CLEAN WATER BOTTLE & IODINE PILLS
If a ski trip, a hiking expedition or any other vacation involving high altitudes is in the works, you may need to drink up to five liters of fluid a day, according to a recent study in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine. That means it's a good idea to keep a clean, refillable water bottle on hand - unless you're traveling to a place with an unknown water source. In that case, you should purchase sealed bottled water. "It may seem expensive, but it's worth the price," says California nutritionist Lauren Schmitt. Extra security can come from two-step water treatment kits, found at most camping stores, which kill bacteria and neutralize the iodine taste.
TEA TREE OIL
You're snorkeling in crystal clear Caribbean waters when all of a sudden you scrape your shin against a reef, causing a cut that could become infected by dangerous bacteria. But recent studies show that you could protect yourself against bacterial infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, by applying tea tree oil. You may also have heard it referred to as a Staph infection. Alternatively, if humidity or stress from your travels cause your skin to break out, scientific reports also indicate that tea tree oil can be effective in treating acne.
Even for those with an iron-clad stomach, travel can spring some surprises in the form of gastrointestinal distress, motion sickness or nausea. But that shouldn't mean having to run to a pharmacy or cutting a trip short. An Italian study found that taking two capsules of peppermint oil twice a day can cut the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (including abdominal pain and diarrhea) by more than half. Other studies show that peppermint oil can also reduce nausea and vomiting, and the National Institutes of Health say the supplement may be effective in treating heartburn. Aim for a dose of 90 milligrams per day.
The artificial, sugar-filled red stuff should stay on the store shelf. But natural licorice root may have valuable antiviral properties that could be helpful to travelers, according to research published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. The study found that glycyrrhizic acid, a compound found in licorice, can interfere with ongoing viral infections such as cholera, rabies and yellow fever. The National Institutes of Health reports that a dosage of one milliliter of licorice with several other herbs taken three times a day can be used to help treat an upset stomach.
Ever return from a vacation more tired than when you left? Supplementing with iron may be the solution, say Canadian researchers in a recent study. They studied how oral iron therapy affected nearly 200 non-anemic iron-deficient women aged 18 to 53. The conclusion? Taking a supplement with 80 milligrams of elemental iron daily can decrease fatigue by nearly 50%.
The jury is still out on whether taking extra vitamin C can prevent or treat colds. But a new study indicates that consuming lots of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C could help fight the effects of air pollution when traveling to cities. The Epidemiology report revealed that people with the lowest levels of vitamin C tended to suffer more from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). So fuel up on vitamin C-rich kale, broccoli, oranges and strawberries before your departure and consider taking a supplement while you're away.
If you're particularly sensitive to the sun, this group of carotenoids may help prevent sunburn, according to the National Institutes of Health. (Their yellow, orange and red pigments are also rich in vitamin A.) Find beta-carotene in peppers, leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin and chard.
TOSCA'S TRAVEL PICK
Eat-Clean Diet maven and nutritional therapy practitioner Tosca Reno is often on the road, but never leaves for a trip without her must-have supplement: hydrochloric acid (HCI), which is an acidic form of betaine, a nutrient found in spinach, beets and grains such as quinoa. Wonderful for counteracting indigestion, bloating and stomach pain, Tosca says her HCI supplement is smart travel insurance and a staple in her carryall bag, wherever her travels take her.