School’s out and summer holidays are underway! For many of us the early morning rush to the airport with our carry ons and frantic double checking of passports and tickets is only days away. In the midst of this chaos and excitement, it’s easy to let your regular health regime go out the window.
It’s important to remember that your body, specifically your gut, will experience a lot of changes during the thrill of traveling. Holidays are a chance to break out of the usual routine, but this can spell trouble for your gut. Keeping your gut and digestive system balanced and happy means that you will have happier and healthier travels with little discomfort.
So, what aspects of travelling can affect your health and how?
The change of air pressure whilst on a plane can affect your digestive system and a build-up of gas can lead to bloating, constipation and stomach pains. Did you know that on a 3hour flight, you can shed up to 1.5 litres of water?
Here are some top tips for traveling on a plane which can help you to avoid any health problems. You can: walk around, drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and drink bottled beverages.
Traveling to different time zones
All of the living microorganisms in your body have biological clocks and can be thrown off by international travel. Within your microbiome, microbes can change in composition and function and can become far less efficient at tasks like cell growth.
This usually rectifies itself a couple of weeks after travelling, but there are a few things you can do to help avoid jet lag: get a good night’s sleep before flying, avoid arriving at night, avoid sleeping pills and get some exercise. You can also alter your eating plan by consuming smaller amounts at your regular meal time until you adjust to the change.
Drinking contaminated water can be a serious health problem, mainly because the pathogens in the water are foreign to your immune system, while locals have adapted to the water supply.
The best way to avoid contaminated water is to drink bottled water instead. You can also boil water and allow it to stand uncovered for 20-30 minutes to dechlorinate, as well as taking some good purification tablets.
Trying different cuisines is one of the highlights of anyone’s holiday. From fine dining to local markets and food vendors, it all becomes very exciting. Whilst this could be an aspect of the holiday you are most looking forward to, your gut may disagree. You’re going to eat foods that you aren’t used to and your body may struggle to break them down. Foreign foods can cause some bad side effects from food poisoning to constipation to traveller’s diarrhoea, which result from bacterial contamination of food or water.
Some ways of preventing sickness is to avoid undercooked meats and food, take extra care with raw fruits and vegetables, stick to food which is being served hot and resist buying from street vendors. And to ensure your gut is as protected as it can be, take a probiotic supplement to give your digestion a dose of beneficial bacteria and boost your immune system.
What can you do?
For all these reasons, being off your normal routine means there is an increased risk of meeting unfamiliar bacteria, which can lead to irregularity within your digestion and microbiome. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy on your travels:
• Stay hydrated
• Consume fibre-rich foods
• Try and consume two glasses of water with every alcoholic beverage
• Swap coffee for herbal tea
• Avoid late meals
• Get plenty of sleep
• Introduce a stretching/exercise routine
• And best of all … take a good probiotic supplement with you
Consuming probiotics can fill the gut up with good bacteria which boost the immune system and help ward off any pathogenic bacteria your body encounters. Experts suggest taking a probiotic 2 weeks before you travel, to pre boost your gut and allow good bacteria to form and establish themselves as well as continuing to take it daily during your time away.
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