A Natural Guide to Gut Health on the Road
As if scoping out the best deals, planning a trip, and packing your life into a suitcase or backpack wasn't stressful enough, some of us have to deal with a whole heap of other things when it comes to life on the road - especially if we're going to be away from home for more than a couple of weeks.
Because, let's face it, traveling does all sorts of crazy things to your body.
Different water, unfamiliar climate, abnormal time zone, new routine, unusual foods. Add in dreadfully long flights, one too many fruity cocktails containing colorful little umbrellas, and far too many late nights in a beachfront bar packed with locals and it's no surprise that our health often suffers while traveling.
Throw on top of that a severe bout of IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and it's all too easy to convince yourself to stay perched on your couch at home eating the same meal each day, going through the same boring motions.
But for those of us with restless feet (and restless bellies!), this post hopes to make sure that you're able to explore the world comfortably, and perhaps even enjoy some of those local delicacies you've been eyeing, all while keeping your health your top priority.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Not drinking enough water can leave you feeling tired, grumpy, and make you a pretty frustrating person to be around.
It's not just your brain that thrives off of the suggested two litres of agua per day; give your gut the liquid nutrition it needs to help break down what's going into your body and to easily expel what needs to get out.
When you're dehydrated, your gut health suffers that much more so you really need to make sure you're drinking enough throughout the day, otherwise those four greasy but absolutely delicious tacos and the cerveza you downed post Mexican soccer game are going to haunt you for days to come.
While it’s quite common to find places that sell bottled water wherever you go in North America, this is often not the case in many other parts of the world. When you're on the go in a new destination it can prove to be difficult to drink enough especially in hot climates where water sources might be unreliable.
Access to clean drinking water for travelers is an essential part of going abroad - either find a trusted place where you can purchase bottled or sanitized water, or carry a SteriPEN with you to purify water from any questionable sources.
PACK THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS
When you’re at home it’s far easier to deal with unexpected health issues, whether that’s taking a day off to recover in bed, finding a solution in your home medicine cabinet, or making a quick trip to your family doctor.
On the road, life is so different. Just making a trip to a local pharmacy and trying to explain in a foreign language, which you haven’t really mastered, that you need the strongest anti-diarrhea medication possible, can be an enormous and overwhelming challenge.
That’s why I always make sure to pack the proper supplements whenever I travel, regardless of my luggage limitations.
If you’re like me and suffer from seemingly random IBS flare-ups, squeezing out a tiny bit of space in your carry-on for natural remedies for any gut issues is sensible. I’ve been trying to find the natural “wonder drug” for a long time, and have tried countless herbal remedies and pills without much success, some even doing more harm than good. However, in my search I did find one supplement that gave me exactly what I was looking for and I can honestly say it works - it’s called IBgard. I typically never discuss brands here on the blog, but this one has been a true lifesaver and has allowed me to enjoy my travels without worry, so I have no hesitation in recommending it here to you.
The ultra-refined peppermint oil capsules by IBgard provide a natural way to deal with and alleviate any IBS related symptoms, in a short amount of time. Not only do these capsules work quickly to relieve symptoms, but they also assist in normalizing digestion, allowing me to explore new places without worrying if there are bathroom facilities nearby. And the best part is after I take them I usually feel the calming effects (finally a normal flat belly and no rumbling tummy!) for a few days afterwards.
To be honest, I’m always a little skeptical when trying out new products, but what really sold me on IBgard was when I was able to go on an all-day hike with my family and I didn’t have to worry once about any emergency bathroom trips (never fun when you’re in the middle of nowhere) or had to carry around the heavy bloated feeling associated with IBS all day long.
I know taking supplements is no replacement for a healthy diet, but when there are limited options in a new or remote place, they have saved my belly on countless occasions.
After all, the side effects of street food, late nights, and new routines shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of enjoying your travels!
Get into a natural sleep pattern
Spending even an hour or two at 30,000 feet is really going to mess with your body’s internal sleep schedule. It’s no wonder that when you’re flying long-haul, staying up far later than usual, and sharing rooms with snoring roommates that your sleep habits end up all out of whack.
Not only is not getting enough regular sleep detrimental to your general health and happiness, but it also plays a huge part in your gut health. I’ve found that going to bed around the same time each night and waking up around the same time each morning has been incredibly beneficial to keeping my gut calm and relatively IBS symptom free.
To prepare for an upcoming trip, try to adjust to the local time zone before you depart by staggering the times when you go to sleep and wake about a week before you leave home. This will hopefully allow your body to gently adjust to a different wake and sleep schedule.
People were meant to move. Physical exercise is an essential part of keeping your gut healthy and happy, both at home and on the road, and getting enough exercise while traveling is actually much easier than you think.
If you’re going to be doing a lot of sightseeing, you’ll probably already be getting in thousands of steps per day, but you should also consider renting out a bicycle from your hotel/hostel or lacing up your running shoes to cover more ground.
Today, many accommodations, hostels in particular, offer their guests complimentary gym passes and access to organized group activities, which are great options for solo travelers looking to make some new friends.
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This post was produced in collaboration with IBgard, a company whose products deliver unparalleled treatment of IBS with the use and targeted delivery of natural peppermint oil. All opinions, as always, are my own.