Bikini? Checked! Passport? Checked! First-aid kit? Neglected!
Travelling abroad can be an amazing experience, full of good times and good memories. However, it can also be challenging to the body and to our health in general. We asked Cassandra Barns, Nutritionist to put together a holiday checklist that could help you to stay in good health and help you make the most of your holidays!
Live Bacteria Supplement
One of the first supplements recommended for travellers is a live bacteria supplement. ‘When we travel to different countries, we can be exposed to foods that we are not used to, which can easily imbalance the bacteria in our intestines and upset our digestion. We can also be at higher risk of exposure to bacteria that can cause illness, especially if we travel to third-world countries, or other places where food hygiene may not be up to standard. Probiotics can help to balance your gut flora and support digestive tract. Choose a supplement that is designed for travelling and that doesn’t have to be kept refrigerated, such as Prop-Ven Probiotics’ ‘Travel Probiotic’ containing 12.5 billion bacteria per capsule, with the addition of ginger, glutamine and Aloe Vera (www.provenprobiotics.co.uk, £7.95).
To protect further against so-called ‘Delhi belly’ when travelling to high-risk places, it may be worth taking an extra supplement that could have natural anti-bacterial or anti-parasitic activity. Grapefruit seed extract is an excellent option. Of course, this goes hand in hand with essential travel hygiene practices such as avoiding non-sterilised drinking water and ice in drinks, avoiding salads that may have been washed in tap water, avoiding food that could have been lying around for a long time or has had flies on it, and making sure you use anti-bacterial hand wipes or gels where necessary.
Travel Sickness Support
Ginger is a traditional remedy for motion sickness and other types of nausea. It has for centuries (it’s said to have been first used by the ancient Chinese), and although it doesn’t work for everyone, a lot of people find it very effective indeed. Try taking 1 to 2 ginger capsules a couple of hours before you travel, and again during your flight or train journey if necessary.
Holiday’s mean sunny weather so sun protection is a must! Avoid the harsh chemicals and pore-clogging ingredients that are found in most sun screens. Try one made primarily from natural ingredients, such as Green People’s ‘No Scent Sun Lotion SPF 25’
There are also certain nutrients that could help to protect the skin from sun damage. These include beta-carotene and other members of the carotenoid family such as lycopene and astaxanthin, which have been found to reduce UVA-induced damage to our cells. Try Nature’s Plus AgeLoss Skin Support supplement (www.revital.co.uk, £34.24), which contains astaxanthin, a beta-carotene and carotenoid mix, and grape seed extract. It is ideal to start taking the supplement on a daily basis at least two weeks before you go away, and throughout your holiday. It does however not replace the need to use an appropriate sunscreen.
When we’re travelling, we don’t necessarily have access to healthy food. We may struggle to get a variety of foods and especially enough fresh green vegetables and fibre. As a ‘next best’, a green superfood supplement in tablet or powder form may be able to fill the gaps. Chlorella is an excellent example – it is a micro-algae that is naturally rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and chlorophyll – the pigment that gives green vegetables their colour. It also contains fibre and protein, and is easy to digest and absorb. Try Nature’s Plus Green Lightning (www.revital.co.uk, £39.65) convenient powder form to mix with coconut water or apple juice.
Omega-3 Fish Oil
All-inclusive hotels offer a great choice of foods, however dinner options are very often fried in vegetable oil. Vegetable cooking oils are very high in omega-6 fatty acids, which you may think is a good thing – omega-6 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, after all – but high levels of it can cause an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 in the body, which may cause or exacerbate inflammation. In the short term, inflammation can show up as aches and pains (including a worsening of joint pain in those who already suffer) or skin rashes, for example. If you can, research the typical diet and food availability in your destination before you go. If fried foods are hard to avoid, it may be beneficial to take a good quality omega-3 fish oil supplement while you are away to keep a healthy balance. Go for Omega 3 by Quest Vitamins (www.revital.co.uk, £9.75).
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe Vera gel is a traditional skin soother, and is moisturising and healing for the skin. It can therefore be an excellent choice to use as a natural aftersun – in fact; many commercial aftersun products contain aloe vera among their ingredients for this reason. Choose an aloe vera gel that contains minimal added ingredients, such as Soothing Skin Gel by What Skin Needs, that comes in a light, cooling texture and is packed with essential oils (www.whatskinneeds.co.uk, £14.99)