Traveling With Food Allergies Easier With Smartphone Add-On

traveling with food allergiesTraveling with food allergies requires an extra measure of caution for those affected. In the past, that caution may have kept them from sampling local fare, a big part of any travel experience. Now, a new smartphone add-on will allow allergy-suffering travelers to test their meal at restaurants, food trucks, sidewalk cafes or any other dining venue around the world.

I have a friend in the UK who has a fish/seafood allergy so severe that if she so much as smells fish, a reaction occurs. If a tiny speck of fish accidentally makes its way in or on to something she eats? Off to the hospital she goes. She is far from alone.

Unique food allergies, sensitivities or restrictions with reactions that can be severe, and even life-threatening, affect millions of people, both children and adults. While traveling, those affected can’t rely on others to help; the down side to them being wrong is just too much of a gamble.Airlines provide special meals for these travelers if notified in advance. Food labels can indicate potential problem ingredients. Asking servers what is in food can help too. But until now, nothing allergic travelers could do would guarantee food safety.

To give allergic travelers a high level of confidence that what they are aboutraveling with food allergiest to eat is safe for them, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) developed the iTube.

Using the cellphone’s built-in camera, the iTube, along with a smartphone app, runs a test with the same high level of sensitivity of a laboratory. Unlike other mobile devices that detect allergens, the iTube is easy to use and much less bulky, according to the UCLA researchers at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

“We envision that this cellphone–based allergen testing platform could be very valuable, especially for parents, as well as for schools, restaurants and other public settings,” says Aydogan Ozcan, leader of the research team and a UCLA associate professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering in the UCLA Newsroom.

Can’t wait for the iTube to hit the shelves of your favorite gear store? A Food Allergy Translation Card iPhone App may help while you wait, as we see in this video:

[Photo Credits- Flickr user sweenpole2001 and UCLA Newsroom]

Stay Fit On The Go: Easy Hotel Room Exercises

Life on the road can be rough on the body. Not only do travelers often find themselves eating fatty foods and sitting in cars or on planes for long periods of time, but we also fall victim to falling out of our normal workout routines.

Although the number of hotels featuring fitness centers is on the up and up, every accommodation option doesn’t have the convenience (and in many cases, travelers don’t necessarily want to utilize the gym). Stay fit on the road with this easy 25-minute hotel room workout that utilizes an object found in nearly every hotel room: a chair.

Warm Up
5 minutes
First things first, get those muscles ready by doing shoulder circles, 15-25 calf raises, and 25-50 jumping jacks. Do all these exercises without a break and you should get your blood flowing.

20 minutesLeg Squats: With a chair behind you (or not if you are experienced), stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your abs tight as you bed your knees and slowly squat toward the chair. Hover above the chair for a few seconds and then lift back up by extending your legs until your back to a standing position. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Lunges: Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step your right foot approximately two feet in front of you, lowering your hips while maintaining control and balance until both knees are bent at about 90-degree angles. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle and your back knee doesn’t touch the floor. Keep the weight in your heels and push back up to the starting position. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Elevated Push Ups: Place your hands on the edge of the bed (let’s face it, nobody wants their face anywhere near hotel room carpet). Scoot your feet out until you are in a diagonal plank position and proceed to do traditional push ups. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Wall Climb: Place your hands flat against the wall with your arms straight, leaning your body at an angle with your right foot forward. Quickly bringing your left foot forward while simultaneously kicking your right foot back. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Chair Step: Set a straight-backed chair (without wheels) against the wall or door of your hotel room so the chair seat faces you. Step up on the seat one foot at a time and then step down. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions.

If this is not enough of a workout for you, do another round of these exercises. Keep in mind that this simple workout is not a replacement for heavy-duty sessions, but instead a way to stretch out and break a sweat in the privacy of your own hotel room. And take caution: all exercises are attempted at your own risk. Always consult a physician before beginning any physical activity.

[Flickr image via sldghmmr]

Foods To Avoid Before Getting On A Flight

broccoli One serious problem for travelers flying on airplanes is Jet Bloating. No, I did not make that term up. It’s used to refer to the burping and bloating caused by gases that expand the stomach at high altitude.

The main culprit of the ailment is certain foods that lead to water retention and indigestion. Some obvious foods and drinks to avoid include broccoli, beans, salty snacks and carbonated drinks. However, there are some less apparent fare that fliers shouldn’t be eating as well, such as bread, fois gras, peaches and fried cuisine.

Jet Bloating is no laughing matter. Along with making you the least liked person on the plane, it can also disturb the flight itself. In 2006, a US domestic airline was forced to land early after passengers complained of a weird odor in the bathroom. It turned out the smell was from a spent match, which a passenger had lit to disguise an unpleasant stomach issue.

So, what should you eat before and while flying? Green tea, bananas, berries, pineapple, onions, garlic, turmeric and potatoes all help to aid digestion. Additionally, celery can calm your nerves, while whole cereal grains and leafy greens reduce stress. Ginger is also excellent, although make sure to order a flat soda if you go the ginger ale route.

[image via spencer341b]

Top Places Around The World You Do Not Want To Get Sick

medicine Worried about getting sick on your travels? You may want to steer clear of the countries below. The World Health Organization has revealed the top countries around the world with the worst healthcare.

While Burma is the worst country to get sick in, the continent of Africa has the most countries with bad healthcare systems on the planet. Other destinations you don’t want to fall ill in include Cambodia, Afghanistan, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Vanuatu, Samoa and Papua New Guinea. Basically, you should be wary of remote places, and countries without a stable infrastructure or a public healthcare system.

Don’t think you don’t need to take precautions in more developed countries, however, as places like North America have serious diseases like West Nile Virus.

Dr. Deborah Mills, author of “Travelling Well,” explains, “We don’t encourage people to go into warzones, because you can’t stop the bullets flying, but generally even the worst places are safe provided you get proper pre-travel care and get the right information, vaccines and medical kit in case you get sick.”

[photo via Darnyi Zsoka]

Blowfish Poisoning Suspected As Cause Of Canadian Sisters’ Deaths In Thailand

blowfish In a recent tragedy, two Canadian sisters were found dead in their hotel room on the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. Discovered on June 15 by the Phi Phi Palm Residence Hotel’s maid, Audrey and Noemi Belanger, 20 and 26, are suspected to have died from severe food poisoning, most likely from blowfish or poisonous mushrooms.

“There was a lot of vomit in the room, and both bodies showed similar signs [of trauma],” explained Lieutenant Col Rat Somboon of the Krabi Provincial Police. “They had skin lesions and it seemed that they had bled from the gums. Also, their fingernails and toenails were blue.”

While officials did not find any signs of foul play, they did notice various over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen, which can have serious effects on the stomach. Moreover, blowfish, which is extremely toxic if not prepared correctly, can cause death within an hour and a half of eating. In fact, blowfish poison is about 100 times more lethal than potassium cyanide.

At this time, the bodies are undergoing post-mortem examinations in Bangkok to check for traces of poisonous substances.

[image via Monochrome]