Traveling can be fun and exciting, but it can also subject the body to a number of stresses. Coming down with traveler’s diarrhea in the middle of a trip forces you to spend extra time inside the bathroom. It is an uncomfortable experience that could cause you to alter your plans or even end your travels prematurely.
Normally, when people travel, it becomes more difficult to access the kind of foods that make up their usual meals back home, or anything similar. Travelers often eat out a lot, which subjects their stomachs to more unusual spices, ingredients and flavors. In some cases, they may need to consume more processed foods when traveling from one point to another than they normally would back home, because they may be more convenient.
All of these factors can place significant stress on the body, particularly on the digestive system. In addition to diarrhea, it is not uncommon for travelers to experience an upset stomach or bloating as the body tries to adjust to unfamiliar foods and drinks.
Here are a few tips to keep your gut healthy and prevent traveler’s diarrhea while on a trip:
Eat more fiber
Irregular bowel movements and constipation are caused by a lack of fiber in the diet. To reduce the amount of shock the trip brings to your body, try to include more fiber in your meals. Besides fruits and vegetables, other foods rich in fiber include whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts.
You can also reduce your risk of food poisoning and other foodborne diseases by cleaning your fruits and peeling them. When it comes to vegetables, stick to dishes where the greens have been cooked thoroughly.
Bring healthier snacks
Reaching for unhealthy processed foods is a huge temptation when you travel. To minimize your consumption of snacks that are high in sugar and low in fiber, look for healthier alternatives at the local market. Buy and pack some fruits, vegetables, nuts, or foods that contain these, to get your daily dose of wholesome nutrition.
Opt for snacks containing probiotics whenever you take a trip to the supermarket or convenience store. Yoghurt is primarily considered as one of the best sources as it contains the bacteria your gut needs to stay healthy. It may also be served to people with lactose intolerance as the bacteria convert some of the lactose into lactose acid, resulting in the yogurt’s sour taste.
Some types of cheese contain a healthy amount of probiotics. In cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella, Gouda and cottage cheese, the good bacteria can survive the manufacturing and aging process.
Pick your drinks carefully
Some of the more common and popular drinks for a trip contain a high percentage of caffeine, sugar or even alcohol. Avoid drinking these types of drinks as they reduce the amount of time your intestines get to absorb water. When you drink sodas, liquor or caffeinated drinks, you speed up the digestion process, causing your body to excrete watery stools.
Diarrhea causes dehydration as well. As such, try to drink as much water as you can. Bring water during your walks or trips to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
Stick to bottled water if you are worried about the cleanliness of the water in your hotel or restaurant. Refuse ice in your drinks, especially in cases where you are unsure of where the water was taken from or how it was treated.
Wash your hands
The bacteria in your hands can contaminate the food that you hold. As such, avoid holding any food with your bare hands. You should also aim to wash your hands before any meal to prevent the spread of germs or diseases.
If you plan on eating with your hands, look for a restroom where you can wash your hands before you start eating. As much as possible, wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Be as thorough as possible by scrubbing every inch, especially around the fingers and under the nails.
Pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol wherever you go. Nothing beats washing your hands with soap and water, but using a hand sanitizer can minimize the germs in your hands.
Part of the fun when traveling is sampling the local dishes and delicacies. There is nothing wrong with trying out new foods, but as much as possible, avoid overeating.
Overeating has been known to stretch the muscles in your stomach. An increased intake of food equates to a longer digestion time. This can lead to bloating and increases the chances of creating food obstructions in your body.
There is no way of knowing how your stomach and body will react to the exotic cuisine and spices you come across during your trip. As such, don’t forget to pack over-the-counter medications for some common minor ailments. Buy some antacids for potential heartburn and anti-diarrhea medicine for adults or kids if you are traveling with your children.
Traveling allows you to explore new cultures and wonderful cuisines, and to learn about the world beyond your own country. However, being in a foreign place comes with some challenges. Remember and follow these tips to prevent stomach issues from dragging you down during your trip.