How to Stay Healthy on Holiday
by Dr. Sarah Brewer
A Nutritionist and Doctor
Vomiting and diarrhoea –affectionately referred to as Delhi Belly, Montezuma's Revenge or Torremolinos Trots - is the commonest health problem to strike travellers abroad. Up to half of those visiting tropical regions are affected, along with 10% of visitors to European resorts. Attention to hygiene is vital, to help avoid spending precious days in your holiday bathroom, nice as it may be.
- Wash hands thoroughly before eating, and use an antiseptic hand gel as well – take a small one with you in hand luggage (under 100ml for airport security) to use on the plane, too
- For drinking, brushing your teeth, preparing food or cooking, use:
-- Water from sealed bottles; carbonated is safer than still water as it's less likely to have been filled from the tap
-- Freshly boiled and cooled water
-- Water sterilised with purification tablets
- Avoid green salads and uncooked vegetables (as they may have been rinsed in dirty water)
- Only eat fruits that can be peeled
- Avoid ice cubes unless made from safe water
- Avoid ice creams from unreliable sources
- Avoid unpasteurised milk - boil if unsure
- Avoid food exposed to the sun or to flies, especially snacks bought from roadside vendors
- Sea, river and swimming pool water may be contaminated. Keep your head out of the water and try not to swallow any. If water looks obviously murky, don't go swimming.
Perhaps my best holiday health tip, however, is to take a probiotic supplement before, during and after your travels. These protective digestive bacteria help to reduce the risk of succumbing to an unpleasant bout of gastroenteritis and have even been shown to reduce the severity of infections by nasty bugs such as Salmonella, Shigella and Clostridium.
Bon voyage, and bon appetite.