Probiotics To Help Fend Off Foreign Bugs

We all look forward to our holidays and are travelling to more and more exotic places, putting us and our families in contact with a wide range of bacteria that our bodies are not normally exposed to.

Add to this changes in time zones, lack of sleep, excess food (and alcohol for adults), air travel, dehydration and other ‘unusual’ stressors, and we can find that our immune system starts to struggle to fight the foreign bugs and that we get bloated and/or constipated.

The threat of travellers’ diarrhoea is also real and affects up to half of all people travelling abroad. Travellers’ diarrhoea comes from food or water contaminated with common bacteria from the new environment, but which we are new to us. It generally takes a day or two to appear and can last up to 10 days, easily affecting (or ruining!) our well-earned holiday.

Live bacteria (probiotics) help to maintain the ratio of good to bad bacteria and have been shown to help prevent travellers’ diarrhoea safely. They have also been shown to be safe for the whole family – from newborn babies and pregnant mums to the elderly.

probiotics boost immunity on holiday

How to take probiotics for travel

  • Always choose research-backed probiotics that are stable at room temperature - good manufacturers now have the technology to keep high potency probiotics stable for 18-24 months in room temperature conditions. (In very high temperatures, probiotics will need to be stored in a cool place or in a fridge).
  • Start taking the probiotics daily with food 7 days before you leave.
  • Take double the recommended dose for the duration of your holiday (particularly if you are holidaying in a remote destination) – one dose in the morning with breakfast and one in the evening with dinner.
  • Take the probiotics for a further 7-14 days upon returning home.

General tips for travel health

  1. Maintain a healthy diet that includes lots of vegetables and protein, with a range of brightly coloured foods. Be careful of food washed in local water and try to limit alcohol, processed foods and sugar, which can affect your immune system.
  2. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water – not fizzy or alcoholic drinks – particularly when flying, but also throughout your trip.
  3. Get lots of good quality sleep.
  4. Get some exercise each day – walk around on a long flight and try and do some simple exercises in your room, such as push-ups, squats and plank that do not need any equipment.
  5. Get adequate sunlight to optimise vitamin D levels (or take a vitamin D supplement if you are going somewhere with no sun).
  6. Take a high-quality probiotic that has research evidence to support its safety and effectiveness. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kefir, are also good natural sources of probiotics.
  7. Ginger may help to reduce nausea if you suffer from travel (motion) sickness.
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