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Condition - Holiday Relief

By Corin Evans Dip ION

The summer holiday season is now well upon us, and the promise of long lazy days in the sun, sipping cocktails at sunset and enjoying meals alfresco is tantalisingly close! Escaping for our well-deserved week or twos holiday is a treat that we look forward to all year, so how can you ensure you and your family stay healthy whilst you are away, and come back feeling refreshed, relaxed and full of beans rather than plagued by holiday horrors?

Gut Health

Travellers’ diarrhoea is usually described as ‘passing watery stools three or more times a day’, either during or shortly after travelling, and according to NHS figures a staggering 30-50% of us travelling to a developing country will suffer with it. Sticking to bottled drinking water and avoiding salads and ice cubes that may have been washed with or made with the local tap water is always sound advice, but add to your defences by boosting your population of friendly intestinal bacteria before you go on holiday with Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis. These strains are naturally resident in the gut and contribute to a strong healthy and robust digestive system. Whilst you are away, swap to Lactobacillus sporogenes, which is much more suited to travelling, as it doesn’t need to be refrigerated unlike the previous mentioned strains, but similarly supports your friendly bacteria, helping to crowd out other more nasty bacteria that may be encountered.

Grapefruit seed extract may also be a good thing to pop into your suitcase, and when taken every day while on holiday may help to prevent unwanted bacteria and other organisms taking hold. Increasing your intake or supplementing with garlic may also be beneficial, after research showed that gram-negative diarrhoeagenic pathogens were highly sensitive to it.

If you are off the beaten track and are unable to buy bottled water, colloidal silver may make the perfect travel companion. This is a natural biocide and can be added to water to help purify it before you drink it.

Dehydration can also cause diarrhoea, so make sure you stay well hydrated, particularly if you are spending time in the sun. This is even more vital if you enjoy an alcoholic tipple or two, as alcohol is very dehydrating.

Skin Health

Our skin spends much of its time under wraps in the good old English climate until we suddenly peel off when we go on our holidays. To help guard sensitive and vulnerable skin it can be useful to top up on several antioxidant nutrients that have been shown to help protect the skin. The first, betacarotene was found to protect the skin against the sun’s rays and sunburn, offering most protection after supplementation for ten weeks. Boost your intake by including lots of yellow, orange and green fruit and vegetables in your diet, and consider supplementing if you are going to be spending a fair amount of time in the sun.

Studies also found that astaxanthin, another carotenoid found in the green micro-algae Haematoccus pluvialis, protected the skin against UV rays and offered potent protection for skin cells. Much of the damaging effects of the sun on the skin can be attributed to UV light, which causes a huge number of free radicals to be generated leading to  inflammation and the classic reddening of the skin. Further research found that astaxanthin might minimise the effects of sun exposure such as wrinkling and sagging. Astaxanthin can be found in salmon so including it in the diet is a good place to start. Pick the wild variety rather than the farmed if you can as it contains around four times as much of this valuable antioxidant. It is also found in other pink seafood such as lobster, crab and prawns so perfect for topping up your levels if you are in a seaside destination. Whilst the gourmets amongst us may be getting excited, it might be easier and cheaper to supplement it.

Increasing your intake of the better-known antioxidants vitamins C and E may also be beneficial for those off on a sunny holiday. Recent research concluded that the two combined reduced the sunburn reaction.

Investing in a really good sunscreen is still a must if you are going to spend time in strong sunlight, as is timing your sun exposure outside of the strongest rays in the middle of the day. Have some cooling aloe vera gel to hand if you do get caught out, to help soothe the sun-irritated skin.

Many people find that their skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema improve when they are on holiday in a warmer sunny climate, but for the estimated 20% of people in the UK who suffer from frequently recurring cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus, this can be quite the opposite. Sunlight, sunburn and dehydration can all trigger the virus to resurface, leading to an outbreak. For those who are prone, it can be handy to have the amino acid lysine in your holiday essentials just in case, and consider taking a course of it before you go away on a holiday to sunnier climes. Research shows that taking lysine seems to reduce recurrences, severity and healing time of herpes simplex infections.

Finally if the thought of flying, packing and organising who’s feeding the pets while you’re away sends you into a panic, try taking nutrients to support your nervous system such as theanine, magnesium and passionflower.

So now you are armed with top tips for trouble-free travel, all you need to remember is your passport and toothbrush!


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