It’s summertime and the livin’ — and traveling — are getting easier.
As travel restrictions ease in the United States and across the globe, we’re dreaming of all the trips we planned during the pandemic. Sound familiar?
If the pandemic left you itching for a new adventure and a little nervous about leaving the comfort of your own home, you aren't alone! Before you pack the car or print your boarding pass, boost your immune system naturally before and during summer travel with these eight go-to strategies.
8 Strategies for Boosting Your Immune System for Summer Travel
Vitamins & Minerals for Immune Support
The food you eat plays a huge part in boosting your immunity. Focus on increasing your intake of these nutrients to the recommended daily levels in the weeks before you hit the road:
- 75 to 90 mg of vitamin C, found in strawberries, bell peppers, kiwi, broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes, tomatoes, and citrus fruits
- 15 mg of vitamin E, found in vegetable oils, nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts, broccoli, spinach, and fortified foods such as cereal and juice
- 700 to 900 mcg RAE of vitamin A, found in dairy products, fortified cereals, apricots, mangos, cantaloupe, squash, carrots, broccoli, and salmon
- 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D, found in fatty fish such as mackerel, tuna, and salmon, as well as fortified cereal, juice, and milk
- 8 to 11 mg of zinc, found in dairy products, whole grains, beans, nuts, red meat, oysters, shellfish, and fortified cereal
- 55 to 75 mcg of selenium, found in whole grain, dairy, eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood
- 8 to 18 mg of iron, found in nuts, peas, kidney beans, spinach, lentils, white beans, poultry, seafood, lean meat, and fortified bread and cereals
- 400 mcg DFE of folate, found in kidney beans, black-eyed peas, oranges, mustard greens, spinach, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and beef liver
Alternatively, adding supplements can help fill in the gaps if you don't get enough of certain vitamins and minerals through your diet.
Increase Your Fiber Intake
Soluble fiber boosts the internal production of a protein called interleukin-4, which encourages the immune system's T-cells to fight infection. Doctors recommend that adults strive for 6 to 8 g of soluble fiber each day. This can be found in avocados, figs, oranges, berries, and flaxseed, in addition to 20 to 32 g of insoluble fiber, found in whole grains and most produce.
Feed Your Gut Microbiome With Both Prebiotics & Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics sound similar, but you actually need both different compounds for optimal immune system health. Probiotics are microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria that live naturally within the body. These beneficial organisms support GI health and digestion, preventing diarrhea and bloating during travel. Prebiotics, found in fiber-rich foods, provide nourishment to support a healthy colony of probiotics.
Keep Your Exercise Light & Moderate
Even if you usually maintain an intense regimen of physical activity, consider dialing down your exercise routine when you plan to travel. Long runs and heavy lifting can impair the function of the mitochondria of the cells, impacting the body's ability to regulate blood sugar. Stick to less strenuous activities such as cycling, walking, yoga, playing golf, or jogging. Plan a rest day after a day of strength training.
Ferment Your Vegetables
The fermentation process involves preserving food through a natural process in which yeast and bacteria convert carbs and sugar to alcohol and acid. These substances add a distinctive flavor and immune-boosting probiotics to vegetables and other foods. One such probiotic, L. Plantarum, helps the body absorb iron and reduces stress markers occurring with illnesses. Fermented veggies such as sauerkraut and kimchi are rich in other immune superstars like zinc, iron, and vitamin C.
Pre-Cleanse Your Body
Keep accumulated toxins from affecting your immunity by prepping your body with a gut health cleanse. Proponents of this approach report multiple health benefits, such as increased energy, reduced inflammation and alleviated GI symptoms (and that's just to name a few). Detoxify herbal cleanses contain natural ingredients rich in antioxidants that help your body fight off disease-causing free radicals.
Hit the Road With a Healthy Gut Shop Detoxify’s Gut Health Detox
Improve Your Sleep Schedule
The saying "sleep is for the weak" could not be more untrue! Without good quality sleep, you are more prone to getting sick. As you sleep, your body produces immune system compounds called cytokines. Lack of sleep results in a decline in these proteins, lowering the body's ability to shield you from infection. Our circadian rhythm, which governs many bodily functions, including immunity, relies on a consistent sleep schedule. You can improve your sleep by:
- Going to bed and waking up at about the same time each day, even on the weekends
- Removing electronics from the bedroom since the blue light can interfere with the body's circadian rhythm
- Exercising every day
- Avoiding caffeine in the evening
Sleep is your friend! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Practice Deep Breathing Techniques
Reducing your emotional stress can create a range of health benefits, including an immune system boost. Stress produces a chemical called cortisol, which prevents the immune system from releasing mediators that reduce symptom-causing inflammation. Chronic stress creates chronic inflammation that increases disease risk.
In addition to cultivating a positive mindset, you can limit the body's production of cortisol with some simple breathing exercises. For example, pursed-lip breathing requires you to slow down as you actively control oxygen flow into your lungs and exhale carbon dioxide. To do this exercise:
- Sit or lay in a relaxed position and breathe in through the nose for two counts.
- Purse your lips and slowly exhale for four counts.
- Repeat as needed five or six times a day.
Keep Polisorb On-Hand for Fast Digestive Relief, On-the-Go
The stress associated with travel can cause stomach upset. And let's be honest, when traveling, indulging in delicious food is a must. In addition to trying the above ways to increase your immunity, keep your bag stocked with Polisorb packets for on-the-go relief of an upset stomach.
Take it as soon as you notice bubbling, gas, or bloating, and mix with water as directed to relieve GI issues on your next adventure. Learn more about your new travel best friend. You won't regret it!
After the year we've had, it's understandable to have some nerves about your health while traveling. Take precautions to improve your overall immunity so that you can go on your trip feeling safe and excited about what's to come. You deserve it.