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10 health experts reveal the ONE item they would take to a desert island

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were stuck on a desert island? We spoke to 10 top health experts in the UK to find out what they would take and why

If you were stuck on a desert island and only had the choice to take one item to save your health, what would it be? We decided to ask some of the best health experts in Britain to see what they would take with them if they could only choose ONE item (and sunscreen wasn’t allowed as we assumed everyone was have that!).

1. THE AGONY AUNT – meditation book and CD of guided meditations

Sally Brown is a psychotherapist and an agony aunt for Healthista. Sally is registered with the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, which means she has the qualifications and experience to work safely and effectively. She also writes about emotional and psychological health for the national press.

‘I would take my favourite meditation book and CD of guided meditations: Mindfulness: A Practical Guide for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams.

‘It’s a very readable beginner’s guide, but as my meditation practise has deepened over the years, I find myself going back to it, to inspire me, give me focus, or just reassure me that all is ok with the world.

It’s great for helping you fall back to sleep when you’ve woken in the middle of the night with a million worries on your mind

‘It comes with a CD of guided meditations that you work through as you read the book. My favourite is the Body Scan, a 20-minute meditation where you focus your attention on specific sections of your body from your toes to the top of your head in a set sequence. It’s a good way of ‘checking in’ with yourself at the start of day, and noticing where you’re holding onto tension, and which bits of your body are trying to tell you they need some care and attention. And done at the end of the day, it’s a fail-safe way to switch off a racing brain and fall asleep. It’s also great for helping you fall back to sleep when you’ve woken in the middle of the night with a million worries on your mind.

‘It could be useful to help me stay calm and enjoy the peace and quiet’.

2. THE ANTI-AGEING GURU – fresh juice

Dr Maryam Zamani is an American trained and board certified opthalmologist whose experience with oculoplastic surgery and dermatology underpin her exclusive facial aesthetics practice.

‘I would take a supply of dr. green love from The Good Life Eatery. The sea, sun (and protection) with a yummy healthy juice is my idea of perfect relaxation. I feel energised and refreshed with this particular juice. I go to the good life eatery every week day for my fix. It has spinach and kale in it as well as coconut and green apple to make it a bit sweet.

I like to have a healthy juice every day that I can indulge in.  In the am I awake with a large mug of lemon/ginger boiled at home and then have an avocado on brown toast with olive oil, salt and pepper and I like this doctor green love. Given my busy work schedule, I indulge in one juice a day about 10 am’.

MORE: 10 best healthy restaurants in London to get you beach-body ready

3. THE DENTIST – floss
James Goolnik is the clinical director and founder of Bow Lane Dental Group in London. His book ‘Brush’ is a number one best seller on Amazon and ALL the profits go to charity Dentaid. The first project was is in Malawi where James installed a two surgery dental practice and lead a dental team to deliver a skills transfer workshop.

I would pick floss over a toothbrush as you can use your fingers or a stick from a branch to chew to clean teeth or a piece of clothing

‘I would take floss. I can’t think of anything worse than a mucky mouth and bad breath, even if I am on the island on my own. Floss also has loads of other great survival uses. You can use it for a fishing line to catch food. For starting a fire, as waxed floss burns easily. For sewing to repair my clothes or fix back buttons. And for keeping food away from animals as I could tie the food up and hang it from a tree out of reach.

‘I would pick floss over a toothbrush as you can use your fingers or a stick from a branch to chew to clean teeth or a piece of clothing. I like GUM ButlerWeave Unwaxed Dental Floss as it removes more particles than waxed floss and is very strong. Without modern food my diet will likely be better for my teeth with no sugar’.

MORE: The truth about bad breath

4. THE DERMATOLOGIST – sun protective clothing

sun protective clothing, desert island, by

Dr Nicholas Lowe is is an internationally renowned consultant dermatologist with over 30 years experience at the cutting edge of new treatments, technology and research. Dr Lowe is the author or co-author of over 450 clinical and research publications, 15 scientific and four educational books for the public. He owns and works at Cranley clinic, one of London’s most exclusive beauty clinics.

