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Some health issues are just plain embarrassing, but your local health store can help you to put them behind you

“Bad breath can be a sign of food taking longer to digest,” says Helena Murphy of health store Loop de Loop in Casteltownbere, Co Cork. “Taking a digestive aid could help. Remember to floss when brushing your teeth and give your tongue and inside your mouth a good clean. Avoid using mouthwash with alcohol as this dries out the mouth.”

Visiting your dentist is a good idea to make sure it is not being caused by poor dental hygiene, gum disease or cavities. Another cause would be a digestive problem, so try taking live native bacteria (probiotics). Foods high in live native bacteria include natural yoghurt and kombucha tea.

• Try a zinc supplement and a mouthwash containing zinc – it helps your mouth stay bacteria-free.

• Gargle with salt water – to kill off bacteria in the mouth.

• Eat an apple a day – it helps to scrape plaque off your teeth.

“If you are having a problem with B.O. try taking chlorella and sage, and also including more parsley in your general diet,” says John Halpin from the Health Store in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre. Sage can be found in some deodorants and tea.

“Body odour can really get people down,” says Helena Murphy. “It’s wise to see your healthcare practitioner to make sure there is not an underlying problem first. Try using less chemicals on your skin as your pores could become blocked.”

• Wear natural fibres, rather than man-made fibres that can make you sweat.

• Use a tea tree soap which has a gentle antibacterial action.

• Try a detox tea preparation – or make tea from parsley and hot water.

• Shave under your arms – this keeps hairs that trap perspiration as short as possible.

• Eat plenty of kale and spinach – the chlorophyll they contain is a natural deodoriser.

Thrush is a yeast infection caused by a fungus commonly known as candida albicans, this can be both oral and vaginal. “It can be very hard to live with,” says Helena Murphy. “Make sure you are taking probiotics and eating foods like kefir and natural yogurt. Avoid sugar in the diet because it will feed a yeast imbalance. Don’t use any chemicals when washing intimate areas, just lukewarm water. Wear loose underwear and not tight trousers – this will help air circulate.”

“Generally supplements such as probiotics, garlic and grapefruit seed extract can help treat thrush,” says John Halpin. “It’s also important to follow a sugar and yeast-free diet.”

• Eat live natural yoghurt every day to put good bacteria into your gut.

• Ask your health store for a native bacteria supplement such as acidophilus.

• Add white vinegar to bath water to help stabilise your vaginal pH.

Your intestines are composed of an ‘ecosystem’ of good bacteria that the body needs to digest food, but when the balance is lost due to different food or drink on holiday or antibiotics, for example, you can end up with too much ‘bad bacteria’ leading to digestive problems. Probiotics (or live native bacteria) put the good bacteria back into your intestines and help to maintain the balance you need. Research has been done into which probiotics best help which kinds of digestive problems, so ask your health store for advice on this.

To avoid traveller's tummy take a probiotic before and during your holiday, ideally one that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Our advice is to take it two weeks before you go and two weeks after you return home. Health stores stock probiotic foods and supplements in drinks, capsules, powders and liquid forms.

• Drink plenty of water – avoid too many dehydrating drinks such as coffee, tea and alcohol.

• Drink coconut water – it is full of natural electrolytes and can prevent and treat dehydration.

• Take a digestive enzyme before a meal – good for helping you to cope with spicy or unfamiliar foods.

• Carry protein snacks in your hand luggage – if you don’t want to eat food on the plane or in case of delays.

• Ginger is a good remedy for travel sickness and also for nausea.

Ask the staff at your local health store for help with any of the issues addressed here – they have a wealth of knowledge.

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