Slow-release foods: ideal when snacking isnt an option


Boost your energy

Slow-release carbohydrate foods which assist weight loss raise blood sugar slowly and are said to have a low glycaemic index. As well as helping to keep you feeling fuller for longer, they provide a steady supply of blood sugar to maximise energy levels when diving.
Such foods include: All Bran, Sultana Bran, porridge, sugar-free muesli, granary bread, rye bread, pitta bread, tortilla wraps, pasta, sweet potatoes, bulgur wheat, noodles, sweetcorn, chickpeas, baked beans, kidney beans, lentils, peas, dark green leafy vegetables, salad leaves, dried apricots, apples, unsweetened fruit salad, cherries, grapes, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, medium-ripe bananas, plain yoghurt and milk.

YOUVE SAVED ALL YEAR and planned the perfect winter break. Sun, sand, good accommodation and, of course, the promise of some fantastic dives.
Then disaster strikes. A cold youve picked up in the plane, food-poisoning from local food, an ear infection from the hotel swimming pool or a bout of sinusitis stops your diving in its tracks.
 As others head for the dive sites, you head forlorn and dejected for the sunbed.
If this sounds all too familiar, then along with organising the fine details of your next trip, plan also to get your body into tiptop shape to minimise the risk of precious days wasted through sickness.
What you eat is one of the most effective ways of achieving this objective.

Coughs and colds
You cant stop colleagues, family, friends or the person next to you on the plane coughing and spluttering their cold germs. But you can boost your immune system to make it less likely that youll catch their bugs.
Begin by making probiotics a part of your daily diet. You find probiotics or friendly bacteria added to everything from fruit smoothies to small shots of yoghurt-style drinks. They pass through the digestive system unabsorbed and colonise on the colon wall. Here, one of their roles is to send messages to the immune system, boosting, among other things, levels of the bug-beating interferon.
Daily doses of friendly bacteria are essential to establish and maintain better immunity. While probiotic drinks are a good way of getting them at home, supplements such as Multibionta, which contain vitamins, minerals and a variety of friendly bacteria, are easy to pack and make a convenient way of keeping intakes up while away.
Other good immune boosters include foods rich in protein such as meat, fish, chicken and pulse vegetables. Protein is vital for maintaining the integrity of linings in the airways to help stop bacteria and viruses taking hold, while vitamin C, which you get by chomping on citrus fruits, kiwi, berries, peppers and sweet potatoes, as well as by glugging down citrus fruit juices, also enhances immunity.
It's also a good idea to have plenty of garlic. Its bursting with more than 100 sulphur-based supernutrients such as allicin, able to help block the action of enzymes that otherwise allow viruses and bacteria to invade our respiratory tracts and lungs.‚

If you still fall prey to infections, at the first sign of a sniff be prepared to stop it in its tracks. To optimise your chances, first increase your vitamin C.
Food sources alone are not enough, so pop a 1000mg supplement each day. Studies have shown that the duration of a cold can be reduced by 21% - in other words a day - by a short, sharp megadose of this vitamin. That could be a couple of dives saved.

The same goes for tincture or tablets containing the active extracts of Echinacea. This is most effective when taken at the first hint of illness, helping to kill both bacteria and viruses by increasing production of interferon. Take 200mg five times a day for a couple of weeks to optimise its effects.
Finally, add supplements of Astralagus to your cold-beating bag of tricks. Used for more than 2000 years by Chinese doctors, taking 200mg a day twice a day for three weeks before your break shores up your immunity, while 200mg four times a day should be taken if an infection has taken a grip.
The active supernutrients in this sweet-smelling, pale yellow-flowered plant helps stop viruses establishing themselves in your respiratory system and reduce their ability to flourish.

Food poisoning
As well as boosting immunity, probiotic bacteria will directly fight off bugs from foods and drinks capable of triggering debilitating bouts of food poisoning.
Its hard to over-emphasise the importance of including probiotics in your diving holiday plans.

Ear infections
Even if you dont swim in the hotel pool, picking up ear infections is always a painful possibility. Fascinating research from Denmark shows that the simple habit of chewing gum could save us from this fate.
Not any old chewing gum, but sugar-free versions that use the natural sweetener xylitol. Harvested from the birch tree, this has been used in Scandinavian countries for years as part of their campaigns to reduce tooth decay. But now researchers have shown that not only does it reduce activity of the decay-causing bacteria S. mutans but, through the process of chewing, can migrate into the Eustachian tube.
There it sets up a Teflon-like non-stick surface to prevent the bacteria that cause middle-ear infections taking hold.
 Orbit chewing gum and several specialist dental gums contain xylitol. Take them with you in case local brands use other sweeteners and chew three sticks or pellets daily for maximum ear-infection fighting effect.
Helping to reduce tooth decay is an added bonus, as small fissures in the teeth can lead to reverse blocks, which are painful and can lead to bigger cracks.

