Going places this summer?
With summer comes sunshine, patios, beach days, and of course travel.
And though this can be an exciting time it can also be stressful on your body, and in particular, on your gut.
Part of the joys of travel includes the gastronomical experience of enjoying new culinary specialties. But that baguette and ice cream can sometimes come at a heavy price... you know what I mean.
How is our gut influenced by travel?
First of all, travel and jetlag can actually disrupt our gut microbiome by messing with our internal circadian rhythm (a fancy word for our internal clock). Lack of sleep is a common byproduct of traveling which increases cortisol and negatively impacts the health and diversity of the microbiota.
Secondly, we are willing to bet that don't go for the green salad instead of Italian pizza or choose a green smoothie over a freshly baked pastry. Are you also salivating right now?!
It's only normal for us to want to experience the most palatable delicacies when abroad.
Drastic dietary changes can actually influence our gut bacteria, resulting in symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and gas. So yes, your microbes can tell when you choose a cheat meal or add the extra cheese!
Thirdly, the risk of our gut becoming infected with pathogenic bacteria is increased when traveling abroad and consuming food that is contaminated. This can show up as traveler's diarrhea with inflammation of the bowels and malabsorption.
And finally, travel is actually a huge stressor on the body. Changes in time zones, diet modifications, lack of sleep, and emotional stress can all impact the health of the microbiome. Our body loves routine and follows the light of the sun to feel awake, hungry, and sleepy. Have you ever noticed that you feel hunger around the same time of the day or wake up at a specific hour every morning? Your gut is directly impacted by physiological and physical stress and travel is a double whammy in that department.
Of course, we don't want you to miss out or spend your precious days sitting on the throne (not the good kind).
So let's make our microbiome happy on vacation, shall we?
What can we do to minimize the damage and also enjoy ourselves?
This is where probiotics come into play. Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms, that when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Probiotics make up your beneficial bacteria that reside in your gut and have many functions such as boosting immunity, fighting pathogens, increasing nutrient absorption, producing certain vitamins, and promoting the elimination of waste and toxins.
Your microbiome status may predispose you to infections if you have a lower amount of bacterial species, which is why prepping for travel can protect you against traveler's diarrhea and the likes.
Though probiotics may be found in foods, supplements may be recommended in order to achieve therapeutic doses.
We always recommend starting a good quality probiotic before, during, and after your travels for best results.
New Roots Travelers Probiotic helps reduce travel sickness symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and bloating by supplying the gut with 10 billion live cells of the beneficial yeast Saccharomyces boulardii. S. boulardii is commonly used to prevent and treat diarrhea caused by travel, infections and antibiotic use. It has been shown to reduce and prevent symptoms associated with traveler's diarrhea. In addition, New Roots Traveler's Probiotics combines S. boulardii with 11 billion scientifically proven probiotic strains to ensure you maintain a healthy balance of bacteria during your travels.
If you are taking antibiotics, have taken them recently, or are experiencing digestive upset, you may benefit from taking a higher dose of probiotics like New Roots Probiotics Urgency Particularly beneficial for acute infectious diarrhea and reducing the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, Probiotics Urgency provides 50 billion CFU of clinically studied probiotic strains to rid the body of infections and maintain microbial status.
Additional tips and tricks to support digestion on the road
In addition to taking probiotics during your travels, here are some additional suggestions to implement while you are away from home:
Load up on fiber
Combining probiotics with prebiotics can make a significant difference with the health of your microbiome.
Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms such as our good gut bacteria. These compounds are a type of fiber and can be found in plant foods such as chicory, artichoke, dandelion greens, garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, chickpeas, lentils, beans, oats, and unripe bananas.
Always try to fill half your plate with vegetables to ensure you are getting adequate fiber intake for healthy elimination and to feed your microbiome with foods that will make them happy, they will thank you for it.
Practice fasting on the plane
Not only is plane food one of the worst foods out there, but eating on the plane can also cause gut disruption. Fasting has been shown to have tremendous benefits while traveling including reducing jetlag, digestive upset, and regulating the circadian rhythm.
If you can go without eating, opt for a big breakfast on the day of your flight and focus on hydrating liquids in flight instead. Fasting isn't for everyone though so you may want to check in with your physician before attempting or bring snacks if you feel famished.
Bring your own food
Bring along some emergency snacks for the plane and at your destination to ensure you have healthy nutrition while on the road when it's especially hard to find good options. Our favorites include protein bars, raw nuts and seeds, dark chocolate (70% or more raw cacao), coconut chips, nut butter packets, avocado, kale chips, and green juice powders!
When in doubt, avoid
If you don't trust the source of your food or have a bad feeling about the chicken on your plate... don't eat it. When it comes to travel we are confronted with foreign bacteria and foods that may be harmful to our gut. If you are eating in an establishment that is not food safe you also run the risk of picking up infections and traveler's diarrhea, to say the least. Trust your gut, literally.
Your vacation should be enjoyable and stress-free, which is why being prepared is the best way to ensure things run smoothly, pun intended.
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.