Plastic wrapped meals and dry airplane croissants may be convenient but they’re not so gut friendly. In reality, travel means a rapid change in diet. Our usual routine stops and some may not touch anything green for days, which can negatively affect digestion.
While bloating, heartburn and irregular bowel movements may not sound so glamorous regulating your digestion can really make or break a trip!
Here are 5 ways to keep your gut happy and healthy while travelling...
1. Don’t forget high quality snacks
Early morning flights and broken sleep on a plane can leave us feeling groggy and craving quick fix foods. In fact, research has shown that when we have less than 7-8 hours sleep our appetite hormone increases, and we’re more likely to consume 330 more calories made up of quick fix foods. 1
Often these quick-fix snacks can wreak havoc with digestion. Instead, pack a few high fibre options to keep digestion healthy and hunger at bay; try nuts, fruit or even PRESS' energy bars for a healthier sweet fix.
2. Bring your own fibre
On average, the UK population are only consuming half their recommended daily fibre intake. Whilst abroad this figure may drop even further! Fibre is essential for healthy digestion and preventing constipation.
Chia seeds can be a fast-track way of increasing intake; just 2 tbsp provides 11g of fibre. These little seeds can be easily packed into a suitcase and can be consumed as a snack or sprinkled over your breakfast.
Alternatively try Renew Life Fibresmart capsules containing marshmallow root and flaxseed, a gentle combo for the digestive tract.
3. Consider taking probiotics
It’s not only the lack of fibre which can be bothersome to digestion, depending on the country, travellers diarrhoea may affect as many as 5-50% and can put a huge damper on any trip.
Interestingly there is more and more research to suggest that taking probiotics during the trip may be a safe and effective preventative tool 2.
4. Choose herbal teas
Bloating and cramps are not uncommon with air travel. In fact, gas in the intestinal will expand at around 30% when flying due to the air pressure.
To prevent the bloat, pre-flying it’s advisable to pass on the carbonated drinks and gassy foods like broccoli, beans and onions.
Try switching your usual airplane coffee with peppermint tea. Animal studies have demonstrated peppermint to have a relaxing and soothing effect on the gut, whilst human studies have looked at peppermint leaf in relation to managing IBS 3.
5. Keep moving
Whilst lying on the beach for weeks is seriously appealing, a lack of movement can cause our digestion to become sluggish.
Research suggests that moderate exercise has positive effects on those suffering from digestive complaints 4, and may stimulate gut motility. Skip the taxi, bring your trainers and go explore! You’ll reach your 10, 000 steps whilst saving money and taking in the sites.
- Spiegel, K., Tasali, E., Penev, P. & Cauter, E. V. (2004). Brief Communication: Sleep Curtailment in Healthy Young Men Is Associated with Decreased Leptin Levels, Elevated Ghrelin Levels, and Increased Hunger and Appetite. Annals of Internal Medicine, 141 (11), 846.
- McFarland, L. V. (2006). Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of traveler's diarrhea. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, 5 (2), 97-105.
- McKay, D. and Blumberg, J. (2006). A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytotherapy Research, 20 (8), pp.619-633.
- Grundmann, O. (2014). Complementary and alternative medicines in irritable bowel syndrome: An integrative view. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 20 (2), p.346-62.
By Lily Soutter, Nutritionist BSc (hons), Dip ION