‘If I’m stuck on a desert island with lots of sun, there are some permanent sun protective clothing that has SPF’s of around 100. You will run out of suncream – you can’t keep applying sunscreen. If you had good pieces of sun protective clothing it would last you on your desert island and it would always be there and always protecting.

If you had no sun protection at all you could easily get enough sunburn blistering that you could die of dehydration, toxicity and sunburn

‘The difference between sun cream and sun protective clothing is that sun protective clothing has been developed with a special textile weave that gives sun protection when it’s both wet and dry.

‘If you had no sun protection at all and you have relatively light brown or fair skin you could easily get enough sunburn blistering that you could die of dehydration, toxicity and sunburn which people have died from before because when it’s very severe you can lose the ability to regulate heat. You can die of the equivalent of a severe burn’.

Dr. Lowe uses Sun Precautions long sleeved tops. He did some research which proved it kept its SPF 100+ even when it’s wet. The sun protective clothing is lightweight so it’s comfortable to wear when it’s hot and easy to pack as it folds and rolls up so it’s thin.


If you have sun sensitive skin and/or skin cancer risk, use sun protective clothing including hats or caps between 10am – 2pm on sunny days, available from:

MORE: 10 best sunscreens for under make-up, during exercise and on a budget


coconut oil, desert island, by

Wendy Rowe has over 20 years of experience in the make-up industry with a long string of celebrity clients including the likes of Kate Hudson, Cara Delevingne and Nicole Kidman. Wendy’s uncomplicated and holistic approach to beauty is focussed on taking care of your skin from the inside out. Her first book, Eat Beautiful, encourages everyone to try simple recipes and key foods in order to help their skin. 

‘I would take coconut oil as its uses are many from just one product.

‘Not only is it moisturising but it can be used on hair, on your skin – it does have a very low natural sunscreen in it, and even could be used for oil pulling to keep your mouth fresh and reduce bacteria.

‘It also can be used to treat infections, for cooking with or even just take a spoonful’.

MORE: 5 summer beauty foods from the A-list makeup artist

6. THE GP – sunglasses with UV protection

sunglasses, desert island, by

Dr Golda Parker is a GP working in the north-west of England both within the NHS and in private practice. She is involved in medical education, being a Royal College GP trainer and academic advisor at Manchester Medical School. Her areas of specialist interest are women and children’s health.

‘I would take sunglasses with UV protection so that I could help protect my eyes from macular degeneration – a condition that affects the central part of the vision and is more prevalent with advancing age.

‘Macular degeneration is estimated to affect 600,000 people in the UK and is one of the main reasons for loss of sight. It is more common to develop macular degeneration over the age of 50 and the NHS estimates that a tenth of people over 65 will suffer from a degree of macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration is estimated to affect 600,000 people in the UK and is one of the main reasons for loss of sight

‘Patients who suffer from macular degeneration find that the central part of their sight deteriorates, i.e. anything that they see straight on when they look ahead. This can mean that recognising faces or reading can become difficult.

‘Sunglasses will be labelled if they block out UVA and UVB light, but you want to look for glasses that block all UVA and UVB light for protection’.

7. THE NUTRITIONIST – a swiss army knife

swiss pen knife, desert island, by

Charlotte Watts is a nutritionist and yoga teacher whose work has focused on how nutrition and yoga can meet to help people cope with the demands we face in the 21st century. Her practice and teaching of mindfulness weaves these together and has culminated in her new book The De-Stress Effect: Rebalance Your Body’s Systems for Vibrant Health and Happiness.

‘A really decent Swiss Army knife or pen knife type affair, preferably with a little saw on it. I’m a pragmatist and think that would give me the best chance of survival.

I could kill things to eat. Vegetarians would not be able to be one for long with just vegetation to eat

‘It would be good for creating chords from plant stems to make twine for shelters and binding stuff. I could also use it as a saw to get branches to make shelter, as one of the most key aspects to health is preventing damp and infection.

‘I could kill things to eat. Vegetarians would not be able to be one for long with just vegetation to eat. I could also dig up decent plant matter to eat, for example tubers, and could strip back edible parts of plants.

‘It could also be useful for fashioning things to collect water, for example, leaves into shapes’.