Excess baggage
We all know that carrying excess body weight can reduce your fun diving. Extra weight often means reduced levels of fitness, more exertion in the water and air running out sooner than is necessary.
It also leads to raised blood pressure and cholesterol, both of which add unnecessary health risks when diving, as well as making you more prone to DCS.
Going about dumping unwanted pounds is not rocket science. You dont need to join clubs, survive on meal-replacement drinks or try dodgy diets that promise the earth and deliver little long-term.
In reality its down to coming clean with yourself about what you currently eat and making subtle changes to cut down on the calories without feeling deprived.
Start by keeping a note of what you eat for four days, two of which should include the weekend. Look over your scribblings and begin by jettisoning the junk. Replace sweets, crisps and chocolate with fruit - fresh or dried, or a handful of almonds, cashews or walnuts. Have water instead of sweetened drinks.
Look at your meals. Replace all refined carbohydrates with wholegrain versions. Have sugar-free muesli or porridge instead of refined cereals for breakfast and granary bread instead of white.
For lunch and dinner use granary or rye bread, pittas, tortilla wraps, pasta and sweet potatoes.
Cutting out sugar and using these kinds of carbohydrates keeps your blood-sugar levels steady and reduces secretion of insulin, a hormone which refined sugar-rich diets cause to soar and keep us feeling permanently hungry.
Add to these blood-sugar-regulating unrefined carbohydrates a good serving of protein at each meal. Anything such as lean meats, fish, chicken and turkey minus the skin and vegetarian options such as tofu and Quorn are good.
Protein has the magic quality of rapidly switching off Im hungry signals in the brain and slightly speeds the metabolism, so we burn fat faster.
If alcohol features regularly in your food diary, you need to rethink. Booze not only packs in the calories but often leads to takeaways and fast food after a session by weakening your resolve to eat well. Once youre down to your goal weight then fine, have a few, but until then weight loss is fastest if you knock it on the head.
The good news is that once youre diving you will be burning calories like mad. Researchers reckon that we manage to use the same number of calories per minute of diving as thrashing around the squash court.
Calorie-burn increases when under water partly because the body burns more to maintain core body temperature. More significant are the extra calories used to heat air from tanks to body temperature in the lungs. So as long as you dont overcompensate with extra holiday nosh, diving may even help you lose a few extra pounds!

The potent mix of diesel fumes and a rocky sea can unbalance the most sea-hardy diver on route to a dive site or when holidaying on a liveaboard.
One of the oldest tricks to regain your sea-legs lies in stashing away a 1.5cm strip of fresh ginger and giving it a quick chew as you board the boat.
Bursting with pungent supernutrients known as gingerols and shogaols, these compounds work in the digestive tract, boosting digestive fluids and neutralising acids that trigger nausea.
If fresh ginger is in short supply, ginger lozenges are available in healthfood stores, so pack some before you go.
Otherwise, sipping on a ginger cordial drink or even nibbling a ginger biscuit can help - or take a ginger capsule three hours before you set sail.

Sunburn is another potential dive-wrecker. Slapping on the sun cream and keeping covered are primary strategies for avoiding burns, but how you eat can give added protection.
Dermatologists in Germany have discovered that the pigments in tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, carrots, sweet potatoes, dark green vegetables, mangoes, apricots, corn and peas may give us inside-out sun protection.
Brimming with red, orange and yellow antioxidant pigments called limonene, beta carotene and lutein, which collect in the fatty layers under our skin, high intakes have been shown to give a permanent sun-protection factor of 3. Around 15mg in total a day is needed for such an effect.
If youre prone to sunburn, taking supplements of these pigments - available in healthfood stores - for around four weeks before and during your holiday is well worth a try.

Reverse blocks caused by air trapped in the digestive tract are at the least unpleasant, at worst dangerous.
To avoid air becoming trapped in your upper digestive system, minimise the amount of air swallowed by avoiding fizzy drinks, eating quickly or chewing gum before diving.
To reduce air building up in the lower digestive tract, avoid foods able to produce gas in the colon.
Pulse vegetables are the worst offenders and are well worth avoiding for a good 24 hours before diving.

The perils of diving when dehydrated are well-known and include, for example, an increased risk of fatigue and DCS.
Alcohol the night before diving is not sensible and drinking plenty of water before, between and after dives is crucial.
Allow an extra half-litre of water for every 30 minutes of diving, and remember that normal fluid needs of around 2 litres a day are increased in hot climates.

Get it checked

  • Blood pressure, four weeks before departure. If raised, you need to cut back seriously on salt. 75% of our intake comes not from salt added to cooking or sprinkled on at the table but from processed foods. Food labels dont make it easy to interpret salt content but aim for a maximum 3g (around 1g of sodium) a day. Cutting out processed foods is the easiest way of cutting out salt and lowering blood pressure. Significant drops can be observed after just a month. Losing weight can also reduce raised blood pressure significantly.
  • Cholesterol. Raised cholesterol can collect on artery walls and reduce the diameter of the blood vessel, increasing blood pressure and also the risk of nitrogen bubbles getting trapped in the bloodstream when desaturating on ascent. Losing excess body weight is the first step to controlling cholesterol. Foods such as soy milk and yoghurt help, as soy protein helps to lower blood cholesterol. So does the fibre in oats and the supernutrients in garlic. Plant stanol esters found in special cholesterol-lowering spreads are useful. Cut right down on foods rich in saturated animal fats such as butter, cream, cheese, fatty meats, pastries and fast foods. Oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel plus nuts such as almonds and walnuts can help to improve poor circulation.

Thanks for additional information go to Gerald Rambert of Sundiver Diving Centre, Flic en Flac, Mauritius




Garlic is good for keeping bacteria at bay, and only you need bother about the pong in your dive mask
Peppers are high in vitamin C.
Chewing gum with xylitol - whod have thought that Orbit could help prevent ear infections
Fruit high in vitamin C Generally a good idea all round
Oily fish help to improve circulation
Believe it or not, ginger can prevent seasickness. It probably also takes away the taste if youve already hurled!
Tomatoes give you sun protection and stop you looking like one