Whether you’re hopping in the car for a weekend road trip or boarding an airplane for an adventure
far away traveling is always exciting, but can come with some unexpected tummy challenges as well.
Traveling can be a real trial on the digestive system for many reasons. When we travel we easily slide out of our usual routine with food habits and daily care practices and this can send our digestive system into a tail spin.
Let’s look at some simple tips you can implement on your next get-away to help keep your digestive system happy.
Many people suffer with an increase in gas and bloating from eating foods they normally avoid or trying new foods and over indulging in the large portions set before them at restaurants. The discomfort of excess gas and bloating can be reduced by supporting your body to produce a good amount of digestive enzymes to breakdown your foods as efficiently as possible.
One great way to do this is to start each day of your adventure with a mug of hot water with lemon. The bitterness of lemon stimulates and preps your digestive organs to produce enzymes and gets them ready to tackle the food load of the day. The best thing about this tip is you can access this at any restaurant or coffee shop.
Another way to help get the digestive juices flowing is to have a small amount of diluted apple cider vinegar before each of your meals. Apple cider vinegar is another bitter food and it will also get the digestive juices flowing. It doesn’t need to live in the fridge, so it’s easy to pack and take along. I find using the diluted liquid is much more effective then the capsule version.
There are many herbal teas that are great at supporting proper digestion and helping to ease the digestive discomfort. Next time your feeling a little unsettled after a meal try a cup of peppermint, ginger, or fennel tea. Most restaurants with have at least one of these on hand.
Food isn’t the only reason our tummy’s can get upset while away. Sometimes it’s a bacteria or other micro-organism that we’ve consumed that has sent us running to the bathroom. A great way to prevent this unpleasant situation is to ensure we have a strong line of defence built up in the digestive tract to take care of any unwanted guests. This is one of the many jobs that probiotics do for us. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that we should have in abundance in our intestines. We can support healthy populations of probiotics by consuming fermented foods daily. This would include things like: sauerkraut, miso soup, kambucha, plain yogurt, and fermented pickles. Consuming these foods on a regular basis for a couple of weeks leading up to your travel time will help build up your probiotic defences.
You can also pack along a good travel probiotic supplement to take while you’re away. There are many great brands on the market now. Make sure it specifically says it’s for travel, as these probiotics are specially formulated to not need refrigeration.
Lastly one of the other main tummy troubles people encounter when travelling is not that their bowels are moving too much, but in fact they aren’t moving at all. Being in a new environment, having a busy schedule and a change in eating habits can lead to the bowels becoming sluggish, which will leave you feeling sluggish and uncomfortable. There are many ways we can ensure our system keeps moving easily while we’re away.
For starters the previously mentioned tip about starting your day with hot water and lemon is great support for this issue as well. You also want to ensure you continue to keep hydrated through out the day. This can take some conscious effort since we are usually preoccupied with sight-seeing and new experiences while travelling. Having a reusable water bottle that you can carry with you is a great idea. Refill whenever it’s empty and definitely make sure it’s full before getting on an airplane as they are great at sucking away our water and leaving our cells feeling prune-ish.
Being in a new living space and using an unfamiliar bathroom can cause our bowels to become shy as well. Getting your body moving and active will help to keep your bowels active. Taking a morning walk is great support. The action of walking massages our intestines and helps to move stool through. If you aren’t able to make it out for a walk, take 5 minutes to do some slow deep abdominal breathing in the morning. The movement of your diaphragm will massage the digestive organs.
Even if you don’t have time to plan much before you head out for your next adventure there are many things you can do while traveling to keep your tummy happy, so keep these simple, yet effect tips in the back of your mind and enjoy your next get-away!
Written by Dr. Jennifer Kaster ND