Sun Safe: Natural Solutions for a Healthy Holiday

Make sure you’re Sun Safe

Sun Safe and Sun FunIt’s holiday season and many of us are looking forward to a hard-earned break. Whether you’re a sun-worshiper, an adventurer or a culture vulture, the summer holiday is one of the key events in our annual calendar. That’s why looking after our health on holiday is especially important. Read on for natural ways to protect yourself against the most common holiday health problems and being sun safe.

Tummy bugs

Traveller’s diarrhoea is the most common health problem related to travelling abroad. Between 10% and 20% of holiday makers travelling to southern Europe or the Caribbean will have their holidays spoiled with episodes of food poisoning. Those travelling to areas such as Asia, the Middle East and Latin America should be particularly cautious as more than 20% will fall ill with traveller’s diarrhoea [1].

The best way to avoid food poisoning abroad is to be extra careful about food hygiene measures. Use bottles or sterilised water if local tap water is unsafe, and avoid ice in drinks. Avoid buffet food that has been left out at room temperature for extended periods – remember hot food should be piping hot and thoroughly cooked, cold food should be cold, and choose fruits and vegetables that you can peel yourself. Dressings such as mayonnaise and ketchup are commonly linked with food poisoning, so try using single-serve sealed packages.

A sensible way of protecting against food poisoning is to take a probiotic supplement while travelling. Probiotics bolster the intestinal lining’s protective barrier, making it difficult for infections to take hold. Well-studies strains include L. acidophilus, B. bifidum and L. bulgaricus.
Some probiotics actually secrete antimicrobial substances that protect the body from infection. The probiotic L. Reuterei works in this way, and studies have found it to be particularly effective in preventing gastrointestinal infections and diarrhoea in children [2].

Jet Lag

For those travelling further afield, jet lag can spoil the early days of a long haul holiday, and can leave you feeling tired rather than revitalised on your return.
Jet lag symptoms are made worse by dehydration, so drink plenty of water during your flight, and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Natural treatments for jet lag include melatonin, a hormone involved in the sleep-wake cycle. Food sources of melatonin include goji berries, almonds and raspberries. However, a natural source of melatonin is the Montmorency cherry (used in the CherryActive range. Studies suggest cherry juice appears to raise melatonin levels and to have a positive effect on the sleep cycle [3]. The anti-inflammatory properties of tart cherry juice may also enhance this effect by reducing inflammatory cytokines [4].

Sun Safe ProtectionSunshine

Most of us are aware of sensible sun protection measures, such as covering up, wearing sun-cream and limiting sun exposure. In addition, taking a small amount of the lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes, for a few weeks before travelling can also protect skin against sun damage [5]. Just 16mg lycopene has been found to protect against sun damage. This amount can be found is around 3 tablespoons of tomato paste. Other good sources are watermelon, grapefruit and sweet red peppers – all helping to keep you sun safe.

Not taken our advice on being sun safe? One of the best natural treatments for sun burn is topical aloe vera. This leafy plant grows abundantly in hot countries, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Simply break open a leaf and apply the soothing inner gel. Another helpful topical treatment is cider vinegar, which reduces pain, itching and inflammation. Try adding a cupful to your bathwater. Remember the best way to avoid sun burn is to be sun safe in the first place. Whenever and wherever you’re travelling to – have fun!

References

  1. National Travel Health Network and Centre. Traveller’s Diarrhoea. 06/02/2014. https://www.nathnac.org/pro/factsheets/trav_dir.htm Visited 10th May 2015.
  2. Rosemarie De Weirdt (2012) Glycerol Supplementation Enhances L. reuteri’s Protective Effect against S. Typhimurium Colonization in a 3-D Model of Colonic Epithelium. PLoS ONE, 7 (5): e37116
  3. Howatson et al (2010) Effect of tart cherry juice on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr 51(8):909-16
  4. Opp MR (2004) Cytokines and sleep: the first hundred years. Brain Behav Immun. 18(4):295-297.
  5. Rizwan et al (2011) Tomato paste rich in lycopene protects against cutaneous photodamage in humans in vivo: a randomized controlled trial. Br J Dermatol 164(1):154-62.
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