A Trio of Travel Companions
With summer on the way, vacation and travel plans often come as well. Whether one travels to the tropics or above the Arctic Circle, there are a few staple, very portable items which may make your vacation much more pleasant, safe, and healthy. There are three essentials which can literally protect you while you enjoy your leisure time. Some travel destinations will benefit more from these preparations than others, and we will look at the wheres, hows, and whys.
Many Oregonians seek the sun on their vacations, whether it be escaping cold, gray January here, or our own bright summers in the mountains or coast. Unlike in the 1960s and 1970s, when baby oil-slathered roasting bodies were the norm, we now know the damage the sun can do to the skin, and seek to protect ourselves. A "healthy tan" simply does not exist anymore. When skin darkens, as in a tan, or reddens, it means there has been an inflammatory response at the cellular level. Collagen, as well as DNA, is damaged. While the results of prolonged or unprotected sun exposure may result in uneven pigmentation, dark spots, and wrinkles, continued assault on skin's DNA may result in skin cancer. Luckily, with today's sun knowledge, we also have effective, natural sun protection.
Look for products with broad-spectrum protection, if possible, as well as products which do not use chemical UV absorbers such as oxybenzone or PABA. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (minerals) repeatedly have been shown to be safe and effective in blocking UV rays. Zinc oxide blocks both UVA and UVB rays completely, and titanium dioxide completely blocks UVB and partially blocks UVA rays.
Evergreen carries a variety of natural sunscreen products, in a range of SPF ratings. Local favorite Keys makes an extraordinarily clean moisturizer with SPF 30+. Solar Rx features the broad-spectrum protection of zinc oxide, with a soothing base of shea butter and avocado seed oil. MyChelle Dermaceuticals has their Sun Shield line, available in stick, spray, or cream versions, with different SPF ratings. Enjoying the sun is still possible while simultaneously protecting your precious skin.
As well as gut health, probiotics enhance immune health. This combination is particularly well-suited for travel of any kind. Many times the stresses of travel can not only challenge one's digestive system but also take a toll on the immune system. In particular, long air travel through multiple time zones is difficult on the body. In addition to the disruption in the body's circadian rhythm, the simple breathing of stale, recycled air with a host of possibly sick co-passengers can weaken one's system and lead to becoming sick as one begins their trip. Not an ideal start to your vacation.
If traveling in a third-world country, where the water or food may be contaminated with pathogenic organisms, it is difficult enough to remain healthy. With the dual mechanisms of action, supporting intestinal microflora (and thus intestinal health) and immune response, a shelf-stable, travel-friendly probiotic can keep you healthy and free from sickness of many kinds while away from home. Jarrow Formulas' Jarro-Dophilus EPS is room-temperature stable and does not require refrigeration. It is gluten free and comes in a convenient blister-pack making it very portable. Another traveler's friend is Genuine Health's advanced gut health probiotic, which comes in several strengths and is vegan and gluten free.
It is estimated that one fifth of the world's population suffers from protozoan infections. Tourist infection is not limited to tropical areas, despite popular perception. Parasites are found in the water we drink and the food we eat. Parasitic infections may be linked with other diseases, such as Crohn's disease and pulmonary conditions. Traveler's diarrhea is a common occurrence where food and water may be tainted.
Luckily there is another traveler's friend which is as effective as any amoebicide available and does not have unwanted side-effects. Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) is a highly antimicrobial substance, and has been tested on and shown to be successful at treating/preventing pathogens ranging from E. coli to salmonella to giardia. It is safe and non-toxic. When traveling in places where food or water is suspect, one may either take the tablet version, or add a few drops of the liquid to your water, which will purify that water as well as protect you from pathogens daily. This is a cost-effective, easy way to protect yourself from an incredible number of possible food-borne and water-borne pathogens. It may be used also as a vegetable or other food wash by simply mixing a few drops into the wash water. It is a superb disinfectant, more effective and stronger than bleach, for example. When traveling in third-world countries, the combination of GSE with a good shelf-stable probiotic may make all the difference between a trip spent in misery in bathrooms or an enjoyable vacation.
Take some simple precautions, and a few easily-carried items with you on your next trip, and protect yourself inside and out!
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