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by Kelly Bejelly

If you’ve ever found yourself developing a cold or other illness a few days after flying on a plane, you’re definitely not alone. Flying on a plane with other passengers is one of the easiest ways to spread germs and potential illnesses. And while it’s sometimes unpreventable, there are many steps that passengers can take to limit their exposure to germs while in flight. With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to help you stay healthy before, during, and after your next flight.

Eat Healthy

It may not seem like it makes a huge difference, but making an effort to eat healthier foods in the days or weeks leading up to your flight can help to keep germs and illnesses at bay. And the day of the flight, you can choose your food choices carefully to influence your immune system as well:

“Traveling is not the time to splurge or cheat on your healthy regimen – avoid eating any junk food in the airport or airplane as this undermines your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. If you have favorite whole food supplements such as a greens powder mix or Vitamin C, pack them as instant, easy to digest nutritional support. If you are prone to motion sickness consider packing ginger capsules and healthy, organic pretzels or crackers as a good go-to for plane snacks,” writes Marilee Nelson on Branch Basics.

Staying on top of your supplements is particularly essential for those who may suffer from chronic health issues; for example, the likelihood that allergic rhinitis or asthma will spontaneously go away is approximately 1% per year, and many times, taking enough vitamin C can help to minimize symptoms during and after flight.

Know Your Risk

As mentioned, flying in any type of plane with other passengers exposes you to potentially contagious germs and illnesses. This is true especially for commercial planes but even for private jets; one third of all business aircraft flights are into a secondary airport, and 19% of flights are into large commercial airports.

Don’t Neglect Mental Health

Regardless of the reason for your flight — a business trip, a vacation, visiting a relative, or anything in between — it’s important to keep mental health and self-care in mind through every step of the way. If you find that you’re getting nervous or stressed in the airport, try to listen to music or do something that will calm you down. When your body is stressed, it can automatically decrease its natural immunity to certain pathogens. Keeping your mind calm can help your body stay healthy as a whole.

Ultimately, take things one step at a time when staying healthy before and after your flight. For specific health recommendations, talk to your doctor.

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