The summer months are all about jetting off to sun-drenched shores, indulging in plenty of R&R and freely feasting on local cuisine, so it’s not surprising that many of us leave our healthy-living intentions behind as soon as we touch down.
But just because you’re taking a break from the real world doesn’t mean you can’t keep on track of your health with these dietary tweaks from top nutritionist and founder of Wild Nutrition Henrietta Norton.
From boosting your skin’s natural sun protection to banishing the threat of a dreaded upset stomach, here are seven ways to ensure you stay healthy on holiday.
1. Balance your gut
Travelling can be stressful and tiring, making us vulnerable to picking up unwanted gut-based symptoms such as bloating, wind, 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 good quality beneficial bacteria product before you embark on your travels, such as Wild Nutrition’s 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. These powerful herbs and spices contain natural antibacterial and anti-microbial compounds that will give bad bacteria their marching orders.
2. Boost your Vitamin D levels
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% 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, while deficiencies have been linked to female gynaecological and fertility issues.
3. Protect your skin with ‘colour’
To protect your skin from sun damage and premature ageing, you should already be eating a ‘rainbow’ diet of colorful vegetables (such as beetroot, red cabbage, red peppers, carrots, pumpkin and sweet potatoes) to provide you with an array of food-based antioxidants. For increased support, I recommend topping up with an antioxidant supplement one month before you go away.
4. Prepare for the long-haul
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, then 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 for 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-State Wild Traveller provides key nutrients including NADH, approved by NASA for supporting your health and energy during long-haul travel.
5. Build your defences
Jet lag isn’t just about sleep; it can also make us feel under the weather, withdrawn, sluggish, stiff, achy and dehydrated. Its effect on the nervous system and adrenal glands can be a challenge for many, so make sure you build up your defences with an immune support supplement leading up to your trip.
6. Boost your Bs
Taking B vitamins, such as B12 and B6, helps support a healthy immune system (which 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.
7. Mind your Ms
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.