Natural Health with Megan Sheppard: What can I do to protect myself from a cold after flying

I always seem to end up with a cold after flying, even short-haul trips. I assume that it is in part due to the recycled air. What can I do to protect myself, as I am due to fly again next month?

This is a common problem experienced by about a fifth of all passengers. You are right to question the recirculated air, as this can weaken your immune response, but there are a number of things you can do to strengthen and support your immunity before you travel.

The most important thing you can do to combat the drying environment of the cabin is to drink plenty of water, or an electrolyte drink, and also hydrate your skin from the outside with a small spray bottle. I always carry a bottle with two-thirds rose hydrosol and one-third aloe vera juice to spritz my face as needed during a flight. Keeping hydrated helps to prevent headache, fatigue, and reduces the effects of travel stress on your body. Remember to take your vitamins before, during, and after your trip. Vitamin C builds resistance to infection, as well as being crucial for healing. Zinc is an important mineral for immunity, in fact, the body secretes zinc into fluids as an antiseptic which is why it is useful in treating sore throats, respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, ulcers, urinary disorders, and thrush.

Tea, coffee, and alcohol all reduce levels of zinc in the body, so it is best to stick with water when you are in the air. Echinacea, astragalus, goldenseal, elderberry, and olive leaf are at the top of my wish list for immune supportive herbs.Nature’s Plus have developed Herbal Actives ImmunActin Zinc lozenges, which combine chelated zinc with these potent herbs — perfect for strengthening the immune system. ImmunActin lozenges are available online fromfullofbeans.ie if you are unable to find them in your local health store. Sixty lozenges cost €11.95; take three lozenges each day.

Natural Health with Megan Sheppard: What can I do to protect myself from a cold after flying

I have returned to study as an adult student. I am really enjoying learning the second time around, my problem is that I find myself feeling incredibly stressed and anxious when it comes to tests and exams. I do well in my work generally, but I am sure the pressure of performance is affecting my grades. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Stress can actually help us to perform well in a challenging situation, however, too much stress can have the exact opposite effect. Not only can stress and anxiety be emotionally and mentally draining, it can trigger actual physical fatigue and depress the immune system.

As an adult student, this advice may not necessarily apply to you — many students fall back on sugary snacks when they need a quick energy boost, only to crash and burn when the sugar wears off.

Caffeine is another common stimulant used and abused. It stimulates the nervous system, and can leave you wired and tired. Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is a great alternative to coffee. It is reputed to increase concentration and ease depressive moods without interfering with sleep. It is is widely used by students preparing for exams as it appears to stimulate the brain by aiding understanding, recall, and clear thinking while soothing nerves and balancing the immune system.

Yerba mate is packed with nutrients, and contains a xanthine alkaloid called mateine, which acts like caffeine without the side effects. Meditation can help reduce your anxiety levels — whether it be as part of a yoga, qi gong, or tai chi class, or simply making time each day to sit in a state of mindfulness or guided meditation. The gentle exercise combined with breathing and meditation is a winning combination, as this increases blood flow to the brain and improves mental faculties while reducing anxiety levels.

Rescue Remedy, is often used to help with stress, anxiety, and panic attacks. Place four drops under the tongue up to four times daily. I wish you the very best in your studies.


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