Summer holidays are a time for rest and relaxation, and we enjoy planning for them for many months prior to take-off. However, these getaways can be blighted by illnesses caused by warm weather, unusual food and different environments.
Nutritional therapist Claire Barnes from Bio-Kult sheds the light on some of these common ailments, and how best to alleviate them, so that you can have a hassle-free summer holiday.
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.
Ideally, it’s best to wear loose, light, natural fibres and look for shade during the hottest part of the day. Rather than trying to stop the sweating with antiperspirants, cool down with showers, dips in the pool or sea, or using a water spritzer. Keep hydrated by drinking at least two litres of water a day, and try to stay relaxed, which 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.
Keep the skin clean with water, but avoid heavy sun creams and cleansers; try using organic sun creams when needed, but 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 acclimatise to sun exposure could also help, rather than suddenly shocking it with 30˚ heat and sunlight!
Problem: Traveller’s tummy
In a 2010 study of 2,800 foreign travellers, a third had diarrhoea, or ‘traveller’s tummy’. 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 (which can also lead to dehydration) and abdominal cramps.
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 symptoms.
Claire suggests that to get the greatest protection from diarrhoea, travellers should start taking live bacteria supplements two weeks before setting off, during travel, and then continue for two weeks afterwards. This allows the establishment of beneficial bacteria within the gut prior to travel and helps to ensure optimum natural immunity.
Women visit their GP more frequently with 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. UTIs 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 defence 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.
Drinking two litres of water each day 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. 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 by taking a live bacteria (probiotic) supplement.
However careful you are, it can be difficult to make it through your holiday without a touch of sunburn. Characterised by red, inflamed patches of skin, sunburn can be sore and even blister and peel.
Here, prevention is better than cure, but if you do end up with sunburn there are some things you can do to reduce the damage. Applying aloe vera gel will help to cool and soothe the skin. It’s important to keep fluids up and dehydration down by drinking plenty of water. 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 fish, try taking a high-quality fish oil supplement while you are away.
Try: Institut Esterderm Adapts Body Lotion, Strong Sun to protect from burning. Also suitable for sensitive skin.
Claire Barnes is from leading probiotic brand, Bio-Kult, a unique, multi-strain probiotic with 14 strains of beneficial bacteria, expertly formulated to help maintain healthy digestive and immune systems.