I should warn you – this may may freak you out a little bit. Are you up for the challenge? Ok then, here goes… We know that Animal Kingdom boasts a number of animal species that we love to see but you know there’s an additional kingdom at Disney with literally millions and millions of wild inhabitants. You got it! GERMS! Germs in the bathrooms, germs on buffet line serving ware, germs on the finger readers at the gate, carousel horses, germs on the bars that hold you in on the various rides… get the picture? It’s pretty nasty when you think about it. But never fear! There are ways to protect yourself and your family from picking up these little nasties and keep your immune system in tip-top-shape while in the parks. Let’s face it, souvenirs we don’t want to take home with us are the stomach flu or a head cold. Here’s what you can do:
1. Hand Sanitizing Wipes – I buy a box with about a hundred individually wrapped sanitizing wipes at Sam’s Club, Costco or online at Amazon and hand out a number of them to each member of the family to keep in their pockets. Remember to decontaminate after every couple of rides but most importantly, after trips to the bathroom and before eating. Another tip I mentioned above… think of all the hands that grasp the serving ware at buffet lines in the parks. Did they wash their hands after changing that diaper or whatever? Don’t take the chance and wipe hands clean after filling your plate.
2. Probiotics – Have you seen those commercials that say the majority of your immune system is in your gut? They’re totally right! The majority of vitamins and minerals you ingest are actually absorbed by the body in your intestines. When you consume unhealthy food including sugars and fatty foods, you off-set the balance of healthy bacteria that your body relies on to stay healthy. You can supplement your body’s supply of this healthy bacteria by eating yogurt, keifer or by taking probiotic supplements. The best supplements are best kept cold but there are some that retain viability at room temperature. I suggest building up your immune system a few weeks in advance of your trip by taking the recommended dose of a probiotic supplement or consuming yogurt. This is especially useful for kids too. Your local health food store will have a variety of supplements available. Make sure to choose one that’s age appropriate for yourself and a different one that’s especially for kids.
3. Know your B’s, C’s and D’s – Take a baggie of vitamin B’s and chewable C’s and D’s. Consuming these on a regular basis help boost immunity and can even stop an illness before it starts. Note: only take the recommended dose.
4. Hydrate – The average adult is 50-60% water while infants are around 75-78%. Most people will feel thirsty when they have already lost about 2-3% of their body’s water. Eating a healthy serving of fruits at breakfast especially melons will help keep your body hydrated under the hot Florida sun. And of course, you should drink plenty of water as well.
5. Frequent hand washing – In classic Disney style, many hand washing stations in bathrooms are hands-free so you don’t have to touch germ-ridden surfaces. And remember when exiting the bathroom, don’t touch door handles with your bare hand or you might as well have not washed your hands in the first place. Use the towel that dried your hands to open the door then throw it away in a receptacle outside the bathroom.
6. Maintain your sleep schedule – The Mayo Clinic suggests 7-8 hours of sleep a night is optimal for adults, but when sleeping in a strange hotel bed with several kids in cots around the room, we all know this isn’t always possible. Do your best to maintain your regular to bed and wake time. In a recent Huffington Post article it was suggested that maintaining a healthy pattern of light and dark, sleeping and waking is essential to keep the immune system in balance. So, if you plan on taking in the night time fireworks shows at the parks, schedule a 2 hour siesta that afternoon to give your body the rest it needs.
7. Limit sweets – I love Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bars as much as the next person but try not to binge on sweets. For one thing, it not only taxes your body by throwing blood sugar out of whack, you’ll crash from the sugar high and be tired later. Instead, limit yourself to one sweet treat a day.
8. Oregano Oil – whether you take it in liquid form or supplement, oil of oregano is a powerful anti-fungal and antibacterial making it a silver bullet if you start getting a UTI or any other kind of bacterial or yeast infection while on vacation. It can also help when you’re fighting a cold. So if you start to feel like you’re coming down with something – make sure you’ve brought some of this “super oil” with you. The oil is quite pungent so I’d advise against packing the oil in your baggage, opt instead to buy supplement pills. Of course there is no substitute for taking a trip to the doc if your symptoms begin to progress.
9. Eat your veggies – When at the buffet’s around the parks and resorts, I’ll binge on the veggie side dishes available, filling my plate with these items before adding meats and breads. I get stuck in a rut sometimes at home preparing vegetables the same old way over and over again. While at Disney, I always pick up a few new ideas for veggie preparation. I’ve never tasted better food than that prepared by Disney chefs. It’s amazing what they can do with a string bean!
10. Go for the garlic! – Garlic is a natural antibiotic and antibacterial. It’s good for your heart and circulatory system. So, when you see a dish on a menu or buffet that contains this pungent beauty, dive right in! It will help keep you going strong!
11. Sunblock – we’ve talked a lot about your insides, but don’t forget the largest organ in, or I should say, “on” your body – your skin. Sunburn is not only painful but has some nasty side effects that can impact your health for years to come. Make sure to slather up before beginning your day in the parks and reapply every couple of hours.