by Dr. Sarah Brewer
A Nutritionist and Doctor
Communing with nature is good for you. And the further from civilisation you can go the better, when it comes to Wilderness Therapy. Escape to a foreign country for a well earned break, ramble along unkempt lanes, hike over untamed moors, up craggy mountainsides or tramp through forest trails. But if it’s relaxation you need, rather than exercise, just sit in the middle of a field or beach and enjoy the wide open space.
Beach holidays are popular because the sea offers a variety of healing advantages. The bracing, invigorating effects of negative ions in sea air complements the healing power of marine minerals. Salts and mud derived from the Dead Sea, for example, have been used since ancient times for their beneficial effects, ability to promote extreme relaxation, and their beneficial effects on skin. Seafood is also brimming with health-giving properties, acting as a rich source of beneficial minerals, trace elements and essential fatty acids.
Outdoor therapy should include sensible exposure to sunshine to maximise your natural production of vitamin D. But fifteen minutes of sun exposure, without sunscreen, is all you need – more can damage the skin, risk sunburn and may lead to premature wrinkles or even skin cancer. After this time, cover up and apply sunscreen. Skin experts recommend selecting a product with at least SPF15 and preferably higher to screen out ultraviolet B (UVB) sunrays. For children, an SPF of at least 30 to 40 is advisable.
Apply sunscreen liberally and, unless otherwise instructed, reapply every two hours and after swimming.
Avoid the hottest sun between 11am to 3 pm and stay in the shade as much as possible at other times. Remember, you can still burn outdoors on hazy days and in the shade, so cover up with loose, light clothing and wear a wide brimmed sun hat as much as possible. Sunglasses are vital to protect against cataracts. Check the label specifies ‘100% UV protection’, ‘Lenses block UVA and UVB rays’, or ‘Full UV400 protection’. Avoid those that do not state any level of protection or that vaguely claim, ‘UV absorbing lenses’ or ‘Blocks most UV light’.