Summertime and the livin’ is easy ... except for those of you who suffer from the typical summer health issues. To fully enjoy trips to the beach, barbeques in the park, swimming in the sea etc, follow these tips to help prevent and deal with the most common summer health complaints.
Allergic to the season
Birch and grass are the main sources of pollen allergies in Denmark, causing typical hay fever symptoms. Birch’s short, sharp season peaks in April/May whilst grass counts peak in June with a protracted season lasting from May to September. Daily pollen counts can be viewed on DMI’s website. The birch season in particular can be ferocious. While a pollen count of 50 particles per million is considered a bad day by hay fever sufferers, the birch counts can rise as high as two or three thousand. It is not uncommon for first-time visitors to the country to be unaware of their allergy and presume they have caught flu.
A pre-emptive strike
The only real remedy for pollen allergies is prevention. Consult your doctor regarding treatments, although it is recommended that you consider beginning treatment with a homeopath or naturopath or nutritionist or kinesiologist a few months prior to allergy season to build up resistance. Effective treatment should include a combination of dietary changes and supplementation, plus a therapy such as reflexology or acupuncture for added
The home defence
There are also several home remedies that will help alleviate symptoms once you have them. Use saline water nasal cleanse to wash out offending allergens and mucous. Either purchase a neti-pot or use a squeeze bottle. Combine one litre of distilled water with two to three tablespoons of sea salt. Tilt your head sideways over the sink, pour the solution in one nostril, letting it drain out of the other. Repeat with other nostril. Or you could drink stinging nettle tea as a natural anti-histamine (brew it for 15 minutes). And to clear congestion: fill a bowl with very warm boiled then cooled tap water, add two to four drops of eucalyptus essential oil, and place your face over the bowl with a towel draped over your head to form a mini-sauna.
Evil under the Scandinavian sun
Do not underestimate the strength of the Danish sun. Scandinavia received a warning last year as the ozone layer above us has became particularly thin. You can check daily ozone ratings on DMI’s website. Protection is better than cure and it is necessary during the Danish summer months.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat, avoid the midday sun, eat a diet high in antioxidant foods throughout the year to build up natural skin protection (especially berries, tomatoes, bell peppers, rosehips, green leafy vegetables) and finally, of course, regularly apply sunscreen. Note: not all sunscreens are created equal. Commercial sunscreens containing Vtiamin A or retinyl palmitate actually accelerate the growth of skin tumours. Read the label first – not all products labelled ‘natural, organic’ are actually safe. Some contain only one percent natural, organic ingredients. You can check your sunscreen’s safety rating on EWG’s website.
Home remedies for effective, instant relief from sunburn include applying aloe vera gel directly from the plant or buying ready-made gel from health food shops (ensure it contains at least 97 percent aloe) and reapplying hourly; and applying vinegar (apple cider/white) to sunburnt skin, every few hours.
Festival fun without the runs
For festival fans, the last thing you want (other than going prematurely deaf) is to catch Roskildesyge (Roskilde sickness, otherwise known as norovirus or gastroenteritis). Symptoms of this unpleasant stomach virus are diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pain for up to two days. Antibiotics do not work on viruses so the best thing to do is to stay hydrated and sit it out (pun intended). Food-borne illnesses are most prevalent during summer. Combine rapidly growing bacteria with increased outdoor cooking, reduced refrigeration and washing facilities etc and you have the perfect recipe for Roskildesyge. Lack of sleep, drinking, smoking, poor diet, and reduced immunity place you at a higher risk of contagion.
Avoid ‘festivalitis’ by building your immunity before you go: eat lots of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables and take extra vitamin C a week before, during and a few days after the festival. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water; avoid communal hand towels. Drink only pure, bottled water. Ensure your food is properly cooked. If the meat looks dodgy, don’t eat it. If pre-prepared food looks sun-cooked, don’t eat it. When preparing your own food: choose foods that don’t require refrigeration; carefully wash/peel raw fruit and vegetables; barbeque your meat until it’s piping hot, no longer pink on the inside and the juices run clear. Keep raw meat separate from cooked meat and any utensils, plates etc.
Hydrate to stay healthy
Drink plenty of water. Outdoor activity, sunshine and increased movement demand increased hydration. You will feel worse for wear if you don’t. Avoid sugary drinks (sodas) as these deplete hydration levels. Coconut water is a great way to re-hydrate after a day in the sun.
Caroline Cain is a half-English, half-French naturopathic nutritionist and reflexologist who believes that lasting heath, radiance and energy is achievable through a practical, relaxed approach to clean, green, healthy eating and living and a generous dash of radical self-care. She also speaks Danish and Spanish. Find out more at www.carolinecain.dk.
For four weeks at a time, four times a year, our aim is to give you all the seasonal lifestyle advice you need to thrive in the areas of gardening, health, food and sport. When should you plant your petunias, when does the birch pollen season normally start, which week do the home-grown strawberries take over the supermarket, and which outdoor sports can you play in the snow? All the answers are here in ‘A plan for all seasons’.
Previous articles in this series include
Gardening, with Toby Musgrave