Long Haul Health Travel Hazards

(Average reading time: 3 minutes, 30 seconds)

If sunshine, cocktails and delicious local cuisine are about to feature in your plans don’t forget to pack some vitamin C, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Glutathione.

The holiday season is well and truly underway and the prospect of long lazy days in the sun may soon become a reality for many of us. Although trips to France and Spain still appear to be amongst the favourite destinations, flights to long haul destinations have sky-rocketed in the last two decades. In 2017 the International Air Transport Association reported that a staggering 1.5 billion passengers flew to the Asia-Pacific region.

If you’re one of those adventurous travellers, your expectations for the perfect holiday destination may be even higher than usual, especially if you’ve been planning and looking forward to it all year. You want to make sure your holiday is the blissful getaway you’ve been anticipating and not a holiday horror story!

Although cheaper flights have made a broader range of holiday destinations accessible to a greater number of people, trips to far flung places often bring more worries than usual especially in terms of health.

To put your mind at ease we’ve got some great solutions…

Travel anxiety

The prospect of travelling somewhere new should be exciting but there are a percentage of people that find the whole experience traumatising. The queuing, security checks, noise, heat, delays, worry about baggage allowance, bored kids etc. can trigger a roller coaster of stress and anxiety and may leave you feeling exhausted by the time you reach your destination.

Tackling stress can be helped by including lots of magnesium rich foods in your diet in the run up to your holiday. Magnesium contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and normal psychological function, so it may offer great support, just when you need it. For extra magnesium include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts
  • Fresh tuna
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Whole grains

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

DVT is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep inside the leg. In normal circumstances blood flows quickly through veins due to leg movements. Muscles in the legs squeeze the veins, preventing the likelihood of clots.

The cramped environment on an aeroplane limits the amount of movement possible and may cause circulation to become sluggish, or it may damage blood vessel walls which could lead to an increased tendency for a clot to form.

The risk of developing a clot is generally low, but it is higher in certain circumstances i.e.:

  • If you smoke
  • You are over 40
  • On the pill or HRT
  • Overweight
  • Pregnant
  • Have varicose veins
  • Recently had surgery

Moving around where possible during a flight is recommended, drinking lots of water, avoiding alcohol and wearing compression stockings can also improve circulation.

Keeping the blood vessels strong and healthy helps too. Making sure you eat plenty of vitamin C rich fruit and vegetables is one of the ways you can help to maintain blood vessels because vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of blood vessels.

Jet lag

Before you’ve even arrived at your destination you must consider how you are going to combat the effects of jet lag. This is a common long-haul travel complaint and can last for several days.

Overwhelming fatigue and sleepiness are the most common side-effects of jet lag, so apart from a good night’s sleep you also need a quick injection of vitality in order to make the most of your holiday.

If you manage to eat lots of magnesium rich foods you might fare better than others, because magnesium contributes to a reduction of tiredness and fatigue as well as contributing to normal energy-yielding metabolism.

However, if the hotel menu isn’t offering much in the way of green leafy vegetables or nuts and seeds, taking a high quality well absorbed magnesium supplement can offer valuable nutritional support.

Traveller’s tummy

An estimated 30-70% of travellers who visit high-risk parts of the world suffer from traveller’s diarrhoea. Contaminated water is usually the culprit in countries that may not have the high level of sanitation we enjoy in Europe.

Bottled water is an easy solution, plus you should remember not to clean your toothbrush in tap water, eat salads rinsed in local water or drink anything with ice in it.

it’s also worth filling up on fibre rich foods so that you can encourage the healthy bacteria in your gut to flourish. 80-90% of traveller’s diarrhoea is due to pathogenic bacteria, so crowding out troublesome bacteria with beneficial bacteria is the best strategy.

Fruit and vegetables are great sources of fibre as are beans, legumes and whole grains. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and live yoghurt also provide the body with healthy bacteria.

Don’t forget that diarrhoea combined with too much sun, heat and alcohol can leave you significantly dehydrated so it pays to drink plenty of water and add an electrolyte rehydration drink to help replace lost electrolytes.

You could even make your own by adding some magnesium and a pinch of salt to orange juice. Research shows that magnesium contributes to electrolyte balance.

Sun burn

Investing in a good sunscreen is a must if you are heading for some hot summer sun, but to really give your skin a helping hand top up with antioxidants before you go. Fruit and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants are the ideal foods to include in your holiday preparation plan.

Vitamin C is particularly helpful because it contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of skin as well as contributing to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.

Whilst you’re on holiday, the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables might be limited, so taking a good range of high quality well absorbed supplements is a good idea. Vitamin C and Alpha Lipoic Acid are great choices in these circumstances and if the cocktails are flowing, glutathione can also offer valuable nutritional support.

Good nutrition and planning ahead is a good way to ensure a happy, healthy holiday.

Author – Jacqueline Newson BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy

Kick that anxiety!

(Average reading time: 4 minutes, 22 seconds)

If one may trust NHS’s statistics, then it appears that only 5% of our population have an anxiety disorder. This is not a bad figure at all; hence, we shouldn’t treat it as a significant problem – right?

By working in the health shop, I see real everyday people who have a severe anxiety disorder, or other symptoms, that are connected to anxiety. It is important to remember that the people who visit health shops have already some degree of understanding about well being, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. So if half of the people with this mindset have the anxiety issues, then what about the ones who live in the darkness of wellbeing? By relaying in this logic, please forgive me if I come across a little sceptical about the “5%” claim by NHS.

The real problem lies in the fact that having anxiety in our life, becomes a sort of “Status Quo”. It is now standard to feel this way. One may even feel slight guilt if the feeling is absent for a moment as this can be translated to; not doing enough. Our lives have become constant battles in the war of nonsense, where we genuinely believe that if we meet the next deadline, or solve the next issue, then everything will be calm and splendid again, like it was before; no matter that we can’t remember when was the “before”, nor how did it feel like. We are living in a society where everyone believes that being successful means having to sacrifice our peace of mind.

