Boost your immune system now and stay healthy for your summer holidays

Paediatrician and Clinical Fellow at Bupa UK
17 May 2017

We’ve all been there. It’s day one of your long-awaited holiday and you feel a tingle in your throat, your body is sore and a cough is coming on. You’re unwell. By day three, you’re too sick to sit poolside, enjoy a cocktail or soak up the sunshine with the kids. It’s unfair – this is your much-anticipated holiday! So what can you do to stop this from happening?

A little boat on a clear sea

Why do we get ill on holiday?

Right now thousands of people across the UK are booking their holiday getaways and it’s not unusual for people to find themselves battling sickness when they’re away. Exposure to new environments and close contact with unwell travellers can increase your chance of picking up a bug, particularly if your immune system is run-down.

So while you’re booking your trip, now is also the perfect time to start boosting your immune system to prevent an illness spoiling your fun. Your immune system is clever; it detects and destroys harmful invaders that cause illness so it needs to be fighting fit to do its job. But a strong immune system isn’t something you can develop overnight. However, investing time in boosting your health and fitness in the weeks leading up to your holiday can make a big difference.

To give your body a boost and keep your immune system as strong as it can be, I’d recommend that you:

Something as simple as adding a probiotic yogurt or mixed berry smoothie to your diet could work wonders to enhance your immunity to illness and infection. De-stressing is also very important to ensure your body is relaxed and able to adjust to holidays properly.

Five ways to boost your immune system

These are my top five tips for boosting your immune system in time for your summer break.

  1. Sleep tight. Sleeping for between seven to nine hours each night is the recommended amount of sleep for adults. A good night’s sleep ensures your body is well-rested and better prepared to combat any illness which may come your way.
  2. Diversify your diet. Upping your intake of foods rich in antioxidants, including leafy green vegetables, berries and citrus fruits (try and eat a rainbow as all fruit and veg have different vitamins and minerals), and adding a probiotic yogurt to your diet will boost your immune system. Probiotics have the added benefit of reducing the risk of gastrointestinal infections (ie a tummy bug), which often occur when travelling.
  3. Exercise. Exercising has a positive effect on your immune system. For example, the switch between breathing through your nose and mouth that happens when you’re exercising can get rid of harmful particles in your airways and lungs.
  4. Keep it clean. Washing your hands regularly is vital to stopping the spread of illness. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly at regular intervals throughout the day, particularly when using public facilities or preparing food. When you’re travelling, carry an alcohol gel with you in case there’s nowhere to wash your hands with soap and water.
  5. Relax, refresh, revive. In the lead up to your holiday, make time to relax and unwind.. This can help make the transition from a busy working environment to a peaceful paradise easier on your body and mind. Our mindfulness information can help you get started.

Super smoothie recipes

Boost your immune system at breakfast with these handy smoothie recipes.

Graphic showing how to make the perfect smoothie

Seek proper, professional health advice for your particular journey and circumstances. This will give you peace of mind, leaving you free to enjoy your trip abroad.

Logo for Masta, who Bupa works in partnership with to deliver travel health servicesBupa is proud to work in partnership with MASTA - the Medical Advisory Service for Travellers Abroad - to deliver travel health services including travel health advice, vaccinations, and antimalarials. Travel services are available at a range of Bupa Health Centres. MASTA‘s services are also available to those aged under 18.

Dr Edward Gaynor
Paediatrician and Clinical Fellow at Bupa UK

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