All abroad!

How to stay healthy on holiday

Natural sun protection

“One of the key things to look for on any sun lotion is evidence that it provides broad-spectrum protection against both UVB and UVA rays,” says Ian Taylor, Operations Manager with Green People (www.greenpeople.co.uk). “UVB affects the skin at or near to the surface and is responsible for causing the skin to redden and burn, whilst UVA penetrates more deeply and can affect the living cells that lie underneath the outer layers.

UV damage to these deeper skin layers is the leading cause of premature ageing and is thought to increase the risk of serious skin diseases. To ensure that your sun lotion offers protection against both UVB and UVA rays look for the EU approved symbol which consists of the letters UVA inside a circle – only products that meet set standards are allowed to display that symbol.

Prevention is always better than cure – apply sun lotions before exposing the skin to sunlight, and reapply every two to three hours to maintain protection. At the first sign of redness or prickling of the skin, get out of the sun! Wear a broad-brimmed hat and light clothing to cover the arms and legs. Avoid direct sunlight between 11am and 3pm when it is at its strongest and most likely to burn. If, in spite of this, the skin does get burnt, then applying cold damp towels to the affected area can help to reduce the heat, and applying light aftersun lotions can replace moisture and reduce the risk of peeling. If the skin is very painful or blistered, seek medical advice from a doctor or pharmacist.”

Homeopathic remedies

Mani Norland, principal of The School of Homeopathy (www.homeopathyschool.com) suggests some homeopathic remedies to help common holiday health hazards. If symptoms match, take 30c every half an hour for three doses and wait.

Argenticum nitricum is for anyone who is anxious about travelling, especially by aeroplane. Generally you will hear them saying, “What if we miss the train/plane/taxi/or the plane crashes/ship sinks/they’ve lost our booking?” And so on! This is the remedy for anticipatory anxiety.

Tabacum – This helps with travel sickness, particularly extreme nausea with vomiting caused by motion and much worse if smelling cigarette smoke.

Petroleum – Also helpful for travel sickness, but especially intense nausea with motion sickness (especially at sea) which may be accompanied by ravenous hunger.

Arnica – This is the first remedy to try for jet lag, and ideally in a 200c dose, but there are also combination remedies available.

Protection against travellers’ tummy

“We look forward to our exotic holidays all year to relax and recharge, but planning, packing, and travelling to our holiday destinations can be a stressful experience,” says Kerry Beeson, a nutritional therapist and head of customer care for OptiBac Probiotics (www.optibacprobiotics.co.uk). “Stress can cause bloating and upset tums before we even arrive. Once we reach our destinations, our bodies may be challenged by heat and sun exposure, new foods and drinks, and probably over-eating and drinking more alcohol than we’re used to. Also, some destinations can be full of all sorts of nasty micro-organisms just waiting to hitch a ride in our tums and cause havoc!

Drink only bottled water in countries with poor sanitation. Also, practise good hygiene: wash hands, shower regularly and avoid raw foods in under-developed countries, unless peeled or washed in bottled water.”

Kerry also recommends packing some probiotics in your suitcase. “I take those which have been researched for traveller’s diarrhoea,” she says, “so the probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii is a favourite. It is great for helping to prevent or relieve diarrhoea symptoms and survives well in hot climates. You can also find it in probiotic travel supplements that combine S. boulardii with other bacterial probiotic strains that are good for diarrhoea and survive well in hot climates. I take a preventative dose but at the first sign of holiday tummy I increase my dose.”

Healthy eating whilst on your hols

It can be oh so easy to overindulge whilst on your holidays, and end up gaining a few extra pounds. Frida Harju-Westman, in-house nutritionist at the global health app Lifesum (www.lifesum.com), offers some tips for eating healthily whilst still having fun.

Have a good breakfast

To help you avoid snacking on unhealthy foods throughout the day, make sure you have a healthy and filling breakfast. I recommend eating eggs with some fresh spinach leaves, which will leave you energised and will control your appetite, as eggs are full of protein. Porridge with chia or flax seeds is also a good option to kickstart the day.

Avoid unhealthy starters

One of the first mistakes that we can make at a restaurant is ordering an unhealthy starter, such as breads and cheeses. The University of Pennsylvania found that having a starter that is at least half made up of vegetables and other ingredients can satiate you and prevent you from overeating later on in the meal. If you don’t want any form of salad for your starter, then opt for a clear broth, without any heavy cream – as it still contains plenty of vegetables, is hot and delicious and won’t leave you feeling hungry.

Read the menu

Not knowing how to read the menu can be another mistake that we make when eating out on holiday. While very few restaurants display the calorie count for each dish in the menu, there are still clues and giveaways that can tell you a lot about the calorific content of each dish. For example, words like ‘creamy’, ‘stuffed’, ‘au gratin’ or ‘sauteed’ are great indicators that the dish is likely to be highly calorific.

Drink plenty of water

If you are on holiday in a hot location then it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day. However, this is also a good way to ensure that you do not overeat when it comes to meal times. Having 1-2 glasses of water before your meal is the perfect way to reduce feelings of hunger, especially because the majority of the time that we feel hungry we are actually thirsty.

Try this!

“Lavender essential oil is great for calming nerves and sickness on the plane,” says Kerry Beeson. “It’s one of the few oils you can use neat on the skin and is a great natural antiseptic. I use it to soothe sunburned skin, or on bites, cuts or spots. It can be a good natural insect repellent, but citronella is the star when it comes to keeping mosquitoes at bay. Don’t use this neat on the skin, but you can add to aftersun, your favourite oil, or dab on clothes and bedding.”

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