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7 holiday health hazards to avoid

Expert tips for staying healthy whilst holidaying abroad and at home

1 Travellers’ diarrhoea

“A nasty bout of travellers’ diarrhoea can really spoil your holiday experience,” says Jenny McGuckian, a registered nutritional therapist ( “My top tip to avoid these issues is to take a wonderful probiotic called Saccharomyces Boulardii. This friendly yeast has been shown in studies to reduce symptoms of diarrhoea caused by gut bacterial imbalance. S. Boulardii is a benign yeast that helps to crowd out any nasties from your holiday destination that could potentially cause an issue. You can either start taking it two weeks before you travel as a preventative measure or at the onset of any symptoms. It is generally safe and well tolerated but it’s always best to check with a healthcare professional to ensure they are suitable for you, particularly if you take medications or are immune compromised. Other tips include taking care around drinking water and doing a bit of research as to what’s the safest option in the country you’re travelling to.”

2 Back and neck pain

“Neck pain, shoulder pain, and even back pain are made worse by long hours in the car, or on a flight, due to sitting in the same position for a prolonged period,” says Carlos Cobiella, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon with the Shoulder Practice ( “Keeping your muscles in a shortened or lengthened position for too long will cause them to tighten up and become sore. If you are on a long flight it’s important to take breaks and get up to stretch to get the blood flowing to your muscles again. Ensure that you get up a few times on your flight and disrupt the pattern of sitting for too long. When sitting make sure your back is aligned against the seat, and your head is on the headrest to keep your spine in alignment and keep your shoulders neutral and avoid slouching or hunching forward.”

3 Dehydration

“It can be very tempting to hit the airport bar before a flight, especially if you are a nervous flyer, but drinking alcohol may actually be counterproductive,” says Kate Delmar-Morgan, a registered nutritional therapy practitioner from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition ( “For some people, alcohol can increase feelings of anxiety, rather than relieve them, and it can have other undesired effects too – so is best avoided. Even a small amount of alcohol will cause you to become dehydrated which can ultimately make jet lag worse and possibly cause constipation if you are flying long-haul and will leave you feeling uncomfortable. Alcohol affects sleep patterns making it harder to adjust to a new time zone. Water is the best thing you can drink both before and during a flight.”

4 Travel tiredness

“Irregular meal patterns and skipping meals can cause fluctuations in tiredness and decrease energy levels," says Kate Delmar-Morgan. “If you are going on a long journey, take snacks that will support energy and concentration such as a piece of fruit and some nuts or some hummus and oatcakes.” If you are setting off early in the morning, Delmar-Morgan recommends soaking some oats the night before and simply adding berries and some nuts or seeds for a delicious and healthy breakfast, which can easily be transported in Tupperware. For road trips, she says to take a cool bag or box and prepare a tasty salad that can easily be eaten with just a fork. “These can be loaded with healthy salad items, grated carrot, peppers, quinoa and proteins such as chicken or tuna,” she says.

5 Insect bites

“If you are prone to insect bites, plantain (Plantago spp.) is invaluable, though considered a weed by most,” says medical herbalist Pamela Spence ( “Simply pick the leaf, crush it and rub it on an insect bite to help take some of the itch out. People who react badly to bites often have high histamine levels so adopt a low histamine diet in the summer and drink teas of nettle and chamomile to help reduce reactivity. Lavender essential oil is hated by many biting insects so apply in a ring around ankles and wrists, particularly in the evening to ward them off.”

6 Jetlag

Jetlag is one of the downsides of long-haul flights. Essentially it’s a mismatch between our body clocks and the time zones we are travelling to. It takes a little while to adjust to the new sleep schedule, but there are some things you can do to help with the symptoms of jetlag. Take an eye mask and earplugs with you on the plane so that you can try to get some undisturbed sleep. If you have a travel pillow, try adding some drops of lavender essential oil to it to aid with relaxation. The homeopathic remedy Cocculus 30c may help if you are struggling with disturbed sleep and adjusting to the new time zone. Consult with a qualified homeopath for advice before taking any remedies.

7 Sunburn

“When you go out in the sun, you should protect your skin from UVA and UVB radiation with high-quality mineral-based sun protection products,” says Ingrid Jamieson, marketing manager with Pravera Ltd ( “UV rays penetrate the skin and damage tissue, speeding up the ageing process and drying the skin out. These rays also increase the risk of skin cancer. Mineral sun protection works in a different way to chemical sun protection. Mineral protection contains zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, which sit on top of the skin’s surface creating a protective shield over the skin. These minerals instantly reflect the sun’s rays before they can penetrate the skin’s surface, so you can enjoy the sun immediately after applying. In comparison, synthetic sun protection is absorbed into the skin. After 20-30 minutes the sun protection becomes effective and, through a chemical reaction, will absorb UV rays and then convert them into heat which is then dissipated from the skin. Conventional chemical sunscreens contain harmful chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. When these chemicals are exposed to sunlight, reactions occur with the skin causing inflammation, irritation and allergic reactions.”

Application tips:

Ingrid explains: “Each skin type has its own natural protection time and without the appropriate sun protection you should not stay in the sun longer than this. Using a sun protection factor (SPF) prolongs the time you can stay in the sun without running the risk of getting sunburn. The following formula can be used as an approximation of how long it is safe to stay in the sun.

Skin’s own protection time x sun protection factor

For example, if you have fair skin that (without sun protection) allows you to stay outside in the sun without getting burnt for 10 minutes this means:

10 minutes x SPF15 = 150 minutes
10 minutes x SPF20 = 200 minutes
10 minutes x SPF30 = 300 minutes
10 minutes x SPF50 = 500 minutes

Try this!

Sonia Bainbridge, co-founder of Raw Beauty Lab ( suggests the following natural remedy to soothe sunburn: “Take a chilled tomato, slice it, apply to sunburnt skin and leave for 15 to 20 minutes. The tomato will absorb the heat from sunburnt skin, providing cooling relief. Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant, lycopene, and will help reduce redness and can even help reduce peeling from sunburn.”

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