MORE: What it really feels like to have severe acne

8. THE PERSONAL TRAINER – a swissball (fitball)

swissball, desert island, by

Henlu Van Der Westhuizen is the co-founder of the well known HHH Health Retreats and he is one of London’s most successful and popular Master Personal Trainers. His degree in Sport Science & Nutrition, his business background, and 15 years of experience in the health, wellness and fitness industry is what makes him so popular.

From a training perspective I would take a Swissball (fitball) as you can basically do all types of exercise with it! Plus I guess it will help you stay afloat if you’re in the ocean

‘From a training perspective I would take a Swissball (fitball) as you can basically do all types of exercise with it! Plus I guess it will help you stay afloat if you’re in the ocean.

‘The Swiss ball works a lot more muscles all over the body ie stabilisers, hip flexors etc as the ball is round and you’re not stable; so balance and all muscles are challenged in a different way. By doing so you’re burning more calories and your core (lower back, abs, obliques, glutes etc) is working much harder.

‘You can’t cheat on the ball and it makes you work harder as stated above’.


Supine leg curl with Swiss ball
supine leg curl, desert island, by
1. Lie on your back with your arms to your sides and your feet on top of the Swiss ball.

2. Raise your hips off of the floor, making sure that your weight is on your shoulder blades and feet.

3. Pull the ball as close to you as you can, using the hamstrings.

4. Pause for a couple of seconds and return to the starting position.

Jack knife with Swiss ball

Jackknife with swissball, desert island, by

  1. Start in a press-up position with your feet resting on a Swiss ball.

2. Bring your knees in close towards your chest, flexing your core.

3. Squeeze your abs before returning to the start.

MORE: The fitness retreat where you won’t know you’re on a diet

9. THE YOGA TEACHER – lavender oil

Lavender oil, desert island, by

Nadia Narain is a well known yoga teacher at Triyoga – she has taught there since it first opened in 2000. As well as her classes in Triyoga studios in Soho and Camden, Nadia teaches in retreats and also has three DVD’s available on Amazon: Everyday Yoga for Stress Release, Pregnancy Yoga and Flow Yoga.

‘I would take lavender oil as you could use it as a repellant against bugs, to heal your skin from any infection or sunburn and it could keep you calm in stressful times.

‘Lavender is a universal oil that balances out the body and to work wherever there is a need. It is the most used essential oil in the world which helps to prevent scare tissue from forming and reduces the appearance of existing scar tissue. So it would be good for any kind of burns, sun burn or heat.

‘Lavender was used in the 17th century plague – people put lavender flowers around their waists believing it would protect them from the Black Death due to its antibacterial properties – so I’m thinking it’s good for anything that may get infected

‘Lavender calms the insecurities and supports individuals in releasing the tension and constriction that stems from fear. Which may be how I would feel if I was on a desert island at night.

‘The smell of lavender oil is potent for many types of insects like mosquitoes, moths, flies etc… so I would apply lavender oil to the skin to prevent irritating bites. If you have already been bitten by an insect, the lavender oil has anti-inflammatory qualities that will reduce irritation’.

MORE: Yoga classes on the rooftop at Selfridges, the new pop up from hot London studio Triyoga

10. THE PSYCHOTHERAPIST – a firelighting kit

fire lighting kit, desert island, by

And now for someone who actually HAS been on a desert island. If anyone knows about surviving on a desert island it is Chavala Parker. In 2014 she took part in Channel 4’s The Island with Bear Grylls where she actually had to survive for six weeks on a desert island.

Chavala took part in Channel 4’s ’The Island with Bear Grylls’ where she actually had to survive for 6 weeks on a desert island

Chavala is a psychotherapist who offers talking therapies and creative therapies to children and young people across Lancashire. She also work with lots of parents and teachers to help improve their relationships with their children or students. She has recently worked with CBBC to create a television programme called Lifebabble.

‘The biggest lifesaver on a desert island would be a firelighting kit or a lighter, as this would allow you to sterilise water to use for drinking, to cook, smoke meat for preservation, keep warm, keep your clothes dry, for lighting and to keep insects/predators at bay; to name but a few. Making fire the traditional way is hard work (although it’s an amazing workout)’.

MORE: 6 ways to lose weight – by the A-list trainer

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