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Stay Healthy While Traveling with Immune-Boosting Spices

by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sarka_Jonae Miller

(The Best Years in Life) Whether traveling for business or pleasure, the accompanying stress combined with the difficulty of finding healthy food and the increased contact with new people and places puts you at risk for getting sick. Many people have a hard time sleeping in a new bed or adjusting to a new timezone. Add reduced quality sleep to the stress and poor diet, and you've got a lowered immune system unprepared for the germs thrown at you.

You can't take a magic pill for jet lag or to fix the physical and emotional discomforts of traveling, but one solution to fight off illness is to cover your meals with immune-boosting substances, many of which you can buy dried and take with you. So, whether you're planning an epic Spring Break, an upcoming business trip, or a family vacation, consider adding these common spices, herbs, and condiments to your meals to strengthen your immune system.


Cilantro is a prime ingredient in one of everybody's favorite snacks: chips and salsa. This is fortunate because the herb's leaves and seeds contain a compound known as dodecenal. This compound is twice as effective as an antibiotic called gentamicin at killing salmonella bacteria, according to Immunity Report journal. So, load up on the salsa or sprinkle some cilantro over your rice and pasta dishes. Cilantro is commonly enjoyed with many Mexican, Asian, and Caribbean dishes.


Research shows that rosemary has antioxidant properties that kill bacteria as well as anti-inflammatory agents. Studies show that rosemary helps the liver work better and assists in the prevention of skin damage caused by aging and of cancer.

Dried rosemary leaves or ground powder is easy to find. People use it in soups and stews as well as on fish. 


Hot  Peppers

Although not everyone is a fan of hot peppers, if you can stomach them they are excellent for boosting the immune system. Peppers contain capsaicin, an oil that helps your body fight disease. Combine them with garlic and you're in for a flavorful combination that your immune system will love.

In fact, hot peppers are so well-known for their immune fighting abilities that people in West Africa use them to make a paste that is consumed along with food that could have bacteria. The paste contains only peppers, coarse salt, and minced onions.

Since carrying around hot peppers isn't always feasible, one solution is to bring along a small bottle of Tabasco sauce. The condiment contains several hot peppers and is found throughout the world.


Garlic is one of the best natural immune-boosting substances around. As such, it is used heavily in areas where people don't have refrigeration or the safest food preparation options. Garlic kills many of the bacteria responsible for food poisoning. It also improves cardiovascular health and is known to fight some types of cancers.

There are many ways to incorporate garlic into your diet when traveling. Rarely will you find a place that doesn't have it readily available, but if you think that's a possibility you can bring garlic pills, garlic powder, or garlic salt. Bulbs of garlic last for month as long as they are kept in a dry, dark place. Garlic lasts longest when it is stored uncovered at room temperature. Don't put garlic in plastic bags to travel though. Paper bags or mesh bags work well.

If you do get sick, mixing some freshly pressed garlic with a little lemon juice and honey in some warm water is a great drink to help you recover faster.

Green Tea

Drinking a nice warm cup of green tea boosts immune function and helps many people relax. Green tea is bursting with polyphenolcatechins, which are powerful antioxidants.


Ginger is a pungent herb used to flavor many dishes as well as a popular tea that can warm you up and soothe a sore throat. Ginger root contains several important compounds including sesquiterpenes, and the antioxidants shaogals and gingerols.

Sesquiterpenes destroy rhinoviruses, the nasty agents behind colds. Shaogals and gingerols increase proliferation of immune cells, allowing your body what it needs to resist getting sick.

Bring along some tea bags or spices is a simple and effective way to help you stay healthy while on the go. It could also ensure you aren't stuck somewhere with bland, unappetizing food.

See also:

The Medicine Cabinet in Your Kitchen - Ten Top Common Healing Herbs and Spices

The Many Wonderful Health Benefits of Black Cumin Seeds

Cayenne Pepper - The King of Herbs

Singing the Praises of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

The Golden Spice Saffron Has Golden Health Benefits Too



About the Author

Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy. Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel, Between Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's Natural Healing Tips blog or join her on Facebook and Twitter.

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