How many people have had their longed for holiday blighted by health problems? Too much sun, poor water quality, rich or unfamiliar food, dehydration and increased alcohol intake can all combine to cause stomach upsets or illnesses which can ruin the holiday for everybody.
Naturopath Han van de Braak has some advice for travellers who want to use more natural remedies to ensure that they are in tip top condition before, during and after their holiday.
Prevention is better than cure
“Prevention is always better than cure so put in the groundwork before you go. Taking a suitcase full of pharmaceutical preparations is fine, but it will often only help to relieve the symptoms, when you should be aiming to prevent them occurring in the first place.
Travel sickness is a miserable start to a holiday for sufferers- and their travelling companions.
The key here is diet: avoid heavy meals less than two hours before travelling, as well as acidic foodstuffs and dairy products which can aggravate the nausea. Keep well hydrated, especially if you are flying, as dehydration will increase any feelings of nausea. Ginger root is thought to be effective in combatting motion sickness and is available in capsule form from most pharmacies and health food shops. Taken prior to, and during your journey, they can significantly ease this debilitating condition- without any of the side effects that you can get from prescription and non prescription remedies.
Diarrohea and stomach upsets are a really common holiday ailments – and unpleasant for all concerned! The change in diet, combined with excessive eating and increased alcohol intake can exacerbate the problem. Extract of aloe vera, with its natural anti-inflammatory properties, is used in many products to ease digestive and bowel problems – in fact its use goes all the way back to Ancient Egyptian times. If taken a week prior to travel, the right aloe vera supplement not only helps to prevent diarrhoea, but can also ease the discomfort of stomach problems.
As the only 100% pure aloe vera product on the market, I recommend Aloeride capsules to my clients (www.aloeride.eu). It contains no additives and can help to ease digestive upsets whilst using the wrong aloe vera product can actually aggravate the problem.
This is something that we are all aware of, yet is still so often overlooked. Dehydration can lead to a range of unpleasant conditions including headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Basically, we become dehydrated when we lose more water than our bodies take in. In hot climates, we sweat more and so inevitably our bodies need to take in more fluid and keep our sodium balance right. Add the effect of dehydration to the increased alcohol intake that is common on holiday and you can soon have a problem.
The obvious answer is simply to drink more water! The average adult is recommended to drink around 1.5 litres daily, so on holiday, ensure that you increase this to a minimum of 2 litres. If travelling by plane, it’s easy to become dehydrated, so take plenty of water and avoid alcohol if you want to start your holiday as you mean to go on - in good health.
Sun, sun, sun
The dangers of overexposure to the sun, particularly in short, intensive bursts, is well documented and the message about the importance of using sunscreen is slowly getting through. The problem now is that there are so many suncreams on the market, how do you know which is right for you? In a nutshell, there are two main types of harmful UV rays: UVB which causes sunburn, and UVA which penetrates deeper into the skin and has an ageing effect.
When choosing a suncream, always chose one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 which protects you from UVB rays. Although higher factors are available, they aren’t always more effective at protecting your skin from the sun so don’t assume that a cream with an SPF of 50 will offer significantly more protection than factor 15. Broad spectrum suncreams block out both the UVA and UVB rays and are rated with a star system from 0 to 5, so take both factors into account when handing over your pennies!
Sunscreens are just that: they deflect sunlight away from the skin, offering around 90% protection at their most effective. They also often include a form of metal such as aluminium, magnesium or titanium in their ingredients which many scientists believe is less than ideal. Logically, it makes sense to build up immunity to the harmful effects of sunshine from within. Dietary chemicals such as selenium found in Brazil nuts, beta carotene (red peppers, carrots and other red and orange fruits and vegetables), lycopene (tomatoes) can also help to prevent sun damage from the inside out. In addition, aloe vera, which is often used in hot climates to soothe sunburn by being rubbed directly onto the skin, is another natural substance which can protect against the effects of UV exposure. Again, this is best taken in capsule form prior to, and during your holiday – and it can even help to prolong your tan.
You have worked hard to earn your holiday – particularly in the current economic climate - so make sure that you are fit enough to enjoy it.
Wherever you’re going and whatever you’ll be doing, it pays to be prepared. And, whilst you can’t influence the weather, a delayed flight or your holiday pound, you can control your health with a few sensible precautions.
About the author
Han van de Braak is a chartered physiotherapist, registered acupuncturist and naturopath. He is the founder of the Integrated Medicine Practice in Leicestershire which offers a variety of complementary treatments in homeopathy, physiotherapy, acupuncture, osteopathy, herbalism and diet modification.
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