The holiday you’ve long had on the horizon is now a glorious finish line with all the fanfare. But when you finally get there, you get sick. It’s so unfair! But why does this so often happen? Was it “that person” on the plane who coughed and spluttered in your direction - yes, you have an 80% chance of catching that bug too if they're seated close by - or, does the reason lie elsewhere?
As we lower our stress levels and sink into the joy of some much-needed time off, we switch off our sympathetic nervous system. To spin all the plates in our lives, we may well have been running on stress hormones. We’ve been sharp and focused, and our body’s defence mechanisms have had to work efficiently. Adrenaline helps to heave us over deadlines, encouraging our immune system to defend us against any infections that might slow us down. Cortisol is another clever hormone our adrenal glands make, one that controls our mood, motivation and fear and helps us in dealing with stress.
As useful as these stress hormones are, they have a destructive effect on the immune system if prolonged. If your body remains on high alert, then important functions of the body are derailed and shut down. Think your reproductive or digestive system, your growth process or your immune system.
So why does a holiday in particular so often bring on a sick bug? The hypothesis is that if we transition quickly from work to rest, then our hormones fall out of balance and we become vulnerable to infection. We may even have unwittingly been fighting off the sniffles for weeks! And without the distraction of work, cold symptoms like muscular pains, headaches, coughs and a running nose take hold (and seem far worse on holiday than when we’re at our desks).
Being in mass transit from home to holiday destination can often be the culprit. Travelling can be exhausting. One study published in the Journal of Environmental Health Research calculated that we are 100 times more likely to catch a cold on a plane than in normal activities. The longer the duration of a flight, the more likely you are to pick up a virus, too. The recirculated air is often filtered before it’s pushed back into the cabin, but proximity to other passengers and the lack of humidity can play a part (hence the whopping 80% chance of catching someone's cold on a plane). Washing and sanitising hands on a flight can help.
Eating and sleeping well in the run up to your holiday and taking a supplement like Leapfrog IMMUNE can support your immune system as you transition to downtime. A study published in February 2021 called “The in vitro antiviral activity of lactoferrin against common human coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2” (Hu et al, Emerging Microbes & Infections, 2021) reports that lactoferrin can keep multiple human coronaviruses at bay. Lactoferrin derived from cow’s milk – as Leapfrog’s lactoferrin is – can bind directly to the virus and inhibit its absorption into target cells. In addition, when the spike protein of a virus docks on an area on healthy cells called the heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) before gaining entry into the cell, lactoferrin can block the virus at the HSPG site:
“In this work, we profiled the broad-spectrum antiviral activity of LF against multiple common human coronaviruses including HCoV-OC43, HCoV-NL63, and HCoV-229E as well as SARS-CoV-2 and its mechanism of action. It was found that LF inhibits not only SARS-CoV-2, but also HCoV-OC43, HCoV-NL63, and HCoV-229E."
Every chewable tablet of Leapfrog IMMUNE contains 250mg of lactoferrin, together with zinc and vitamin C. One tablet per day (on what we call the Pulse Method®) is useful to support your immune system as you launch into your holiday. Dr Marian Kruzel, Leapfrog’s consultant immunologist and lactoferrin expert from the University of Texas, explains the benefits of lactoferrin particularly when we’re run-down – and he certainly wouldn’t get on a plane without it:
“It’s good to supplement when the body might not be producing sufficient lactoferrin of its own. That could be down to lifestyle factors such as stress, insufficient sleep, lack of exercise or poor diet. Personally, I take it every time I go on a plane. When I travel in a close environment and people are coughing or sneezing, I make sure that I take lactoferrin. I believe I am protected that way.”
Hu Y, Meng X, Zhang F, et al. Thein vitroantiviral activity of lactoferrin against common human corona- viruses and SARS-CoV-2 is mediated by targeting the heparan sulfate co-receptor. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2021.