The countdown to the end-of-year summer break has begun. But, it’s also the season where most fall prey to tummy bugs, unexpected colds and other nasties, which can all spoil your fun. During the holidays we travel more, eat out, shop and party even more. We stay up late, and are perhaps a little more relaxed about hygiene, which can weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to viruses and bacteria.
Alisha Mackintosh, allergy and immunity portfolio manager at Pharma Dynamics, shares 7 ways to survive the festive fever:
1. Don’t consume too much sugar. Around this time, many people give in to festive season temptations that are often laden with sugar without realising that this weakens white blood cells. The effect can last for several hours after ingesting sugary food or drinks. If you’re consuming sweet things throughout the day, your immune system may continuously be operating at a distinct disadvantage.
2. Don’t drink too much alcohol. The holidays are synonymous with parties and alcohol. But, too much booze can inhibit the body’s ability to fight infection, so rather drink in moderation.
3. Staying up late? Partying or catching up on Netflix till the early hours of the night, and getting up later in the mornings, can trigger migraines. Sticking to healthy sleep habits and getting eight hours can reduce the frequency of headaches by 29% and the intensity by 40%.
4. Holiday shopping. When on holiday, you tend to shop more, which means you’re handling and drawing cash more than usual. Money carries about 3 000 different types of bacteria that can lead to all sorts of illnesses. Always wipe shopping trolleys and surfaces with sanitising wipes before touching them, and wash your hands afterwards.
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5. If travelling by plane… Some studies have found that flying heightens your risk of catching a cold by 80%. Sitting in close quarters for a long flight might be partially to blame, but we typically push ourselves to meet all the last-minute deadlines before going on holiday. This puts a strain on the immune system. Consider boosting your immunity before a flight by getting enough rest, eating healthy and managing stress. You can also take an immune-boosting supplement. Look out for supplements that contain vitamin C, zinc and echinacea such as Efferflu C to keep the common cold at bay.
6. Dirty air conditioners
As the mercury rises during the holidays, we’ll be making more use of air conditioning units in the car and house. But, if they are not getting cleaned regularly, they could be harbouring harmful bacteria that can affect those with compromised immune systems. Be sure to debug your air conditioning system at least every two years.
7. Crowds. Holidays mean more crowds, no matter where you go. Airborne germs thrive in crowded environments, which heightens your risk of getting sick. Should you find yourself in a high-risk environment, use a natural nasal spray that coats the nasal membrane, trapping viruses and other airborne allergens in order to stay healthy.