So are we doomed?
Not at all. The good news is that it is so much you can do! Below I share some of the advice that if followed, can indeed be one of the essential steps that you have taken in your adult life, in order to turn the battle against the anxiety around to your favour.

1. Analyse your day to day life and the feelings that it creates.
If you feel the constant rush and adrenaline shots that are released in your body, then it is time to accept that you may have a problem and that you may need to do something about it. A most potent way to admit to yourself is to share it with people who are close to you.

2. Change the day to day rules.
Make notes of the triggering points. If running after a bus is one of the triggering factors, then make the new rule. You always must skip the first bus, even if you can take it with no rush. Obviously, this logic won’t work if you live in a rural area where a bus comes once every hour. I am talking about cities such as London, where the next bus is pretty much always 5 minutes away.
If the triggering factor is; you not being able to choose which shirt to wear or what to have for the breakfast, then use the “Always right” rule. Choose the item that is positioned on the right-hand side. So what if you are ending up wearing that pink shirt or having a bland oat porridge; as a result – the important thing is that you are training your subconscious mind about the new way of thinking, where the anxiety has no room.
Perhaps it’s not what triggers it, but who triggers? Although this can be a blog on its own, remember to fight for your boundaries, and do not be afraid to be assertive if someone mistreats you! Speak to people who are close to you, and seek help from the authorities if you are a victim of bullying.

3. Meditation is not for everyone!
One may read this and take me for a hypocrite, as I am one of the most pro meditation fanatics there is. If you are the person who can successfully meditate at least 20 minutes per day, then you have won half of the war already. Nevertheless, if the meditation itself becomes a triggering point for the anxiety, then find alternative ways to exercise mindfulness. Although we want the stay away from staring at electronic devices, playing easy going games such as Angry Birds, Candy Crash or Tetris, can be an alternative way to fight the anxiety. Word of warning, though! Don’t start using this as a way to escape every time there are minor symptoms; you may then confuse the mindfulness with escaping!
Or perhaps, absorbing the texture of the food that you put in your mouth and eating slowly can also help to live in the moment; hence, allows you being mindful.

4. Seek help from those supplements, such as:

CBD hemp oil
CBD oil is thought to work with a brain receptor called CB1. Receptors are tiny proteins attached to your cells that receive chemical signals from different stimuli and help your cells respond.

The exact way CBD affects CB1 is not fully understood. However, it’s thought that it alters serotonin signals. Serotonin is one of your body’s chemicals and plays a role in your mental health. Low serotonin levels are common in depression. Not having enough serotonin can also cause anxiety in some people.

Ashwagandha
The results, published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, showed that ashwagandha benefits just about every measure of stress. Compared to those who got the placebo, those taking ashwagandha had 28 per cent lower levels of cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone.” While cortisol is helpful in small amounts, it causes problems when you’re battling chronic stress when your cortisol levels may remain mildly elevated for extended periods.

Rhodiola
If you have social anxiety, general anxiety disorder (GAD), panic attacks, or you just feel nervous in general; then you’ll often need a supplement that will make you feel calm but not sleepy.

Rhodiola reduces the stress hormone cortisol significantly, and it makes a lot of people feel very relaxed, focused, and terrific because it also stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin – the body’s “happy” or “feel good” neurotransmitters.

Lemon Balm
Lemon balm has a direct impact on the nervous system, soothing and calming frayed nerves. Known as a relaxing nervine, lemon balm relaxes, soothes and supports the nervous system as a whole.

Fun fact: Lemon balm has long been used as a remedy for the nerves. Hippocrates, Galen, Culpepper and even Shakespeare all spoke of its attributes. There are also records of Thomas Jefferson growing lemon balm at Monticello. Around 1696, John Evelyn wrote that “balm is sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory and powerfully chasing away melancholy.

Avena Sativa
Avena Sativa has been used since the Middle Ages to support mental health, primarily to combat anxiety and balance mood. Modern science has identified Sicilic acid, arginine and triterpenoid saponins called avenocosides as the active compounds responsible for this herb’s nootropic effects.

Avena Sativa has been found to inhibit the production of “monoamine oxidase-B” (MAO-B), an enzyme which regulates the exact amount of dopamine we need in the brain. As we age, MOA-B levels increase, causing dopamine levels to fall. Research has shown that inhibition of this enzyme preserves brain function by protecting dopamine. Thus Avena Sativa can work as an anti-depressant, reduce anxiety and help with stress levels.

The magic of magnesium.
In my opinion, regardless of what kind of supplement you are deciding to start taking (check the list above), ensure that we are combining it with magnesium. Not only you will see benefits that are helping to relax your muscles, but magnesium itself is also a perfect natural antidepressant. Be warned though, that full benefits may occur in some cases only after three weeks of taking it; hence, don’t give up too early!

Let us tackle this little “anxiety monster”, and show to it, who is the boss! If you ever need any additional (free) advice, then pop by our shop, and we will be happy to share it with you – with no obligations to you!

Final tip:
If you were anxious, just count to Zen!

What’s your present to you this Christmas?

(Average reading time: 3minutes, 42 seconds)

A few mornings with a banging headache after a few too many Christmas spirits?

Maybe a stomach ache because your eyes were bigger than your belly?
Or a few more pounds to lose than the original plan.
(Insert other festive over-indulgences here).

It may be too late to change how it’s going to go down, your diary is already booked up months in advance for drinks & dinners with all your friends and family, and no-one wants to cancel. Christmas is such a fun time of year to catch up and connect with those we love; it’s only our wallets and health that really take a bashing.

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