Summer holidays are a time for relaxation and rest, and occupy our thoughts for many months prior to takeoff. However, these warm weather getaways can be blighted by illnesses caused by warm weather, unusual food, and different environments. Nutritional Therapist, Claire Barnes from leading probiotic brand, Bio-Kult sheds the light on these common ailments, and how best to alleviate them, so that you can have a hassle-free holiday.
However careful you are, it can be really difficult to make it through your holiday without a touch of sun burn. Characterised by red, inflamed patches of skin, sunburn can be sore up, and depending upon severity, can blister and peel.
Solution: In the case of sunburn, prevention is better than cure, but if you do end up with sunburn there are some things you can do to reduce damage. Applying aloe vera gel will help to cool and soothe the skin. It's important to keep fluids up by drinking plenty of water to help avoid dehydration. Increasing anti-oxidants in the diet such as vitamin E from nuts and seeds, beta-carotene from orange coloured vegetables and lycopene from tomatoes can all help to reduce free-radicals produced from UV exposure.
Fish oil has also been shown to inhibit damage caused by UV light and inflammation in the skin. So, making the most of the local oily fish whilst on holiday could be ideal for helping reduce the damaging effects of the sun, if you're not keen on the taste of fish, taking a high-quality fish oil supplement away with you could be useful.
PROBLEM: Excessive Sweating
Sweating is our body's natural way of keeping us cool. Unfortunately, some people suffer with excessive sweating due to hormone imbalances, anxiety or medications. Often, the heat will further exacerbate their symptoms.
Solution: Ideally, it's best to wear loose, light, natural fibres and look for the shade during the hottest part of the day. Cooling down with showers, dips in the pool or sea or using a water spritzer would be more advisable than trying to actually stop the sweating with anti-perspirants. Keeping hydrated by drinking at least two litres of water is important. Trying to stay relaxed should also help to keep hormones balanced and reduce anxiety.
PROBLEM: Prickly Heat
Prickly heat can go hand-in-hand with excessive sweating. The sweat glands become blocked and trapped by an overgrowth of bacteria and dead skin cells, causing inflammation and resulting in an itchy rash.
Solution: Keep the skin clean with water, but avoid any heavy cleansers and sun creams. Instead opt for organic sun creams when needed, but try to allow the skin to breathe as much as possible. So instead of heading out in the sun in the hottest part of the day, relax in the shade, wearing loose light fabrics and wear a large sunhat whilst walking around. Allowing your skin to get used to exposure to the sun could also help, rather than suddenly shocking it with 30 degree heat and sunlight!
PROBLEM: Travellers' Tummy
In a study in 2010 among 2800 foreign travelers, 962 had Travellers' diarrhoea, resulting in an attack rate of 34.4%. Most cases are caused by consuming contaminated drinking water, liquid, or food. Local strains of bacteria may cause problems to travellers due to a lack of antibodies to these strains in their immune systems. Common symptoms include vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps. Chronic diarrhoea can also lead to dehydration.
Solution: Live bacteria have been shown to improve the symptoms of diarrhoea by balancing the microflora in the gut, preventing pathogenic, bad bacteria from attaching to the intestinal wall and supporting the immune system to be responsive to new strains of bacteria. Studies show that live bacteria can be used as both a preventative and for the management of the symptoms of travellers' diarrhoea.
It has been suggested that, in order to get the greatest protection from diarrhoea, travellers should start taking live bacteria supplements before and during travel, and then continue afterwards. This allows the establishment of beneficial bacteria within the gut prior to travel and helps to ensure optimum natural immunity. I would advise taking a probiotic such as Bio-Kult (£8.99 bio-kult.com) two weeks before, during and two weeks after your holiday for maximum benefit. Bio-Kult is a unique, multi-strain probiotic with 14 strains of beneficial bacteria, expertly formulated to help maintain healthy digestive and immune systems. Additionally, unlike most probiotics, Bio-Kult does not need to be refrigerated, so perfect for warm climates.
It has been reported that women visit their GP more frequently with bouts of cystitis during the summer months. A possible cause of this may be an increase in sexual activity, dehydration and a warm moist urogenital environment. In more than 80% of cases urinary tract infections (UTIs) such as cystitis are caused by the overgrowth of the bacteria E. coli normally originating from the digestive system.
UTI's are more common in females and this is likely due to the close proximity of the bladder to the rectum. If E.coli has reached the bladder, the body's natural defense is to flush it out with urination. Unfortunately if given the chance, the E.coli is able to attach itself to the bladder wall using its pili (hair-like structures). It is when the E.coli attaches to the bladder wall that they are able to multiply and cause the common symptoms of cystitis.
Solution: Drinking two litres of water each day which will help to keep the urine at an appropriate pH as well as encouraging the bladder to flush out any harmful bacteria regularly. Reducing alcohol, caffeine and sugar from the diet can also help to maintain a healthy bladder, as these can be possible cystitis triggers for some. As the majority of UTIs originate from a bacterial overgrowth in the gut, another recommended solution is to rebalance the gut flora with live bacteria from either fermented foods or a live bacteria (probiotic) supplement.
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