Whatever your reason for going away or taking a break, no-one wants their time to be spoiled by low energy, body clock imbalances or digestive upsets. Here are 8 tips to help keep your health in check this summer...
1. Go with your gut
Travelling in itself can be tiring and this is when we can be vulnerable to picking up unwanted gut-based symptoms such as bloating, wind, nausea, diarrhoea and general sickness. Healthy gut flora will play a role in help your defence against infectious bacteria as well as reduce the bloat associated with low levels of the good bugs.
Use a good quality beneficial bacteria product before you embark on your travels, such as Wild Nutrition’s Multi-Strain Biotic. This is also stable at room temperature so it's a great product to pack in your suitcase if you experience an upset tummy or constipation. Eat plenty of meals that include fermented foods such as sauerkraut (easily found in health stores), kimchi (Asian fermented cabbage and spices) and drink coconut water kefir that will feed the growth of the good bugs in your digestive system. You may also want to try supplementing with herbs such as oregano, garlic, grapefruit seed extract (sometimes called citricidal) or olive leaf before you go away as well as during your stay. These powerful herbs and spices contain natural antibacterial and anti microbial compounds that will give bad bacteria their marching orders!
Be sensible about exposure - find that happy medium between getting enough sun for vitamin D and protecting your skin from sun damage and premature ageing. Topping up vitamin D on holiday is essential since we are only able to get 10% from our food and UK weather is unpredictable. Vitamin D is essential for the health of our bones, teeth, and immune system as well as mental well-being. Research has looked at links to vitamin D deficiency and specific female gynaecological conditions and fertility.
Early morning or late afternoon sun is much safer to be out in and by starting with a higher level of sun factor (you can always lower the factor as the days go on). At those times of the day you may even manage 30 minutes of sunbathing without suntan lotion. A word of advice though: if your vitamin D has been very low, you may be able to top up your levels up from one hot holiday but in many cases, this isn’t always enough. The benefit of those living in countries with better sun for more months of the year is that they get a consistent exposure to sun that we wouldn't get here. Certainly come autumn time, I would advise you to begin supplementing again.
3. Protecting your skin with ‘colour’
To protect your skin from sun damage and premature ageing, you should already be eating a ‘rainbow’ diet of colourful vegetables to provide you with an array of food-based antioxidants, such as beetroot, red cabbage, red peppers, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and so on. For increased support, I recommend topping up with an antioxidant supplement one month before you go away. At the end of each day in the sun, apply a generous amount of a good quality chemical free aloe vera gel all over your face. Wait for it to soak in. Aloe vera contains plant compounds that encourage a natural healing process and cool inflamed skin. Then apply a layer of after sun or a moisturizer. The natural ingredient Pycnogenol has been shown to reduce skin damage caused by sun exposure.
4. Preparing for the long-haul
No one wants jet lag to be any more prolonged than it needs to be. Holiday time can be precious and if you have lots of exciting activities planned, you want to be feeling as ‘normal’ and rested in the minimum amount of time possible. One of the best ways to help your body adjust to the change in circadian rhythms (i.e. if travelling from one time zone to another) is to expose yourself to bright light. So, if after a long-haul flight it is daytime at your destination, then get out into the sunlight as much as possible for as long as possible. However, if it is night-time when you arrive, minimize your exposure to light to induce a feeling of sleepiness. We suggest changing the time on your watch to match that. If you are really good at forward planning, try adjusting to your destination time zone for around 3 days before you travel, by going to bed later or earlier depending on the time difference. Shift workers such as nurses often do this in preparation for returning to a new shift pattern. It’s best to avoid bright light in the evening, especially the light from your electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers – they emit blue light, which stops the body’s production of melatonin and can stop you feeling sleepy. Wild Nutrition’s Wild Traveller provides key nutrients including NADH approved by NASA for supporting your health and energy during long-haul travel.
5. Build up your defences
Jet lag isn’t just about sleep, it can also make us feel under the weather, withdrawn, sluggish, stiff, achy and dehydrated. The cabin environment itself can be cramped and there is a very little space to stretch your body and legs. Therefore, we can feel like we have been ‘squashed’ after getting off a flight, especially if it was an overnight flight. The effect on the nervous system and adrenal glands can be a challenge for many, which is why people find flying taxing on energy and almost stressful.
6. Boost your 'B’s
Using B vitamins such as B12 and B6 help support a healthy immune system (which may become vulnerable if we have jet lag or from having closer contact with people) as well as helping us with good energy and recovery from tiredness and fatigue. Vitamin B1 has also been used successfully by some people as a way to reduce pesky mosquito bites. I use Wild Nutrition’s B Complex Plus that contains all the B Vitamins with vitamin C, CoEnzymeQ10 and magnesium in a highly absorbable Food-Grown® form.
7. Mind your ‘M’s
Magnesium is an energy mineral which not only helps us recover from tiredness and fatigue but also supports the health of the nervous system, making it ideal for anyone who gets nervous from flying, is prone to ‘jangled’ nerves and generally feels worn out. Anything that helps the nervous system may also promote a restful feeling.
8. Top up your fibre
Increase your fibre intake to support the aptly named ‘transit time’ (this is how long it takes for food to move through you). Boost your plate with vegetables, beans and lentils and nourishing grains such as brown rice, quinoa, rye flakes, pearl barley, buckwheat and millet.