Covid, 10 rules for going on holiday safely

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Estate is synonymous with holidays, and never like this year the Italians really want to leave. But although the restrictions are easing – now the mask it is mandatory only in closed places – and most of the population is vaccinated, you must not let your guard down. It is estimated a flow of movements which, by September, could be close to i 39 million travelers between Italians and foreigners, with an increase of about 12% compared to last summer, according to data collected byEuropean Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Yes to travel, therefore, but a responsible attitude is required and above all aware of all those practical behaviors, of those micronutrients and those substances that can contribute to limit the risk of contagion, increase the defenses of the immune system and in particular of the respiratory tract.

In this regard, the practical guide was created “Summer, I’m ready” – which is part of the “Protect your lungs” educational campaign, promoted by Zambon Italia and supported by two exceptional ambassadors, such as the TV presenter and radio speaker Rudy Zerbi and the TV host Caterina Balivo -, which was developed by the Professor Maria Pia Foschino Barbaro, Director of the Respiratory System Diseases Operating Unit of the Policlinico Riuniti of Foggia.

Its goal is to highlight the 10 things to know and do for a responsible summer: from nutrition to physical activity, from means of transport to mental well-being and air conditioning, up to the possibility of increasing the immune defenses of the respiratory tract.

«The health emergency is not over yet and, both before and after one’s turn vaccination, it is good to adopt responsible and not passive behavior – comments Professor Maria Pia Foschino Barbaro – This means taking care of your body and protect the lungs first and the respiratory tract, increasing its defenses against viruses and bacteria. These are simple precautions, which however should not be forgotten, not even on vacation ».

Perhaps not everyone knows that the key to fighting oxidative stress and boosting the immune system lies in a substance produced by the liver, which is a powerful natural antioxidant. “Clinical practice in these months of pandemic has allowed us to discover how particularly low levels of glutathione – explains Professor Foschino Barbaro.

It is further proof of how much the main antioxidant of human cells is directly linked to the body’s ability to increase the defenses of the respiratory tract and how important it is to be able to stimulate its endogenous production. In this way, the use of the N-Acetilcisteina: an antioxidant molecule that derives from a natural amino acid and is able to stimulate glutathione, thus increasing the defenses of the immune system and respiratory tract ».

To spend a summer in safety between travel, holidays and vaccines, here are the practical tips of the guide “Summer, I’m ready”, available online at, which we propose below and in our gallery. Good summer… in complete safety!

The vaccine is the most powerful tool we have to defeat Covid-19, but we know that even after vaccination – albeit in drastically lower percentages – it is possible to be infected and infect others. It is good, therefore, that all Italians – those waiting for the first or second round, as well as the immunized – do not let themselves be carried away by the holiday climate or by the enthusiasm for the good results of the vaccination campaign. Yes, travel, therefore, but with awareness and responsibility.

We make the most of the good weather, enjoy the fresh air and open spaces as much as possible. In fact, scientific studies have shown how very rare outdoor infection is and how sunlight inactivates the coronavirus eight times faster than previously thought. However – indoors as well as outdoors, waiting as well as after the vaccine – the precautionary measures of the World Health Organization must be our North Star. To date, the prevention measure that has shown the greatest effectiveness is hand hygiene: wash them often with soap and water or, if not, rub them with an alcohol-based gel. The other golden rules remain: wear a mask, maintain an interpersonal distance of at least 1 meter, ventilate the rooms, avoid excessively crowded places, sneeze in disposable handkerchiefs or in the crook of the elbow. When staying indoors is unavoidable, for example on public transport, in shops or crowded places, it is good to keep the time under control and avoid lingering longer than necessary.

The lungs are an easy target for viruses and bacteria: this is why it is important to prevent and always keep the defenses high, creating an environment that is hostile for them and structuring a real protection system. The basic rule is to “feed” the defenses of the respiratory tract with adequate substances, so as to enable them to react effectively to bacterial and viral attacks, such as those of Covid-19 (but not only).

The lungs, motors of our breath, are subject to a natural physiological decline because they are constantly exposed to the oxidizing action of what allows us to live: oxygen. Normally our body is able to fight free radicals, which derive from oxygen, through a natural antioxidant defense system. When the balance is lost, free radicals act as “crazy splinters”, damage our body and increase oxidative stress. The latter is often associated with inflammatory reactions, from which it can be triggered or, on the contrary, of which it can constitute a “fuse”. It is therefore necessary to increase the antioxidant defenses and fight the oxidative stress of the organism and the respiratory tract, to which external factors such as smoking and pollution also contribute.

The key to fighting oxidative stress and boosting immune defense capabilities is called glutathione: the main antioxidant in human cells. A glutathione deficiency indicates oxidative stress and may lead to an increased risk of lung damage. For example, it is possible to stimulate its production with molecules deriving from an amino acid of natural origin, with a high antioxidant power against free radicals, which can thus support our body to react against bacterial and viral invasions. In any case, always ask your doctor or pharmacist.

With the pandemic underway, it is good to choose carefully where you want to go and how to get to your destination. Non-urban destinations, for example, allow us to stay away from air pollution which, according to a study, could be related to a greater diffusion and severity of Covid-19 cases. Whatever the destination, the safest means of transport remains the car. If rental or car-sharing is necessary, it is always good to make sure that the vehicle surfaces have been sanitized.

There are no foods that alone can prevent a Covid-19 infection (source: World Health Organization), but some micronutrients have been shown to be useful in supporting the immune system and consequently helping to increase the defenses of the respiratory tract. Vitamin C and vitamin D can be useful for their immune system support, antioxidant activity and consequent antiviral function. So a healthy diet and a good summer menu include greens and vegetables, fruits such as black currants, cherries and pineapples, but also blue fish such as anchovies, sardines and mackerel.

To really “disconnect” from the daily routine it is best not to remain sedentary, but to take advantage of free time to walk outdoors, in the woods or on the beach. The sports that seem to bring the greatest benefits to the respiratory system are aerobics (such as running), stretching exercises, stretching, but also yoga and swimming, which increase lung capacity. Physical activity keeps us healthy and is a fundamental ally in the prevention of respiratory tract infections: this is confirmed by a recent study, which highlights how physical inactivity is associated with a more severe Covid-19 disease.

Holidays can be the right opportunity to recover from stress and “pandemic fatigue”. In fact, in recent months, the sale of anxiolytics has increased by 12%, as well as an increase in cases of depression, anxiety, and stress. On the other hand, it would be important to always preserve one’s mental well-being, even while waiting for the first or second round of vaccination: therefore, one should not be afraid to consult a specialist if the symptoms are severe, while, in general, some relaxation exercises, as well as dedicating oneself and pursuing one’s passions and hobbies. Umbrella reading is also promoted: a study has shown that reading can reduce stress by 68% and that it works better and faster than other relaxation exercises.

Both before the holidays and on their return, many Italians will still be struggling with smartworking and turning on the air conditioner could be the ideal solution to work without suffering from the heat. However, proper maintenance and cleaning is essential: an exhausted filter, for example, can circulate chemical and microbiological contaminants, which favor inflammation of the respiratory tract. Therefore, also pay attention to the exchange of air: it is a good idea to ventilate the room often, opening the windows and letting in fresh air, even at the cost of suffering from the heat for a few minutes. These precautions must of course also be adopted on vacation and in holiday homes.

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