In general, the best defence is a healthy body. For emergency purposes modern medicines & medical facilities may be necessary
Even when travelling get some minimum form of intense exercise every day (yes even at weekends). Both aerobic and anaerobic is ideal e.g. running, swimming, cycling, push-ups, weights. You are your only barrier to this e.g. “Oh the road is busy”, “my shoes are still a little wet”, or whatever. Be kind to yourself, but also push yourself when you can.
Don’t take taxis everywhere. Ask at your hotel if things are within walking distance, and don’t always believe what they say. Get a map! The taxis will always say you need a taxi even if it’s 2 mins away.
Also be aware of what you eat. It’s all too easy to eat a lot of junk and not realise. Whilst this may not be a short term problem back home in the west, you want the best immune system against all the diseases present in foreign countries which you may catch. And don’t kid yourself. Vaccinations don’t guarantee full protection against any of the diseases. It depends on the person, the strain of disease, and your health. At least you can influence the last one.
Don’t forget, in poorer countries what may look like cheap nourishing food e.g. hawkers, restaurants etc usually contains a lot of grease, sugar, MSG, and various other toxins. E.g. in Bali, Indonesia when travelling in the countryside you see everything done by hardwork and nature e.g. relatively free animals, hand harvested rice. But even then you don’t know whether pesticides have been used. At least in Europe if they are used, health and safety tests regulate levels. You don’t normally have that luxury in Asia. And it’s worse in the cities where everything is imported so you have no idea. A plate of fried noodles, veggies and chicken looks healthy enough: Lots of grease, lots of sugar, intensively farmed chickens with chemicals, pesticides on veggies, MSG (widely used for flavouring, formaldahyde (widely used in Indonesia for preservation, but banned in the West). So you see it isn’t just processed food you need to reduce. Just because you see locals eating it all the time, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. They’re starting to experience the same health issues we have in the west e.g. cancer, liver disease etc. The old adage of Asian’s for example living longer only applies where they still eat fresh clean fish & rice their whole lives. Sadly this is changing quickly.
So what can you do? Well there’s no avoiding this stuff, and there’s absolutely no point worrying about it. Just be aware and maximise fresh food you know the origin of, minimise processed food e.g. packaged food (that includes even the clear plastic bagged rice crackers or whatever you see in small shops and hawkers – look natural enough but you’d be surprised). Just do your best, or risk getting sick during your trip of a lifetime.
K.I.S.S. Is the best rule I have come across in my existence. Keep It Simple Stupid. E.g. Plain white rice, steamed veggies, and lightly fried tofu or fish. Ok, plain white rice isn’t as nutritious as brown, but it beats bread (read about this yourself). It’s plain, minimally processed and you can flavour with what you want.
Eat lots of fresh fruit. May have pesticides, but it’s your best chance for unprocessed food with maximal nutrients. And in places like Asia, you’ll never taste such good cheap & exotic fruits even if they are imported back home.
Drink fresh juice e.g. my favourite papau & banana (has a real creamy taste). It’s the same price as a coffee, much cheaper than beer, just as refreshing & much better for you!
Eat steamed veggies when possible.
Trust yourself. Respect local cultures & traditions, but more importantly respect your soul. If you are sick, or need good food, then simply ask for it. Locals are 99% of the time happy to oblige. Again the only barrier is yourself.
Timing of eating can be important to health. Different communities and cultures observe different beliefs. In the west, we traditionally opt for a lighter breakfast, and then large lunch or dinner. In Thailand they often skip breakfast altogether, and eat 5 or 6 small meals right into the small hours. In Bali at a healing ashram where true miracles of recovery have occurred, they survive on 4hrs sleep a night, and eat their main meal at 12 or 1am.
It’s a personal thing, but I opt for trying not to eat too late into the night i.e. nothing past 10pm. Certainly sleep is a time for the body to rest, and shouldn’t be a time when it is processing food.
Just keep feeling happy as much as possible, and smile. You’ll be amazed at what a difference this will make. It may sound cheesy, but if you don’t try you’ll never know. Some people say “fake it till you make it”. When you make it is when it feels more natural. The more you smile and stay happy, the easier it becomes to laugh at yourself, events outside, other people. It’s a great way to deal with anger, aggression, depression, sadness etc
Why do I mention it under health? A smile uses more muscles in the face than any other expression, therefore it exercises the face and makes you look younger. If you make it to frequent laughter, eventually your face will be removed of skin blemishes etc, you’ll have more energy, & you’ll overcome illnesses quicker. It’s like a built in beauty & health salon.
Forget about smile wrinkles! What’s a few lines next your eyes if your whole face it glowing!
If you are a pessimist, try counteracting every negative thought with a positive one e.g. Oh I can’t do that, I’m not brave enough”. Think back to a time before when you have done something similarly scary and you ‘did’ do it.
This is a controversial subject believe it or not. But if you come from the western mainstream like me, you’d never know it. You take for granted that all vaccinations are necessary & healthy. Parents of children to receive vaccinations are normally a bit more clued up. Do your research before accepting everything the health clinic suggests you have.
Common Illnesses (TOP)
Very common in travellers. It’s an unfriendly bacteria in the gut, as opposed to friendly ones. Don’t go straight for the Loperamide. It’s a chemical, and just acts as a stopper. May be necessary if you’re taking a long bus ride, but then again maybe you shouldn’t be taking the ride! It won’t fix the problem. Stay hydrated. Fresh green coconut juice – the best source of fluid & electrolytes readily available in developing countries is the best thing to replace lost fluid & salts.
Keep eating to a minimum, and keep it natural & fresh. Bacteria love to feed off of food, especially of the unhealthy kind. Greasy sugary food also inhibits the bodies immune system to fight the bacteria so it’ll take longer to clear. It’s up to you!
