Traveling Could Negatively Impact Your Gut Flora
4 min Read
When you decide to leave and unplug, to visit new places and undertake a rather long & adventurous journey, one of the biggest setbacks is to suffer from intestinal problems while traveling.
On vacation, due to the sudden change in routines and eating habits, the natural balance in the body is often compromised. Our bodies have been used to the same rhythms, thus changing a routine too quickly does not allow enough time for bacterial flora to adapt. These changes don’t allow the bacterial flora the opportunity to adapt. Any unusual drinks and new foods, that the body is unfamiliar with, can further affect the already disrupted intestinal balance. In the case of more adventurous travels, to particularly far-away destinations, it is sometimes the lack of sanitary standards, water or contaminated foods that threaten the balance of our intestinal flora.
Let’s take a look at the common gut disorders that occur during travel
If you happen to experience abdominal pains during your trip and have less frequent defecation upon arrival at your destination, or if your stools are noticeably hard, you may be experiencing constipation.
Travelers’ diarrhea is characterized by the evacuation of feces in liquid form 2 or 3 times within 24 hours. Sometimes it is accompanied by severe fatigue, and in severe cases it also manifests itself with mild or high fever. It usually appears 2-3 days into a trip and lasts up to 5 days.
Abdominal pain is a very common complaint amongst travelers. The main causes include inadequate nutrition and anxiety problems. When traveling, there is no shortage of anxiety and unfamiliar foods not usually found back home. A new routine, imposed by a long journey, will alter the timing and ritual of digestion, which can cause abdominal pain. Abdominal pain also occurs in association with travelers’ diarrhea or following a febrile gastroenteritis caused by salmonella. Always seek the help of a doctor or HCP.
How to prevent intestinal problems when traveling?
The intestinal flora is made up of “good” bacteria, but also of potentially harmful bacteria, both of which are essential for preserving the health and functions of the gut. Under normal conditions there is a perfect balance between these types of bacteria, but some situations can affect this harmony, favoring the establishment and proliferation of pathogenic bacteria and thus causing intestinal disorders. To help prevent the onset of gut disorder during travel, it’s helpful to follow a few simple rules:
Make a point of being relaxed, and try not to get overwhelmed with stress and angst.
Don’t alter your eating habits too drastically. It’s good to try to maintain your homely habits and set aside the temptation to try new foods and drinks, at least for a few days. Opt for foods such as vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts and natural yoghurts.
Avoid raw foods and avoid eating naturally fermenting foods, such as potatoes, broccoli, cabbage and all fizzy drinks that can increase gas production in the stomach.
Avoid bulk-made drinks (always opt for sealed bottled where possible) and hydrate yourself with liquids that restore the mineral salts lost during travel.
Avoid putting ice in your drinks, these are prime location for water-born contaminants.
Make time for physical activities throughout your trip, even if just a brisk walk each morning.
Probiotics containing: Bifidobacteria, Bacillus clausii, Lactobacilli, Eubacteria
It’s often useful, with the recommendation of a doctor, to take probiotics that protect the intestinal flora and can help reduce the risk of travelers’ diarrhea.Treatment should generally begin a few days before the trip and continue for the duration of the stay. Discuss your prevention plan with your health care provider prior to embarking on your journey.