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Seven healthy handbag essentials.


Not only is sun damage responsible for up to 90 per cent of the visible signs of ageing, skin cancer ? caused by overexposure to the sun ? is also the most common form of cancer. Research studies have shown, however, that few of us are regularly wearing sunscreen (statistics by Mintel show that only 52 per cent of women and 37 per cent of men in France, Germany, Spain and the UK wear sunscreen, while a poll by ABCNEWS.com revealed that only 53 per cent of women and 36 per cent of men in the US use sunscreen at least sometimes). To help look after your skin, keep an SPF of at least factor 15 in your bag and reapply throughout the day if exposed to the sun for long periods.

Keep a bottle of water in your handbag to stay healthy and hydrated throughout the day

Getting enough fluids is essential for keeping your organs healthy, increasing energy levels, helping to detoxify your body, curbing hunger, improving digestion and reducing fluid retention. Not only is it great for your health, drinking water is also one of the cheapest beauty treatments around, helping to promote a clearer, more radiant complexion. While there is no definitive guideline for how much you should drink, it is important not to wait until you are thirsty as by this time you are already dehydrated. Keep some water to hand to stay energised and hydrated throughout the day.

Junk food cravings affect even the strongest willed of us from time to time, so make sure you defend yourself against them by packing a healthy snack for next time the cravings hit. Good handbag-friendly nutritious snacks include magnesium-rich dried fruit (chocolate cravings can be a sign of a magnesium deficiency); raw, unsalted nuts, which are rich in protein to help you feel fuller for longer; and fibre-rich roasted chickpeas or seasoned popcorn, which are great low-calorie savoury snacks.

While it is important not to get obsessive about cleanliness, good hygiene standards are still important for your health. We come into contact with bacteria frequently throughout the day without realising it; for instance, cleanliness tests in Britain have revealed that cash machines are just as dirty as public toilets, while a study by the University of Arizona found that the average work station contains nearly 400 times more germs than the average toilet seat. Keep a hand sanitiser in your bag to cleanse your hands when necessary, particularly before handling food.

According to experts, we should all be walking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day in order to maintain good heart health and a healthy bodyweight. However, many of us are consistently falling short of this mark. To make sure you are squeezing enough activity into your day, try keeping a pedometer in your handbag as you go about your day. With this handy piece of equipment you can easily record your total daily steps and be spurred on to take more. By increasing your daily steps you can improve your energy levels, reduce stress levels and improve your overall health and fitness.

This may seem like an obvious one but it is easy to forget about packing your pills when hurriedly getting ready for a busy day. To stay healthy and prepared for wherever your day takes you, make sure any medications, including hay fever and allergy remedies, painkillers, asthma inhalers and treatment for chronic conditions such as diabetes, are at the top of your packing list.  Tablets can be dispensed into handbag-friendly pill cases to leave plenty of room for other essential items.

Look after your mental health by keeping your brain working hard during lulls in your day. Research has found that frequent participation in mentally stimulating activities can reduce your risk of Alzheimer?s disease, so give your brain a boost by packing a crossword, Sudoku puzzle or book for those quiet moments. Alternatively, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles found that browsing the web helps boost brain health in those middle-aged and older, while studies have suggested that listening to music can improve immunity, lower stress and improve heart health, so squeeze an iPod or web-enabled phone into your handbag for a quick health boost.

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