Top tips to keep our immune system fighting fit

A well-functioning immune system is vital if we’re undertaking essential business travel.  Even as we attempt to minimise contact, essential business travel continues to involve being in close proximity to people, who are also likely to be moving between locations and in close proximity to other people.

The COVID-19 virus has particularly focused our attention on ensuring that our immune system is working well.  The diet and lifestyle factors that help support our ability to fight infection are suddenly very important.

Magic Potions

There are many supplements with mega doses of nutrients or ‘botanicals’ promising to ‘boost’ the immune system, which isn’t scientifically possible.

Our metabolism needs a balance of all the essential vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, carbohydrates and fibre; an excess of one is no help.

However, a poor quality diet is likely to be nutrient-poor.

The Mediterranean Style Diet Is Still the Best

A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains, provides lots of antioxidant vitamins, minerals and fibre.  Raw nuts like Brazil or walnuts will add essential fatty acids, vitamins E and selenium, all necessary for our immune function.

Fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines contains vitamin D, which can be lacking during the winter months.  The UK NHS recommends supplements of 10ug/day if we are short of the summer sun and not regular oily fish eaters.

Small amounts of red meat provide haem iron in the form readily available to our blood and muscles; vegetarians will need a diet particularly rich in whole grains and seeds and may need dietary supplements.

Pulses and beans add to the rich mix of prebiotics necessary to sustain a healthy microbiome.

Avoid Tiredness

Avoiding being tired can be difficult during the present times of uncertainty, and if essential travel is a must, then tight travel schedules and travelling to different locations across different time zones can add to the stress and fatigue.

Our immune system, along with our whole body works, less well if we feel ‘worn out’.  Allowing time to rest and recover is vital to staying healthy.  So, if you need to isolate upon reaching your destination then ensure you use the time wisely to catch up on your sleep.

Keep To Healthy Habits

This means avoiding giving our body extra sources of stress, such as smoking or consuming large amounts of alcohol.  It may be tempting but try to keep to the healthier coping behaviours which reduce extra strain on our bodies.

Getting regular exercise is still important to maintain all body systems, including a good immune response.  This feeds into other systems such as stress reduction and maintaining a healthy body weight, all necessary to maintain a good immune response.

Recognise Age as a Risk Factor

As we get older our immune system works less well, so we are more likely to catch bugs and develop some cancers.  Although our response to vaccination is less strong as we age, vaccination against the flu virus or pathogens that we are likely to encounter on our travels becomes especially important.

To avoid compounding the current situation, it’s important to keep our vaccinations up to date.

Reduce Exposure Through Good Personal Hygiene

Washing hands before eating should always be our regular routine.  While on the move, keeping our hands clean and away from our faces and avoiding physical contact with our acquaintances is the new normal.

Mutual respect for our fellow travellers and colleagues will help protect us all.

©  2020 Executive Travel Vitality


Author: Carol Sadler PhD
Carol is a Nutrition Consultant. She counsels in diet and lifestyle change at Surrey Cardiovascular Clinic where clients have been referred by the clinic cardiologists. Prior to this Carol worked in private practice in Dubai for nine years, where she had various media engagements including Emirates Radio 2 Lifestyle Show monthly ‘phone-in’ on nutrition topics; Gulf News Friday Magazine (weekend supplement) monthly nutrition letter answered; City7 TV appearances on Breakfast Television and Lifestyle Show commenting on nutrition topics. Contributions to local magazines, and organizations, eg Rheumatoid Arthritis Group, Grazia Magazine, Living in the Gulf magazine. She continues to write nutrition articles and blogs, recently writing for Reader’s Digest, and HASTE Academy heart health charity and provides talks on diet issues. Carol is a member of The Nutrition Society, a Registered Nutritionist at the Association for Nutrition, Registration No. 912 and a member of SENSE (self employed consultant Nutritionists group for professional development).

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