When it comes to staving off bacterial infections during hot weather, Bio-Kult’s Technical Advisor, Kim Plaza offered her advice.
1. Ward off bites and stings
Insect bites during hot weather can be a pesky and an unsightly annoyance. Warmer temperatures generally means there are more critters about, such as mosquitos, gnats, midges, ants, bees, wasps, ticks and more. Some people seem to be particularly prone to being bitten, potentially due to body temperature, odour and certain chemical compounds excreted in your sweat.
Kim said: “Prevention against bites and stings becoming infected, is most effective if we can avoid being bitten in the first place! It’s recommended to wear light-weight long-sleeved tops and trousers or long skirts to reduce the amount of exposed skin in the early morning and evenings (when many insects are at their most active).
“Natural insect repellents such as citronella, clove and lemon eucalyptus oils may also help deter biters. Avoid camping and picnics close to stagnant water which are often breeding grounds for insects.
“Many people swear that supplementing vitamin B1 for a couple of weeks before going abroad and whilst away reduces the number of mosquito bites. The most commonly used dose is 100mg a day. Whilst human clinical trials to support this remedy are lacking, taking some extra B vitamins for a couple of weeks may be worth a go, for other health aspects, such as energy and skin support.”
READ MORE Pharmacist tips for treating the most common insect bites and stings
2. Support your gut
If travelling abroad, you’re likely to experience new microbes that your immune system is not accustomed to which could lead to digestive upsets.
Kim said: “A study of 2800 foreign travellers, saw 34 percent with travellers’ diarrhoea. Most cases are caused by consuming contaminated drinking water, liquid or food, with common symptoms including vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal cramps.
“Studies show that live bacteria could significantly reduce the risk of travellers’ diarrhoea, with a mixture of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium or the friendly yeast S. boulardii being particularly effective.
“Did you know that approximately 70 percent of active immune cells reside in the gut? Taking a daily live bacteria supplement, such as Bio-Kult Boosted, is a great strategy to support digestion and immune function. Bio-Kult Boosted (RRP £24.98, www.bio-kult.com) also contains vitamin B12, which is known to support the immune system. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated either, so taking it away with you on your travels is easy and convenient!”
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3. Keep hydrated
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be distracting, uncomfortable and at times, downright painful. Unfortunately, research suggests that UTIs (often referred to as cystitis) are more prevalent in the summer months, when the weather is warmer.
Kim said: “To decrease your chances of picking up an infection, it’s recommended to stay well hydrated by drinking two litres of water a day (more in higher temperatures, or if exercising).
“People tend to drink more alcohol whilst on holidays (after all, who doesn’t love sipping a cocktail whilst watching the sunset?) Unfortunately however, alcohol may be dehydrating, upset digestion and disrupt sleep. Have a night off every few days and try to limit the number of drinks you have, interspersing them with water to stay hydrated. Avoid sugary mixers and instead try mixing spirits with soda water and fresh lime, or turning white wine into a spritzer.”
4. Eat well
Hot weather welcomes BBQs, but cheap burgers topped with processed cheese simply don’t cut the mustard anymore, said Kim.
She added: “Where possible, opt for organic grass-fed meat. Not only can you be sure the animal has been reared to high animal welfare standards, but organic meat has been shown to have up to 47 percent higher levels of omega 3 essential fatty acids, which emerging research indicates could support certain immune cells. Serve your BBQ with an array of rainbow coloured salads, topped with nuts and seeds, to ensure you are getting a variety of immune supportive nutrients such as; vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc and selenium.
“Vitamin C is also beneficial for immune function, shown to shorten the duration of colds by up to eight percent and reduce severity. Strawberries and other berries are a delicious source of vitamin C and luckily grown in abundance during the summer months. Go berry picking for strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, elderberries and black currants to top up on this immune supporting anti-oxidant.”
5. Be hygiene conscious
We can become ill from germs by direct contact or we might pick up a virus by touching contaminated surfaces or objects.
Kim said: “Washing hands frequently can help prevent the spread of infection, however many commercial soaps and anti-bacterial products contain harsh chemicals. A more natural solution is to make your own hand sanitiser by adding a few drops of antimicrobial essential oils (such as clove, sage, rosemary cinnamon, lavender or orange) to aloe-vera gel. Store the mixture in a little bottle that’s easy to carry in your day bag at summer festivals and other times where you are at increased risk of picking up infections.”
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