Wash your hands, resist sugar.

As this is the cold and flu season, I’d like to give you some advice on how to travel safely.

Every year I travel between 150 and 200 days. The key to my year is remaining healthy. The way I see it, every major bout with a flu/cold will cost you about 10% of your annual productivity. Over the last few years, I’ve built up habits that reduce the number of colds I get per year. Currently, I average only one!

I won’t dump all the ideas on you at once, I just want a few to sink in. Please don’t think I’m a germ freak or Type A to even think about these things — but in my business sick time is down time is lost time.

Here’s my first installment of tips for effective business travel:

1. Wash your hands like Howard Hughes. Seriously. One the most common ways you will catch a cold is through touch. When you travel, you would be shocked to know how many commons you touch along the way. The pole in the train. The pen at the ticket counter. The laptop tray in security. Too many times we only wash our hands when we go to the bathroom. When I eat out, the bathroom is my first stop, to wash my hands. The rule of thumb is that you wash your hands for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday.

2. Sub out sugar throughout your diet. One physician devoted a lifetime of research for a book to study the relationship between sugar and our resistance to bacterial infections. The more sugar you eat, the less bacteria your body kills. This explains (along with extremem weather) why the holiday season yields more colds and infections. Check out an article that summarizes the findings here.

A few years ago, mostly in response to the South Beach Diet, I replaced sugar in my diet with Splenda. From coffee to candy, I purged sugar out of my diet. Things that turn to sugar, especially potatoes without any oils, I stopped eating too. Not only did I shed a few pounds, I also resisted bugs that knocked other people over. This holiday season think diet = immune system fuel. Russel Stover makes a killer sugar free chocolate. Brocolli and ranch make a great substitution for fries and ketchup.

Recommdation: Count the number of commons that you touch next time you take a business trip. Count the amount of sugar you eat when you travel.