When travelling you need to ensure that your gut is ready for not just the change of scenery, but more importantly the change in diet. Here are some of our most common questions answered in regards to gut-friendly holiday tips from our in-house nutritionist.
Don’t stray too far from your usual diet
Are there foods that you react to? Do you know that eating a particular food is likely to cause bloating or diarrhoea? Whilst we all like to try different foods and drinks whilst on holiday, we suggest perhaps trying one new food a day and avoiding any foods that you know trigger a reaction, such as gluten, dairy or sugar.
Avoid local water
Drink only bottled or boiled water and be aware of food washed in local water, such as salad and fruit, and ice in drinks. Local water can include bacteria and parasites that our body is not used to and ingesting them can lead to traveller’s diarrhoea and other digestive issues.
Stay hydrated at all times
It is easy to become dehydrated whilst travelling and to underestimate the amount we need to drink to remain hydrated in warmer climates. The answer is water, water and more water. Bring your own bottle and keep refilling it, both during transit and throughout your holiday – sparkling water is more likely to cause bloating and gas.
Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
As well as drinking lots of water, limiting alcohol and caffeine can help avoid dehydration and constipation. Caffeine and alcohol can also speed up digestion in some cases and lead to diarrhoea, which can be an issue when out sightseeing or travelling.
Focus on a healthy diet
Eat lots of fibre (found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and beans) to help keep your bowels moving. Include leafy greens, herbs and spices, healthy fats and protein. And don’t over-eat.
Don’t forget the probiotics
Contact with unfamiliar bacteria, changes in time zones, different foods, air travel, dehydration and stress can all affect the healthy balance of our gut bacteria. Live bacteria supplements help to maintain the ratio of good to bad bacteria and to keep our digestive system in balance. Probiotic foods, such as yoghurt and kefir can help, but taking a daily high-strength live bacteria supplement before, during and after our trip is a reliable and safe way of supporting our gut.
Get enough rest day and night
A different bed, in a new environment, with different noises, temperatures and smells can all affect sleep. Combining this with time-zone variations and the resulting jetlag and change in routine can lead to changes in the regularity and completeness of bowel movements. Sleep deprivation can also increase stress, which can affect the gut microbiome. Try to adjust to the local time-zone as quickly as possible and build in some periods of rest during the day.
Move your body every day
Exercise, stretching and any form of movement can help to support digestion. Get up and walk around on the plane, or at least do leg, ankle, arm and neck exercises in your seat. Stretch or do a short yoga session when you arrive at your destination. Stay active throughout the holiday to keep your digestion moving.
Peppermint and ginger can soothe an upset tummy
Pack some peppermint or ginger teabags in your hand luggage. Peppermint has been shown to help relax muscles in the digestive tract. Ginger helps with both nausea and stomach upset, helping to reduce bloating.
Support healthy bowel habits
As well as probiotics, there are a number of other supplements that can help to support healthy bowel habits. Magnesium helps to calm the nervous system and is also a muscle relaxant so can help with constipation. Prebiotics help to feed the beneficial bacteria in our guts to support digestion and digestive enzymes help to break down the food in our digestive system.
Find accommodation with a kitchen
Preparation and cooking of the food we eat whilst on holiday is often out of our control. If you have serious digestive issues, we suggest finding accommodation with a kitchen and buying food at a local supermarket to prepare yourself. You can still enjoy snacks and drinks at local restaurants and bars.
Stock up on healthy snacks
Pack your own healthy snacks for the flight (nuts, protein bars, fruit) and find a grocery store on the first day of your holiday to stock up on nutritious snacks to prevent the temptation to grab whatever is available throughout your trip.
Don’t eat anything you’re not sure about
If you have any doubts, don’t eat it. If it looks or smells ‘off’, undercooked or like it has been sitting around for a while, don’t eat it. If the restaurant, cafe or vendor is dirty or empty, don’t eat there. And be careful of salads (especially lettuce) – cooked vegetables are a safer option.
Don’t suppress the urge to poop
Some people (particularly children) don’t like pooping outside their own home and suppress the urge when it happens. This can lead to constipation and ‘backing up’ of poop in the intestines, which can be difficult to clear.