Remember the old adage your mother taught you: “Starve a fever, feed a cold”.
Very widespread in Asia. Affects locals aswell as foreigners. Certain places have none e.g. Bali & other islands, certain cities etc. Don’t take a locals word for it. Seek professional advice. Higher risk in rural areas. Be clear, malaria can be fatal, but it can also be an illness that passes. The main risk in rural areas apart from the increased exposure, is access to emergency medical treatment should you contract it.
The following advice should help minimize risk:
Avoidance & prevention (TOP)
Impregnated mosquito nets, insect repellant containing Diethyl-m-toluamide (a.k.a DEET) or citronella. Citronella is the natural alternative and is not as strong as DEET, so you have to reapply more frequently.
However DEET has much more dubious long term health effects. See the natural products section for suggestions of alternative repellants.
Stay cool: wear light colored clothing in the day (dark colors absorb more infrared & make you hotter. The hotter you are the more you attract the damn things. At night or when protected e.g. inside a net, wear dark clothes (give off heat faster at night – strange huh!) or wear less clothing………..as a rule probably better not incase one gets in.
Also note that you release more lactic acid when you have been exercising or after eating certain foods (e.g., salty foods, high-potassium foods) which also attracts them.
Note that mosquitos tend to come at dawn and dusk.
Healthy Body (TOP)
A strong immune system and healthy body will have a better chance of fighting any ill effects you may have.
Preventative chemicals (TOP)
There are the readily available anti malarial tablets such as Zythromax. They all have side effects which may be worse than the symptoms, and may or may not work. There exists a more natural alternative known as MMS, but it’s more of a programme and also may involve side effects. MMS (Miracle Mineral Supplement) (a.k.a. Sodium Chlorite, Chlorate & Carbonate & Distilled Water) has reportedly cured malaria, HIV, and other serious illnesses in trials: http://www.themiraclemineralsupplement.com/miracle-mineral/can-mms-cure-cancer-aids-malaria-and-hepatitis.php
See here for more general information: http://mmsinstructions.com/
By adding a commonly available acid e.g. lemon juice the solution is activated and releases Chlorine Dioxide. When ingested it is picked up by red blood cells, circulated and destroys pathogens. Over a matter of weeks, you should begin to feel better and better, but initially some people feel like they’ve been run over by a truck with feelings of intense nausea, cramps, and possibly diarrhea. For others it has no effect. Seems to depend how healthy your body is. But when the body releases toxins it is never a pleasant process.
I personally have known people who have cured themselves of Ross River virus, stopped smoking, drinking alcohol, coffee & other cravings by going on a programme with MMS.
MMS has many every day uses aswell: http://www.mmsfacts.com/everyday-uses-for-mms e.g. purify drinking water, a general body detox, deodorant, etc
You may not believe anything I have written, I’m not sure I do, but all I can say is don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Emergency medication (TOP)
If all else fails modern medicines such as Malarone, (Mefloquine & Quinine- heavy side effects) may cure the disease with no former treatment, but you should access them within 24hrs of developing a fever. It is a more concentrated form of the preventative versions.
MMS may also be used in more concentrated doses for emergency situations requiring elimination of a pathogens.
Say Thanks (TOP)
The best thing to do is say thank you for mosquito bites you couldn’t avoid. Either that or get irritated & spoil your holiday.
Natural Cosmetic & Health Products (TOP)
Try supporting the local economy where possible whilst improving your own health by shopping for natural, locally produced products e.g. insect repellant, sun block, lotions etc. Often you can find very cheap remedies that have been used by locals for decades.
Insect repellant (TOP)
DEET is the most popular active ingredient in mosquito repellants and is a synthetic chemical compound. Whilst effective as a repellant, it’s long term health effects have been called into question through various studies: http://greenliving.about.com/od/thegreenyard/a/insect_repellents.htm
Citronella oil is the most popular plant based alternative. If you get it in your eyes or mouth, you’ll realize this stuff is potent. “Natural” doesn’t always mean safe, so you should use plant-based insect repellents as carefully as any other.
Different people have varying results, and I can honestly say, so long as it is reapplied frequently, it works for me.
Others include: IR3535, Lemon Eucalyptus Oil, Cinnamon Oil, Castor Oil, Rosemary Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Cedar Oil, Peppermint Oil, Clove Oil, Geranium Oil. Also possibly Oils from Verbena, Pennyroyal, Lavender, Pine, Cajeput, Basil, Thyme, Allspice, Soybean, and Garlic.
Just look on the back of a bottle More often than not ingredients are listed in English by law.
Alternatively you can make your own: http://chemistry.about.com/cs/howthingswork/a/aa050503a.htm
Look for products containing Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide coupled with ingredients that don’t require a PhD to understand e.g. Organic Jojoba Butter, White Camellia Oil, Sunflower Oil, Vitamins A, C and E etc
Titanium dioxide for example, is a naturally occurring mineral, is processed into micro crystals that work by deflecting the sun’s rays. However, articles have also been written contradicting it’s safety record.
At the end of the day it’s your call. I’ve used products containing the above two ingredients with no ill effects, and if I’m going to use dubious chemicals anyway I’d rather support the local retailer who sells it, than a giant pharmaceutical or shopping mall.
Brands which produce Natural/Organic products (not necessarily their entire range) (TOP)
USA: Little Twig,
Australia: Thursday Plantation: AU, UV Natural, Natural Instinct (www.naturalinstinct.com.au)
Singapore: 21st Century Repella, USA; Thursday Plantation: AU, Neutricare.com.sg,
Tiger Balm (Han Pah Healthcare Singapore), Hoe Pharmaceuticals (Malaysia)
Thailand: Sketolene (British Dispensary), Wild Lives
Health Insurance (TOP)
See Insurance section