As every traveler knows, the germ factor ramps up in winter, thanks to public transportation shared with large numbers of sniffling, sneezing strangers. For growing numbers of Americans embracing a whole-person, integrative approach to preventative health care, healthy toolkits incorporate Western medicine with proven holistic therapies such as acupuncture, intravenous (IV) nutrient therapy, bodywork, biofeedback, cryotherapy, salt room halotherapy and herbal solutions.
A growing number of locations around the country offer this type of comprehensive wellness service, often supplemented by lifestyle coaching and educational programs. One such place is Chambers Center by PALM Health in Morristown, New Jersey, about a half hour from New York City. Bianca Chiara, MD, a Functional Medicine and Primary Care Physician at the Chambers Center by PALM Health, said there are a number of things travelers can do to increase the likelihood of keeping themselves and their families healthy while on the road this winter season, and throughout the year. Here, Chiara shares her top tips:
1. Take care to hydrate often, and in the right way.
Fluids carry and distribute nutrition throughout our body, every organ system and, conversely, they carry toxins from our organ systems out of the body. Water is necessary to help with elimination, and lack of water can cause constipation, which can recirculate toxins. While an average of 8–12 cups of water per day is advised, it’s also important to drink from glass or stainless containers. Avoid tap water, plastic water coolers and water bottled in plastic. Plastics substituted for BPA formulations may be equally harmful, so pack a stainless or glass water bottle for each member of the family.
2. Add supplements.
Vitamin C, zinc and elderberry syrup provide essential support for the immune system. Check with your healthcare provider for the correct dosing.
3. Saline/salt rinse and/or gargle
Airplanes circulate dry air, so a saline spray can help make you more comfortable. But to flush out the airborne virus particles you may encounter on planes, with tour groups and wherever groups of people gather, it’s wise to pack pre-made sterile saline sinus solutions. If you have table salt handy, you can dissolve it in warm water and gargle to rinse the throat.
4. IV Nutrition Therapy
Intravenous nutrient therapy is a safe and effective method of delivering key nutrients into the bloodstream, allowing for maximum absorption. It’s a more efficient way to take higher doses of vitamins without the risk of stomach upset. You can use IV therapy to boost your immune system 24–48 hours before travel, or a couple of days after arriving home.
Probiotics provide another way to boost your immune system and help with digestion. About 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gastrointestinal tract. You can eat probiotic-rich foods such as those that are cultured or fermented like kombucha, yogurts, miso soup and sauerkraut. Or, you can also take probiotic supplements. Saccharomyces boulardii is a particularly good one for immune support.
6. Bring healthy foods with you.
It can be difficult to find healthful choices in some airports or restaurants, and you don’t always have time. So be prepared with healthy foods you and your family enjoy, such as fruits (apples, bananas), nuts, seeds, nut and seed bars; all generally portable and easy to portion.
7. Clothing and sleep
Stay as comfortable as possible so you can catch a nap en route. Layers give you the flexibility to swiftly adjust to your environment. Give some thought to what your family needs to facilitate a good night’s rest (such as pajamas and pillows), so vital for maximizing energy and keeping healthy. To avoid jet lag, you can help optimize sleep during travel by using melatonin or magnesium glycinate.
Meditation can be a great way to help address a fear of flying, minimize stress and maximize patience during delays. Good travelers need resilience, and meditation is a great tool to help build resiliency skills.
9. Hand sanitizers
Frequent hand-washing with soap and water is always the best way to help fight germs and illness. But if you do need to use hand sanitizer, choose those with an alcohol base and essential oils, and try to avoid those with endocrine-disrupting chemicals like triclosan.
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