dose. –Dr. Daniel Chong
Get enough sleep and exercise. Try to get a minimum of 7 hours sleep a night. Exercise moderately on a daily or near daily basis. –Lonna Larsh, MD
I carry 3 items with me at all times when I’m traveling: oil of oregano as an anti-viral, and elderberry tincture and echinacea tincture as immune system boosters. I do the oregano in the morning, and the elderberry and echinacea in the afternoon, and often double-dose if I’m around sick people or big crowds. –Ben Greenfield, MS, CSCS
Do all the things you would normally do to stay healthy: eat in a rainbow, ensure adequate sleep, hydration, relaxation and exercise. And then as the holiday parties hit enforce the 80/20 rule: pick which parties will keep you out a little later and which ones you may splurge in regard to extra calories. Don’t do it at all of them! –Rajka Milanovic Galbraith, MD
Zinc can help boost immunity and fight off a cold – it is found in lean ground beef, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, and foritifed cereals. You can also find it as an over-the-counter supplement. –Julie DuBois, RD, LD, CPT
While many people neglect their exercise programs during this period, it is actually a perfect time to go on long walks and reconnect with family and friends. Instead of plopping down on the couch for the game, fire up the DVR, skip the commercials and take a brisk walk with someone (and leave the cell phone behind!). –Jeffrey C. Edman, MD
Probiotics can decrease incidence, duration and severity of colds and flus for people of all ages. Consume probiotic-rich foods like saurkraut, yogurt, miso and kombucha, or take a probiotic supplement. –Melissa Gastellum, ND
Eat lots of vitamin A and C rich foods and those with zinc. The red/orange vegetables and fruits are all rich in vitamin A and C which will be immune supporting. Also, rinse nasal passages with a neti pot to help keep sinuses clean and clear. –Geri Wohl, CNC
Before flying, acidify your body’s tissues so that they are resistant to illness by taking high dose vitamin C (1-2grams). Drink lots of water before, during and after a flight. Stay warm by keeping the neck and throat covered. During winter months keep vitamin D levels between 60-90ng/ml. –Alexis Shields, ND
Every 2-3 nights roast a few sheet pans full of veggies to have on hand for snacks and meals. Cauliflower, broccoli, squash, red and yellow peppers, eggplant, carrots, and brussel sprouts are all a great and easy addition to any meal or snack! Keep your blood sugar balanced with protein and/or fat at every meal and snack since we tend to up the sugar and alcohol this time of year. –Samantha LeVine, ND
Cut down on sugar this holiday season. Sugar lowers your body’s ability to fight off infection. –Karen Graham, RD
I recommend not shaking hands during the cold and flu season! This may sound drastic, but can go a long way towards protecting you from other people’s illnesses. I also recommend adding an immune support supplement to your daily routine. The ones I like are Thorne’s Phytogen, which is an American and Chinese botanical combination promoting optimal immune function and Metagenics Immucore. –Liesa Harte, M.D.
For travel, I would go with colloidal silver spray for topical antimicrobial activity, and DHEA 20mg (women) and 50mg for men to boost immune function the day before and of travel. Science identifies DHEA as immune modulator, but the dose is just a personal guess (and a touch of expectation/placebo). –Justin Mager, MD
Soluble fiber! White blood cells call macrophages scour the body and help protect us against bacteria and viruses. But these cells are activated by beta-glucans, a natural component of soluble fiber. So help strengthen your immune system by eating more whole oats and barley, baker’s yeast, shiitake mushrooms, and seaweed. –Rachel Gargano, MS, RD, LDN, CSSD
In my home, echinacea, goldenseal, Vitamin C, and elderberry syrup are standards that bolster us through the Winter months. At the first sign of a viral infection (fever, chills, body aches, runny nose), I advise taking the above, plus a dose of Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic remedy. Although “Oscillo” doesn’t prevent the flu or colds from occurring, clinical studies have shown that it reduces days of illness. -Yasmin Nibbe, MD, FAAP
Reduce your stress level! Try not to overextend yourself, be realistic about expectations and recognize when you have hit the limit. Be prepared with a few key options: Rescue Remedy – a few drops under the toungue to help restore inner calm and control, Lavender Essential Oil for your bath or pillow, a Deep Breath to calm and re-regulate the nervous system (maybe 10), Cup of Tea – mint, passionflora, ginseng or chamomille, Bone Broth to nourish & replenish, A Moment Alone – it’s free even if it is hard to find. –Janelle Deeds, CNC
Stay away from sugar. A moderate dose of sugar suppresses the immune system for 5-6 hours. On average, a 12 ounce can of popular soft drinks contains 40+ grams of sugar…over 10 teaspoons of sugar in one can. Boost your immune system naturally by taking Vitamin C and omega-3 fish oils (2 capsules twice daily). -Ross Pelton, CCN, R.Ph., Ph.D
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.