Keeping your gut healthy while traveling can feel like a struggle for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, bloating, or other digestive issues brought on by a gut imbalance. Indulging in the many different cuisines, switching time zones, and not sticking to one’s regular eating and lifestyle habits can lead to the flare-ups resulting in feelings of discomfort, lethargy, and frustration.
If you’re someone that has suffered from gut imbalances, you know how hard it can be to find the balance of enjoying your travels without throwing your health off track. Many of us are willing to go to great lengths to keep our guts healthy, but many of us also want to be able to travel with ease as well. Luckily, after years of traveling around the globe and maintaining the balance between healthy living and mindful indulgence, I put together some of my travel tips that can help you keep your gut healthy.
Editor’s Note: Laura Martin is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant and founder of Healing to Happy — an online nutrition program. Please consult your doctor before making changes to your sleep, diet, or exercise routine, or taking supplements.
1. Make sure you stay hydrated.
With constantly being on the go, it can be easy to forget about drinking enough water. But as we know, hydration is a key factor in keeping your body running in tip-top shape.
Water is a major driving force to help improve digestion and promote a healthy gut. Drinking water has the ability to move nutrients around the body, flush out toxins, and assist in waste removal, which are essential functions to keep any gut healthy. When traveling, it can be hard to remember to drink the same amount as you do at home but it’s necessary to ensure your gut is running smoothly, especially in warmer climates. When one is dehydrated, it often results in constipation and bloat.
To ensure you are driving enough water to your colon, aim for two to three liters of water a day. A way to help remember is to always have a large water bottle on hand. If you’re in warmer climates, you will want to double what you normally drink at home while also focusing on adding in electrolytes like fresh coconut water or pink Himalayan salt.
If you consume alcohol, make sure you are also upping your intake. Aim to have one to two glasses of water per drink and to have another glass before bedtime. Staying hydrated is a simple way to promote a healthy gut.
2. Get at least one plate of greens in every day.
Gut bacteria love to feast on fiber. Numerous studies have found that eating a plant-based diet rich in color helps to ensure that your gut bugs are well fed. There are two different kinds of fiber, insoluble and soluble, and a balance of both is needed to build a healthy microbiome. Consuming a plate of vegetables a day along with quality proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats will ensure a healthy gut during your travels.
When dining out, choose a vegetarian dish or add a salad to balance your meal. The best way to ensure you stay healthy while you travel is being mindful of your plant intake. If leafy greens aren’t accessible, bring a green powder to add to your water along with a fiber supplement like psyllium husk. You can also grab your own greens or fibrous veggies from the local market to have alongside restaurant indulgences.
3. Take digestive enzymes with every meal.
On those days that you’re enjoying delectable cuisines that your body isn’t used to, it needs a little more help, which is when digestive enzymes should be used. Digestive enzymes help your body break down carbs, proteins, and fats, and utilize them as needed to help ease the bloat and relieve digestive issues. These are the saving grace of any traveler with a sensitive gut. Getting a quality digestive enzyme and taking it with your meals helps take the added strain off by upping your gut’s bile production. My favorite is Enzymedica Digest Gold. You can also opt for a whole foods choice of papaya or pineapple if digestive enzymes aren’t in the budget.
4. Don’t forget to pack your probiotics.
Our digestive tract is made up of friendly bacteria called probiotics. These bacteria aid in keeping the digestive system running smoothly by helping digest food, destroying harmful pathogens, and producing vitamins we need to live a healthy and balanced life. While traveling, it’s important to make sure you’re healthy and that your immunity is high. Taking a probiotic helps to top up the existing good bacteria that are already found in the colon and promotes a balance between the good and the bad bacteria in our gut flora. Also opt for foods that are high in probiotics, like yogurt, which you’ll find at most breakfast bars.
5. Sleep just as you do at home with seven to eight hours.
The foundation of good health starts with getting quality sleep, especially while you travel. The body is designed for predictable cycles of sleep, wakefulness, and eating. Disrupting that rhythm negatively impacts the balance of the microbiome. Studies have found that just a few nights of restless sleep not only results in a day filled with exhaustion but it creates an imbalance within the gut.
To skip the feelings of needing a vacation from your vacation, aim to maintain seven to eight hours of quality rest a night. The ideal time for the body to rest and digest is 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM. To assist in achieving this, focus on limiting screen time before bed, keeping your room dark and cool, sticking with your bedtime hygiene routines, and keeping the environment calm during the evenings.
6. Focus on getting in your daily movement.
Regular exercise helps to improve the beneficial gut bacteria in your microbiome. A great way to ensure you keep your gut healthy while traveling is by getting your daily steps in. Hiking, walking along the beach, exploring the town on a morning jog — there are so many ways to stay active while on the move. Having a fitness routine also helps to ensure you’ll stay on track with your health goals throughout your trip.
7. If you’re traveling across time zones, try intermittent fasting.
Digestion is a hard task on the body, and pairing that with crossing different time zones can lead your body to be thrown under a lot of stress and can cause your system to back up. Intermittent fasting helps with this. It helps to increase energy, increase circulation, gives your detoxifying organs support, reduces oxidative stress, and stabilizes metabolism.
If you’re traveling at night, spend the day eating food that are easy to digest and then skip out on the airplane food. Once you land, have your next meal at the same time as the local dining time. This will help your microbes adjust, which will communicate with your brain to get on track with the new time zone.
The key to keeping your gut healthy while traveling is by planning ahead and being prepared. To have the greatest chance of avoiding a flare-up, make sure you’re sticking with your normal habits, getting in your fiber, and packing the essential supplements.