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Tropical Travel 101: Staying Healthy While on Vacation.

Tropical Travel 101: Staying Healthy While on Vacation.

Hello friends of pureBalance Wellness Centre and fellow health enthusiasts,

I recently, went on a mid-winter trip to sunny Dominican republic for a little rest and relaxation and to get away from the semi-cold temperatures of Toronto. Going to the Caribbean can be an exciting time for your whole family as long as everyone stays healthy and no one falls victim to some common health pit falls associated with traveling to tropical countries. Some of the most common issues that can derail your vacation are sunburns, heat stroke, traveller’s diarrhea, hepatitis, influenza, constipation and many others. I want to share with you a number of very effective natural health tips and strategies that you and your families can employ to reduce the chance of getting common illnesses so all you bring back to Canada is good memories and a dark tan. In the case of tropical vacations, an ounce of prevention really equals a pound of cure.

Prepare your gut: Some of the most common problems experienced when travelling to a foreign country is digestive upset, nausea and diarrhea from a viral or bacterial infection. Always check with resort authorities about the safety and filtration of drinking water, tap water and ice cubes. An effective way of preventing harmful bugs from affecting your digestive system is to take beneficial bacteria and yeast as a preventive measure. Take probiotics and a beneficial yeast, Saccharomyces boulardii, a week before leaving for your trip and during your whole stay. Both these “good bugs” will prevent harmful bacteria from causing harm your system. The added benefit of these 2 supplements is that they will improve your digestion and boost your overall immune system.

Water, water, water: Often the most common thing over looked when traveling is to maintain an adequate intake of water. On vacation we usually opt for alcoholic beverages which actually end up further dehydrating our bodies. Coupled with the intense sun exposure and change in routine, we can easily get dehydrated without realizing it. This can be dangerous and predispose us to sunstroke, headaches and even constipation. A good rule is 2 litres daily or 4 big glasses of water throughout the day.

Get your zzz’s: Sleep is probably the most important factor in preventing illness and it often is the first thing to suffer on vacation. We are often up late getting ready for the trip the week before leaving and then stay up later than usual during our vacation. When we don’t get enough sleep our immune system is weakened. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep the whole week before you leave and while you are on vacation. Insider’s tip: If you have difficulty sleeping or get jet lagged after flying, try taking melatonin one hour before going to bed especially the first few nights of your vacation. It will help your bed adapt to the change in location and time.

Protect your skin: Everyone loves a great tan to show off to your friends when you come back from your vacation but a severe sunburn early in your trip will cause you a great deal of discomfort, not to mention increase your risk of future skin cancer and wrinkles. A good strategy is to start slowly with your sun exposure and to use sunscreen right from the start. When it comes to most cosmetics, unfortunately many common brands contain chemicals that have long term harmful effects despite blocking the sun. Luckily, there is a great resource available at www.ewg.org/2011sunscreen/. Visit the website to learn if your sunscreen is safe and what are some safe and healthy options.

Insider tip: for maximal sunburn protection supplement with the potent antioxidant called astaxanthin. Even Dr Oz has featured powerful benefits of this natural supplement for cardiovascular and eye health.

Tropical vacations can be a perfect mid-winter break to recharge your batteries and boost your vitamin D levels but protect yourself and your loved ones with the aforementioned simple strategies. Talk to the Naturopathic doctors at pureBalance Wellness Centre for more information about preparing for your trip or if you have any questions concerning travel related illness prevention and treatment. Remember to always follow the dosing instructions on the supplement bottle or use as recommended by your doctor.

We wish you Bon Voyage and a restful vacation.

Dr Paul Hrkal ND



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