Summer vacations don’t have to mean a big blow to your health, says Henrietta Norton
Hopefully, you’ll be spending at least some of the summer on sun-drenched shores, indulging in plenty of delicious food and drink. But, just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean you need to leave all healthy intentions behind. Here are my top tips to ensure you stay healthy on holiday…
Travelling can be tiring and expose us to foods we’re not used to, making us vulnerable to bloating, nausea, diarrhoea and general sickness. Healthy gut flora will play a role in boosting your defence against infectious bacteria and reducing the bloat associated with low levels of good bugs.
Use a high-quality beneficial bacteria product before you embark on your travels, such as a multi-strain biotic. Eat plenty of meals that include fermented foods, such as sauerkraut (easily found in health stores) and kimchi (Asian fermented cabbage and spices), and try drinking coconut water kefir to feed the growth of good bugs in your digestive system.
You may also want to try supplementing your diet with herbs, such as oregano, garlic, grapefruit seed extract and olive leaf, both before you go away and during your stay, as these ingredients contain natural antibacterial and anti-microbial compounds to combat bad bacteria.
Take advantage of your time in the sun to boost your vitamin D levels, taking care to find a happy medium so you avoid skin damage and premature ageing. We’re only able to get 10 percent of our required vitamin D from food and can’t rely on the unpredictable UK weather, so topping up on holiday is essential. Remember that vitamin D is vital for the health of our bones, teeth and immune system, as well as our mental wellbeing, and deficiencies have been linked to female gynaecological and fertility issues.
To protect your skin from sun damage and premature ageing, you should already be eating a ‘rainbow’ diet of colourful vegetables to provide you with an array of food-based antioxidants. For increased support, top up with an antioxidant supplement one month before you go away.
And, of course, don’t forget sun cream and remember to take frequent breaks from the heat.
One of the best ways to help your body adjust to a time zone change is to manage your exposure to bright light. If it’s daytime at your destination, get out into the sunlight as much as possible for as long as possible, and similarly avoid light to induce a feeling of sleepiness if you arrive after dark. If you’re really good at forward planning, try adjusting to your destination time zone around three days before you travel, by going to bed later or earlier depending on the time difference. You could also try a supplement: Wild Nutrition’s Food-Grown Wild Traveller provides key nutrients including NADH, which support your health and energy during long-haul travel.
Jet lag isn’t just about sleep, it can also make us feel under the weather, withdrawn, sluggish, achy and dehydrated. Disturbed sleep affects the nervous system and adrenal glands (which control hormones including the stress hormone, cortisol), so make sure you build up your defences with an immune support supplement leading up to your trip.
Taking B vitamins, such as B12 and B6, helps support a healthy immune system that may become vulnerable with jet lag and boosts energy levels while reducing recovery time from tiredness and fatigue. Vitamin B1 has also been used successfully as a way to reduce pesky mosquito bites.
Magnesium is the energy mineral and not only does it help us recover from tiredness, it supports the health of our nervous system, making it ideal for anyone who gets nervous from flying or generally feels worn out on holiday.
Blood levels of melatonin have been shown to increase with increased consumption of foods rich in melatonin, including cherries, pomegranates, oats, grapes, olive oil, tomatoes.
Henrietta Norton is a nutritional therapist, author and co-founder of Wild Nutrition (wildnutrition.com). She has clinics at Grace Belgravia and SP & Co in London.
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