14 Aug Fun Monday – Why Holidays are healthy!
Your long-awaited holiday is just around the corner and you are looking forward to a good rest and a chance to let your hair down. But a holiday break offers more health benefits than meets the eye.
It’s the ideal opportunity to get in shape and discover new experiences that can be integrated into your life back home.
According to sports dieticians it’s possible to lose two pounds a week with a small amount of daily exercise on holiday.
And, tasting new dishes could expand your cooking repertoire and become the start of a healthier lifestyle.
According to nutritionists variety really is the spice of life. Research from Japan concludes that if you increase the variety of food you eat on a typical day, you’re more
likely to meet the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals (five portions of fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruit and veg a day) needed to fight disease and maintain healthy bones and organs.
Spending time in a hot country means you can indulge in plenty of salads, fresh fruit and juices. And, says Frankie Robinson of the British Nutrition Foundation, holidays often inspire you to try out different dishes.
‘Mediterranean cuisine tends to contain a wide variety of seasonal vegetables and many tropical countries offer an abundance of exotic fruit. If you enjoy new food, you’re more likely to continue eating it once you get home. And by recreating your favourite dishes, you can pretend you are on holiday at home.’
But, she warns, it can take several days for your stomach to adapt to a new diet.
‘If you notice more bloating than usual, caused by fibre absorbing water in the gut, don’t panic. This means your stomach is simply adapting to new food,’ she says.
The message that sunlight can cause skin cancer is loud and clear. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. Around 50,000 people are diagnosed with the illness each year. Of these, more than 2,000 are likely to die from the condition.
However, evidence suggests that sunlight can help prevent some conditions. Lack of sunlight is thought to trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – a depressive condition experienced in the winter months. So if you suffer from bouts of sadness, going on holiday may help to alleviate symptoms of depression.
Research also shows blood levels of vitamin D are lowest in winter months when the sun is rarely out. When exposed to sunlight, the body has the ability to convert vitamin A from the sun into vitamin D. This helps strengthen the immune system and is needed to bind calcium to bones and generates teeth development.
Holidays provide the perfect opportunity to catch up on sleep. Sleep deprivation through stress or work can lead to poor mental performance, premature ageing and even illness.
While we are asleep our bodies undergo certain important processes – from repair and renewal to energy restoration. According to scientists, deep sleep – rather than length of sleep – is the time when the brain recharges itself so we can function effectively during the day.
Sleep is also important for our immune system – the part of the body that is responsible for fighting infection. Some scientists believe that during sleep we secrete higher levels of cortisol – the hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that protects the immune system – than during the day.
Holidays boost health for a month after returning…and even alter genes to enhance immune system. So make sure you maximize and enjoy your holiday whether its just a long weekend or a getaway with the family.