Preparing Your Immune System for Air Travel

You’re dreaming of sunshine, scenic views, and counting the minutes till you board an airplane en route to your spring break getaway. But, have you stopped to consider how you’ll stay healthy during your travels?

It’s no secret that airports and planes are well-traveled public spaces that contain a ton of germs! Some of which can make you sick, thanks to close proximity with the thousands of passengers that frequent air travel on a daily basis – and we have no control over the hygiene of others!

Even if you aren’t overly concerned with germs in everyday life, it doesn’t hurt to take extra precaution to protect yourself from potential illness-causing germs when traveling.

A healthy immune system is your first line of defense against catching an unwelcome virus, like the cold or the flu. Before you put the finishing touches on your packing list, there are a few items you’ll want to include to help ensure you arrive at your destination in good health.

1. Sanitize Your Air Space

Come prepared to clean your personal flight space!

  • Include cleansing wipes and hand sanitizer in your carry-on and use them diligently throughout your flight
  • Upon boarding, wipe down any surfaces you may touch, like your tray, seatbelt buckle, headrest, armrests, and overhead air vent controls
  • Clean your hands with sanitizer before eating and drinking and after using the bathroom.
  • To avoid direct contact with bathroom surfaces, use clean paper towels when handling flushers, faucets, and door handles
  • 2. Stay Hydrated

    Flying is dehydrating to the body due to dry air and low humidity levels found at high altitudes. A study in the Journal of Environmental Health Research suggests the low humidity levels on planes are to blame for the increased prevalence of colds among air travelers [1].

  • Drinking water throughout your flight can counteract the drying effects of air travel
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages, like coffee and soda, as these can dehydrate you further
  • Don’t rely only on the beverage cart for your hydration needs – it’s not enough, especially during long flights.
  • Purchase bottled water in the airport prior to take-off or bring a refillable bottle from home to guarantee you have plenty of fresh water to sip throughout your flight
  • Vitamin C can also enhance immune system function to help protect you against germs. However, our bodies are unable to make and store this vitamin, so consider enhancing your water with a supplement containing Vitamin C, like the healthy dose you get in our effervescent ElectroMag!

    3. Protect Naturally

    Proper hydration also helps support the mucous membranes in your nostrils and throat. These membranes, also known as the Mucociliary Clearance System, are a first-line of defense against invasive air-borne pathogens [1].

    The dry air found in plane cabins prevents this mucous from effectively clearing away harmful bacteria, leaving your respiratory system more susceptible to catching a cold while you’re flying.

    Essential oils, like tea tree and oregano, have antimicrobial properties that can aid your mucous membranes and immune system in protecting against air-borne bacteria.

    Studies have found tea tree oil works as an antimicrobial by disturbing microbes’ protective cellular structures [3].

    Naturopath tips:

    Place a dab of tea tree ointment in each nostril before flying to help capture harmful germs and prevent them from entering and infecting the respiratory system.

    It’s believed oregano oil works the same way. A few drops of oregano oil placed under your tongue or added to your water can help ward off harmful germs.

    While research shows you can boost your immunity and/or shorten the duration of a cold with supplementation, the best thing to do to ensure a strong immune system during travel is to take good care of it regularly – aka before and after any trips.

    Regular healthy habits to help keep your immune system strong include:

    • getting plenty of quality sleep
    • drinking lots of water
    • eating a balanced diet, rich with whole foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables
    • supplementing with a high-quality multivitamin and a therapeutic dose of gut-protecting probiotics

    Managing stress is also important since chronic stress decreases the function of your immune system.

    If flying or preparing for travel leaves you feeling stressed or anxious, take extra care in finding time to rest. Whether it’s with meditation, light physical activity, a massage, or other activity that you find relaxing or decompressing.

    Wherever your destination, planning ahead and “preparing” your immune system before and during air travel will leave you feeling energized and ready to make the most of your travels.

    CanPrev recommends

    Immuno-multi
    Probiotic 15B
    Synergy C with Seabuckthorn

    Studies & Referenced Content

    [1] Journal of Environmental Health Research, 2004, Common cold transmission in commercial aircraft: industry and passenger implications

    [2] Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents, 2013, Roles of vitamins D, E and C in immunity and inflammation

    [3] Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2000, The mode of antimicrobial action of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil)