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Whether we’re gearing up for an overseas dream vacation or a spontaneous weekend getaway, taking care of our gut health isn’t typically a priority.

Yet, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or just heading out of state, the last thing you want is tummy troubles ruining your trip. Even if you usually boast a resilient stomach, travel can throw it off balance.

In this article, we’ll explore ways to safeguard your gut health and ensure that digestive issues don’t put a damper on your vacation.

Why Does Gut Trouble Happen? 

It’s amazing to ponder, but our digestive tracts, also known as the gut or “microbiome,” play host to a community of microorganisms. This system comprises around 100 trillion cells and accommodates up to 2000 different types of bacteria.

Referred to as probiotics, these beneficial bacteria:

  1. Encourage proper digestion and regularity
  2. Could enhance mood
  3. Support and nurture the gut lining
  4. Generate vitamins such as Vitamin K and B12, aiding nutrient absorption

These beneficial microorganisms, residing mainly in our large and small intestines, constitute 70-80% of our immune system, serving as our first line of defense against harmful pathogens and microbes.

But when you’re traveling, factors like stress, changes in diet, and jet lag can upset your gut balance. This may lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, or nausea.

Taking care of your gut health while you’re traveling can be challenging.

Here Are Some Tips to Help You Support Your Gut Health on the Go!

1. Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is crucial for gut health, and it’s especially vital when traveling to hot or dry destinations. If you’re flying, the dry air inside the airplane can contribute to dehydration before reaching your destination.

Water plays a key role in flushing out toxins, preventing constipation, and maintaining the balance of your gut flora. Staying hydrated will also aid in recovering from jet lag.

Ensure that the water at your destination is filtered and safe to drink, especially when traveling abroad. If in doubt, opt for bottled water, as even ice cubes can be contaminated.

Aim to consume at least 2 liters of water per day, and consider increasing your intake if you’re consuming beverages with caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate and irritate your gut.

Coconut water, with its 95 percent water content, is a hydrating and healthy alternative to water. It’s a better choice than processed fruit juices, sports drinks, and sodas that contain added sugar and preservatives.

While coffee is acceptable in moderation, exceeding 2 cups (which can contain 200-300 milligrams of caffeine) may lead to dehydration. Consider switching to decaf or enjoying herbal teas instead.

Tip: Pack your favorite herbal tea bags to have a flavorful coffee alternative, that keeps you hydrated on the go.

2. Support Your Immune System With Vitamin D

Research indicates that supplementing with vitamin D can notably enhance the resilience of gut cells, fortify the immune system, and enhance the diversity of our gut biome (9). A more diverse microbiome is associated with better overall health.

While sunlight exposure is a primary source of vitamin D, you can also obtain it in smaller amounts from foods like fatty fish (salmon), egg yolks, cheese, and fortified milk or cereals (10).

When traveling, especially if you won’t be spending much time outdoors, vitamin D supplements offer a reliable and secure way to ensure you get the necessary “sunshine vitamin.”

3. Supplement With Zinc

The joy of traveling lies in its ability to introduce us to new wonders. However, amid the excitement of discovering new places, meeting people, trying different cuisines, and having unique experiences, we may also encounter various germs. Zinc, an essential mineral, plays a crucial role in supporting the gut and immune system while on the move.

Zinc contributes to the reinforcement of the gut lining, helping to prevent leaky gut syndrome—a condition where pockets in the gut lining allow harmful substances like toxins and bacteria to pass into the bloodstream.

Moreover, the body relies on zinc for the production of digestive enzymes, essential for breaking down food effectively and facilitating the absorption of vital nutrients that contribute to our well-being.

Whole foods like oysters, beef, chicken, turkey, pumpkin seeds, lentils, and quinoa are rich in zinc, so a zinc supplement can be a more convenient source when you’re on the go. It is often included in complete multivitamins for added ease.

4. Reduce Travel Stress

Traveling brings the potential for wonderful experiences, yet the hassles of delayed flights, lost reservations, and trip preparations can induce stress. Research indicates that even short-term stress can hurt the abundance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This, in turn, weakens the intestinal barrier, making us more susceptible to digestive issues.

A Few Ways You Can Reduce Stress to Improve Gut Health on the Go Include:

  1. Exercise like walking, yoga, and tai chi
  2. Meditation
  3. Breathing exercises
  4. Reading and listening to music

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, stepping into nature is another excellent way to alleviate stress.

5. Get on Board With Prebiotics (Fiber)

Eating fiber on vacation might not sound like the most exciting thing, but it can do wonders for your gut.

Fiber acts as a prebiotic, and a diet rich in plant-based foods with fiber nourishes the good bacteria in your gut, helping them thrive and grow. As these bacteria digest fiber, they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which contribute to healthy digestion, reduce inflammation, and nourish the cells in the lining of our colon. Additionally, fiber aids in preventing constipation, lowering bad cholesterol levels, and regulating blood sugar.

Include plant-based foods like bananas, oats, apples, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, lentils, chickpeas, and nuts in your diet to enjoy these prebiotic benefits.

6. Pack Some Probiotics 

  1. To stay healthy, our microbiomes need to be replenished with probiotics.
  2. While fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi are natural sources of probiotics, we don’t always have access to these foods while traveling.
  3. Taking a daily probiotic supplement is a convenient way to support your gut health on the go.

It’s Best to Choose a Probiotic Formula That:

  1. Guarantees the viability of probiotic strains
  2. Includes strains that are high quality and well-studied
  3.  Can survive stomach acid to colonize the intestines for maximum effectiveness

Probiotics are measured in CFUs (colony-forming units), indicating how many probiotics are in each serving at the time of manufacture (usually between 1-100 billion).

 Higher CFU formulas may seem like the best option, but studies show that the quality of the strains in the probiotic is more important than the quantity of strains.

If you’re traveling, Flora Health’s Travel Care Probiotic is the perfect choice. Designed based on science and made with clean ingredients, Travel Care Probiotic is formulated with the friendly probiotic yeast strain Saccharomyces boulardii.

 Clinically studied for decades, Saccharomyces boulardii supports digestive health and restores gut flora balance.

 A 2019 review found that S. boulardii was the most effective in preventing traveler’s diarrhea compared to two other probiotics.

Saccharomyces boulardii may also:

  1. Stimulate the immune system to help defend against infections
  2.  Support the production of digestive enzymes 
  3. Reduce the occurrence of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and traveler’s diarrhea

Providing 5 Billion Cells per Capsule, Travel Care Probiotic Is Also:

  1. Formulated to survive stomach acid, ensuring the probiotics reach your gut intact
  2. Not affected by antibiotics
  3. Safe for ages six and up. Gluten-free, non-dairy, and non-GMO

With no need for refrigeration, Travel Care Probiotic is a convenient and effective way to support your gut while on the go.

Tip: Begin taking Travel Care Probiotic up to a week before you travel to give your gut a boost before you go.

7. Take Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in numerous biochemical reactions in the body, many of which are related to gut health.

Magnesium can aid in relaxing your intestinal muscles, promoting smooth bowel movements.

Additionally, magnesium may help alleviate the stress and anxiety often induced by travel, which can negatively impact gut health.

Excellent sources of magnesium include spinach, avocado, banana, dark chocolate, almonds, cashews, and tofu. For travel convenience, opting for a magnesium supplement is a practical choice.

8. Get Your Body Moving

Lounging on a beach for a week sounds amazing. However, staying active can contribute to good digestion and gut health.

Exercise not only boosts immunity and mood (34, 35, 36) but also facilitates the faster movement of food, nutrients, and acids through your intestines (37). This can help reduce the risk of symptoms like heartburn (acid reflux) and bloating.

Recent studies have even found evidence suggesting that exercise can increase the number and diversity of beneficial bacteria, positively influencing gut health (38, 39). More active people tend to have better quality and quantity of health-boosting gut microbes (40).

Strive for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or yoga. You can also incorporate light stretching in your hotel room or on the plane to relax your muscles and ease digestion.

9. Keep Your Hands Clean

Airports, train stations, ride shares, and hotels are magnets for germs.

Consistently washing your hands before eating can prevent the contamination of your foods with harmful bacteria and viruses that may end up in your gut.

Always steer clear of touching your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are unwashed. Pack sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol for a convenient way to sanitize your hands on the go.

10. Be Mindful of What and How Much You’re Eating 

It’s tempting to overindulge when you’re traveling. Overeating can lead to weight gain, but it can also stress your digestive system and cause symptoms like indigestion, heartburn, gas, bloating, and nausea.

Here are more tips to keep your eating habits on track to keep your digestion running smoothly:

  1. Avoid processed foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt, as they can feed harmful bacteria. 
  2. Limit spicy, greasy, or processed foods, which can cause inflammation and gut upset, leading to symptoms like gas, pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. 
  3. Try to eat smaller portions, chew your food well, and stop eating when you feel satisfied, not stuffed.
  4. You can eat mindfully and still enjoy yourself. If you have access to a refrigerator, wrap your leftovers if you’re full and take them to enjoy later.

11. Avoid “Adventurous” or Risky Foods

Before you head out, it’s best to be prepared and pack some over-the-counter meds in your carry-on in case you get some digestive issues.

Traveler’s diarrhea is common and can happen when you’re in a new environment, eating food and water from sources your body isn’t used to.

The CDC warns that traveler’s diarrhea can occur anywhere and affects 30-70% of travelers depending on the season and location.

High-Risk Destinations Include:

  1. Asia (except for Japan and South Korea),
  2. Africa,
  3. the Middle East,
  4. Mexico
  5. Central and South America.

To help cut down on the chances of getting traveler’s diarrhea, the CDC has put together a list of food and safety tips.

Antacids: Made of calcium, these tablets can calm your stomach if acid reflux and indigestion kick in.

Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto): This can treat diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, and upset stomach. Pack the chewable capsules instead of the liquid for easy travel.

Loperamide (Imodium): This medicine slows or stops diarrhea so you can absorb liquids, electrolytes, and nutrients, preventing dehydration. This drug can make you tired, so it’s best not to take it unless needed.

Symptoms of food poisoning while traveling can include:

  1. Nausea
  2. Vomiting
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Stomach cramps
  5. Fever
  6. Loss of appetite 

Symptoms can kick in within hours or days of consuming contaminated food or drinking unsafe water. Food poisoning can be mild or severe, and sometimes it can lead to dehydration or other complications.

If you’re dealing with food poisoning symptoms during your travels, make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding solid foods until you start feeling better. If your digestive symptoms persist for more than a few days, seek medical attention.

13. Take Digestive Enzymes With Your Meals

While you’re on the go, incorporating digestive enzymes into your routine can enhance healthy digestion and help your body process food more efficiently. A valuable addition to your travel essentials, digestive enzymes can assist in alleviating symptoms like gas and bloating, promoting overall comfort.

For a comprehensive digestive enzyme formula that supports healthy digestion, consider Flora’s Enzyme Blend. This excellent choice includes a variety of enzymes such as bromelain, protease 4.5, amylase, lipase, and lactase to facilitate optimal digestion of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, and complex sugars.

  1.  It also provides support for maximum nutrient absorption.
  2.  Plus, it’s an allergen-free formula that’s Gluten-Free, non-GMO, and suitable for vegetarians.

14. Limit Alcohol

Enjoying a few cocktails or glasses of wine on vacation is perfectly fine. However, going overboard can disrupt your gut balance. Alcohol interferes with our natural appetite signals, leading to unnecessary eating even when not hungry. Additionally, alcohol can induce dehydration, bloating, irritation of the digestive tract, and accelerated digestion, potentially causing diarrhea.

It’s important to note that alcoholic drinks with sugary mixers and fruit juices can nourish harmful gut bacteria, triggering unpleasant symptoms. To maintain a healthy balance, consider limiting yourself to one alcoholic drink per day.

Final Thoughts

By following these tips, you can support your gut health while traveling and have a more enjoyable trip. Remember, your gut is your friend on your journey. Treat it well, and it will treat you well too!

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