How to Support Your Gut Health When Travelling This Summer
Travel is such a wonderful part of life.
Experiencing new cultures, taking in new sites, soaking up the sun and of course, trying out new foods. However, one of downsides of travel is the (almost) inevitable gut symptoms that arise thanks to changes in routine, time zones, air travel, and new exotic foods.
So how can we stay balanced and still enjoy ourselves? Read on for 5 easy ways to support your gut health whilst travelling abroad.
BE PICKY WITH SUGAR
When we pack our diet with processed foods and added sugars, it can decrease the number and diversity of beneficial bacteria in the gut – and fast. Studies have shown that our microbial composition can change within as little as 3 days of big dietary changes. Whilst the occasional indulgent dessert is ok - and even necessary – mindless consumption of not-so-worth-it sugar is a common habit of holidays. Try opting for whole food options like local fresh fruit when the sweet craving kicks in. Local, seasonal fruit will be naturally sweeter and more nutritious than when they've travelled across the globe to get to your local supermarket.
KEEP YOUR FIBRE UP
Fibre passes through the digestive system, which not only feeds the good bacteria in our microbiome, but also adds bulk to stool to help keep bowel movements regular. These bacteria ferment prebiotic fibre to produce short-chain fatty acids, which play a role in reducing inflammation, weight, mood and even immune system function, so keeping fibre up on holiday is a holiday must. Try adding in fibre-rich side dishes like broccoli, artichokes, cruciferous and other local vegetables.
IT'S ALL ABOUT IMPACT
Impact exercise is one of the best things to keep your digestive system running smoothly. This can include anything from exploring your destination on foot, getting outside to run or a quick morning HIIT. It’s not just digestion that will benefit – maintaining some sort of exercise routine whilst away will help with circulation, lymphatic drainage, appetite regulation and mood. One of our favourite holiday exercise hacks is skipping – skipping ropes are inexpensive and give you an incredible (gut boosting) workout, even from the comfort of your hotel room.
STAY ON TOP OF HYDRATION
Hydration is incredibly important for gut health, especially when flying (or drinking too much). Optimal hydration will help with bowel regularity, and energy, but is also an essential factor in managing cravings. Studies have shown that when we’re dehydrated, our ability to metabolise glycogen – a form of stored energy – is impaired. This leads to fluctuations in blood sugar and subsequently, we tend to crave sweets for a quick boost in energy. Using electrolytes on holiday can be a lifesaver, especially if you’re in a hot environment and/or drinking more than usual. We use Cellular Hydration as a vacation staple, but you can also help boost electrolytes naturally by starting your day with water, lemon and a pinch of sea salt. You’ll still need to seek out magnesium and potassium, so look for foods like leafy greens, legumes, banana, almonds and grapefruit.
NAIL YOUR PRE-FLIGHT ROUTINE
Feeling good as you step onto the plane can make or break your first few days, so try to make a healthy pre-flight routine before your holiday non-negotiable.
- Sweat it out: aim for a longer, steady state cardio session, which can help reduce cravings and appetite, a welcome side effect before a long flight
- Balance your blood sugar: before a flight, reach for a meal that’s high protein, loaded with fibre, and full of good fats to combat blood sugar fluctuations.
- Take your own snacks: there’s something about travelling that makes you want to eat all day, so packing a few high fibre-high protein snacks can be a lifesaver if you’re trying to avoid the junk food served on planes. If you’re flying long-haul, we also recommend selecting a special meal; whilst it still won’t be perfect, most airlines will have options for diabetic meals, which are low in sugar, or other options like gluten free and dairy free.
- Support the gut: G.I. Fix before a flight can help keep your bowel moving because of the prokinetic properties of ginger and triphala.
- For the long-haul flight: Sleep Tonic is our go-to for long haul support. Lack of sleep can slow down the bowel, spike cortisol and wreak havoc on our appetite, so getting a handle on jet lag as soon as possible can help you look and feel your best on holiday.