These foodie rescue remedies will allow you to enjoy the warmer months worry-free, says nutritionist Louise Pyne
If you’re anything like us, you probably love summer, but there’s no denying that the warmer weather doesn’t come without some annoying side effects. From sunburn to travel sickness, summer comes with its fair share of gripes. Thankfully, there’s plenty of dietary measures that you can take to help to beat summer health worries. Here we reveal what to load onto your plate and what to drink to tackle pesky pitfalls.
Slathering on a high SPF isn’t the only thing you can do to reduce the risk of burning – piling your plate with antioxidant foods is a powerful secret weapon that could increase your skin’s defence against the sun’s harmful rays. As a rule, the deeper the colour, the more antioxidants a food contains, so load your shopping trolley full of blueberries, raspberries and cherries as these help to fight free radical damage that’s caused by the sun.
In particular, tomatoes are known for their sun-protective benefits. They contain a special antioxidant called lycopene, which is proven to help prevent sun damage caused by UV light. Studies show that levels of lycopene are highest in tomato paste, and one piece of research revealed a 30 percent increase in skin protection when participants consumed 55g of tomato paste every day for 12 weeks. Tomatoes release more lycopene when cooked, so add fresh tomatoes and tomato paste into stews, soups and curries for a potent dose.
Long haul travel is as exciting as it is exhausting and, if soaring up to 10,000 feet leaves you prone to motion sickness, make sure that you’ve got some ginger on hand. This zesty spice (when taken in concentrated capsule form; not exceeding a total split dose of 1,000mg daily) helps reduce vomiting by improving intestinal muscle tone. The special gingerol compounds contained in the root can help to relieve nausea and abdominal pain, hence why it’s often used to treat morning sickness in pregnancy. Be prepared. Chewing on a few pieces of crystallised ginger or sipping ginger tea (bring the teabags with you and ask your air steward for a cup of hot water) will help you avoid a nauseous flying nightmare.
An unsettled tum will probably mean that plane food is the last thing you feel like eating, so keep some fruit and a couple of packets of wholemeal crackers or oatcakes in your handbag, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated en route to your destination.
Sun, sea and… sickness! Sampling new cuisines is one of the best things about jetting off on holiday, but it’s estimated that between 30 to 80 percent of us suffer from traveller’s diarrhoea when we’re away. Being struck with a tummy bug is a surefire way to ruin any trip, but the good news is that there’s plenty you can do to recover if you suffer a food-borne illness.
Firstly, hydration is key as you’ll need to replace lost fluids, so chug back plain H20. If you can get your hands on some coconut water this may help to speed up recovery time – the juice from the exotic fruit replenishes electrolyte levels. Sipping on peppermint tea can also help to soothe your digestive tract, so make sure to pack a few teabags in your suitcase just in case it’s not readily available where you are. And once you’re beginning to get your appetite back again, start eating slowly. Oats are gentle on your tum as they contain glutamine which nourishes the GI tract. Have a small bowl made with water and avoid fatty, spicy foods until you’re fully recovered.
If past experience has already told you that you’re pretty much a mozzie magnet when the sun’s out, make sure that you pack citronella patches (which you stick onto your clothes) if you’re heading off to humid, hot climes this summer. Extracted from lemongrass, citronella contains zesty volatile oils like citronellol which act as a natural repellent, reducing the odds of pesky bites.
And, unfortunately, it’s not just mosquitoes you need to worry about. Summer is the season for outdoor bugs! Whilst picnics and barbecues are synonymous with summer holiday fun, spending time al fresco also invites unwelcome visitors like ticks, which are commonly found in grass, bushes and trees. Studies show, however, that what you eat can make a difference to whether or not you’re bitten, and there’s evidence that chowing down on garlic-based foods helps to avoid bites. It’s thought that the pungent odour of the bulb helps to mask your natural scent so the bugs are less attracted to you.
After months of being covered up, skin takes a while to get used to the sun’s strong rays, and unfortunately sunburn isn’t the only thing you need to worry about. Prickly heat (otherwise known as heat rash) is a common summer complaint which is triggered by blocked sweat ducts. It shows up as unsightly red bumps and, although it’s not dangerous, it is very annoying. The best way to protect yourself is by loading up on brightly-hued yellow foods like carrots, sweet potato and mangoes a couple of weeks before you head off on holiday. The yellow pigment found in these foods is rich in beta-carotene which turns to vitamin A, and this nutrient is thought to improve tolerance to the sun. If you do get struck with a bout of prickly heat, eat more foods rich in skin-loving vitamin C to speed up healing. These include kiwi fruit, oranges and strawberries.
3 must-buys to beat the season’s biggest complaints
1. Apple cider vinegar
Remember that you can still get burned on an overcast day so don’t forget to layer on a high SPF (no less than factor 30). If you still go a little red, have a cool bath with a few drops of apple cider vinegar to soothe skin, and apply aloe vera or coconut oil to relieve inflammation and moisturise the skin.
2. Tea tree oil
If you’re unlucky enough to be bitten, cooling tea tree oil can help to stop the itching from driving you nuts. Simply dab some on a piece of cotton wool and apply to the affected area as and when needed.
Too much sun can leave you prone to heat exhaustion. If you’re struck with mild sunstroke, make watermelon your go-to fruit – its high water content will help you to rehydrate, whilst the natural sugars it contains help to boost energy levels.
Louise Pyne is a registered nutritionist (louisepynenutrition.com)
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