Jet lag, stress, fast food, little exercise, poor sleep and barely any fresh air. The initiation into an expat journey isn’t always the healthiest.
While there is no substitute for the real immune booster game changers (a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, daily exercise and a full night’s sleep), the following potions have really helped me on my travels:
India – Chyawanprash. Legend goes that an old geezer marries a way too young girl and worries he’ll croak before she’s even grown up, so he gets his celestial physicians to develop an elixir to keep him fit and strong. Or something like that. In any case, in the freezing Himalayas I swore by this 2,500-year-old Ayurvedic cocktail of herbs, plant extracts and fruit pulp to fight off illness. An acquired taste with the consistency of peanut butter, I took a spoonful after a warm glass of milk.
Switzerland – Jemalt. A malty mix of vitamins, nutrients and mineral salts to boost metabolism, concentration and energy. Especially recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding ladies, as well as children, seniors and overworked tax fraudsters I glugged it like a fish when expecting my first child. Sold in pharmacies throughout Switzerland, a dairy free version is now available.
Belgium – GingerLove. A caffeine free blend of citrus fruits, ginger and herbs as famous as Dries van Noten in vegan circles. Developed by the founder of Antwerp’s iconic vegetarian restaurant Lombardia, and popular with celebs including Sting, Moby and Faithless to boost energy and fight off illness, the original recipe is still a secret. The original and its sister variants are available from Holland and Barrett (*punches air*). I’m currently in a long term relationship with Sleepy Love with mango which helps to calm my restless mind when I can’t switch off.
Syria – Zhourat. My weekly shop at the Damascene souk would always include a headfirst dive into a bucket of Zhourat, a beautiful blend of flowers and herbs to relieve stress, aid digestion and ease respiratory issues. Apparently there are up to 77 variable ingredients in the traditional blends, with camomile, rose and verbena among the favourites. The tea bag versions for sale online come nowhere near the real deal and alas I haven’t find anything nearly as good as the genuine article outside Syria.
Photo by Brandon Giesbrecht
UK (and pretty much everywhere) – When I’m feeling a little run down I make a potion of a teaspoon of honey, a quarter of a lemon and a few slices of ginger and mix in a mug of hot (not boiling water). Simple, cheap and effective.
Japan – I spent a month in Japan and ate, drank and practically breathed in matcha on a daily basis. From the purest ceremonial grade in swanky tea houses to cheaper alternatives in cake, I still can’t get enough of this stuff. A cake that boosts the immune system, perks you up without a caffeine crash, and is high in antioxidants you say? Pass me another slice.
Do you have any health boosters to share? Please leave me a comment.