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14 travel tactics to avoid ‘jet set’ gut issues 

14 travel tactics to avoid 'jet set' gut issues  MAIN

Don’t let gut issues hijack your holiday. Try these 14 diet travel tactics and arrive feeling energised and refreshed – recommended by a nutritionist

The last thing you want on holiday is a dodgy tummy. 

‘Gastro-intestinal problems can be caused for a variety of reasons, including food poisoning, contaminated water and poor hygiene,’ says Rob Hobson, Registered Nutritionist at wellbeing brand Healthspan.

‘Typical symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and weakness.  If you want to maintain a healthy gut while travelling, it helps to prepare and plan before you set off on holiday.’

Common Reasons Things Go Wrong 

‘There are many reasons why your gut health may be affected by travel overseas,’ says Rob.

These include… 

Dietary Changes. Travel often means you’re eating different foods, including new flavours and styles of cooking, to your usual diet which can upset your digestive system. You may also be eating more unprocessed foods, which are high in sugars, fats, and additives and this can take a toll on your gut.   

Travel exposes you to new bacteria and viruses not normally found in your home environment. 

Dehydration can be a problem, especially in hot climates, and on long flights. If you’re not drinking enough fluids, this can leave you dehydrated which can lead to constipation.  

Jet lag and lack of sleep can disrupt your internal body clock system (controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus, SCN, situated in the brain) that governs circadian rhythms.

Chronic stress causes constant digestive slowdown, which disrupts the levels of friendly bacteria in the gut

The body clock regulates sleep, hunger, digestion, and other metabolic cycles. It mainly gets its cues from natural light, but it is also affected by changes in routine, temperature, and diet. When your circadian rhythms are out of sync, this can affect your digestion and lead to gut issues. 

Stress and anxiety can affect your gut in many ways.  When the body is under stress, blood is diverted from the digestive system to the muscles.  This causes a dramatic slowdown of the digestive system. 

Chronic stress causes constant digestive slowdown, which disrupts the levels of friendly bacteria in the gut and leads to all sorts of digestive health problems as a result. This can also trigger symptoms if you already have existing gut issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).   

Lack of physical activity and sitting for long periods of time may affect you gut motility and lead to constipation.  

Alcohol. When you go on holiday, this often means you’re drinking more which can lead to digestive issues. 

READ MORE: IBS or SIBO symptoms? How to tell these common gut issues apart


14 Gut friendly travel tactics 

So, what can you do to prepare your gut for holiday travel? Rob offers the following advice…

#1 Adjust your diet before you travel 

Switching to new foods while you’re on holiday can be a shock to system. So, it’s a good idea to give your body some time to adjust by eating the type of food to match your holiday destination.

Increase your fibre intake to support good digestion by eating plenty of plant foods like legumes, vegetables, and whole grains.  

#2 Take prebiotics before you travel and while you’re there

Prebiotics encourage beneficial bacteria in your gut to thrive. These beneficial bacteria can help to balance your gut microbiota which may be affected by travel related stress that can lead to discomfort, bloating and diarrhoea.

Prebiotics encourage beneficial bacteria in your gut to thrive

Good prebiotic food choices include chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, bananas, garlic, leeks, onion, dandelion greens, oats, apples, burdock, and flaxseed. 

#3 Take a daily probiotic supplement 

Look for strains such as lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG), lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus casei and bifidobacterium bifidum. You can also eat plenty of probiotic foods in the run-up to your holiday and during your trip, such as kefir, fermented vegetables, and live yoghurt.

 Try: Healthspan Triple Action Biotic, £24.99 for 60 capsules. 

#4 Keep well hydrated 

Make sure you always carry water with you, especially when it’s hot.  You can keep hydrated with soft drinks, salad, herbal teas, soups (try gazpacho) and thirst-quenching fruits such as watermelon, oranges, and grapes.

Try and stick to bottled water, if the local water is causing you gut issues such as constipation or diarrhoea.  

READ MORE: Where to travel in 2024 according to your star sign 


#5 Avoid trigger foods 

If you know certain foods – e.g: wheat, gluten, dairy – cause you digestive problems, avoid them in the days leading up to your travel.  

#6 Opt for gut friendly snacks 

Pack some gut-friendly snacks in your bag for the journey – e.g.:  nuts, fruits, plain popcorn, and whole-grain products. These can help you avoid the temptation of less healthy airport snacks or fast foods and keep your gut health on track.  

#7 Mindful Eating 

A holiday is a great opportunity to practice mindful, or conscious eating.  This means being fully attentive to what you eat, your feelings, your hunger levels and when you feel full. 

A holiday is a great opportunity to practice mindful, or conscious eating

It’s very easy to overeat and drink too much while on holiday. But, by adopting a more conscious approach to eating, this will help to enhance your natural digestive rhythm and prevent stress on the gut.  

#8 Try Natural Remedies 

Natural remedies can be useful to ease symptoms while you’re away. So, make sure you pack a natural first aid kit that includes some of the following: 

Activated charcoal to help to alleviate for bloating and excess gas – Try: Healthspan Activated Charcoal, 90 capsules £10.99.  

Fresh Mint tea aids digestion and eases bloating. You’ll find fresh mint tea is a popular drink in Turkey and Mediterranean countries. 

Silicol®gel is an oral gel containing colloidal silicic acid coats and coats the stomach with a protective gel layer. Ideal for the treatment of stomach pain, abdominal discomfort, nausea, flatulence, reflux, and heartburn – Try: Silicolgel Sachet 12 X 15 ml via  

Slippery Elm can help to alleviate heartburn and mild stomach discomfort – Try: Indigo Herbs Slipper Elm Bark Powder, £12.45 for 50g – 

READ MORE: 5 reasons you need to start drinking herbal tea


#9 Top Up On Digestive Enzymes 

Different enzymes break down different foods. For example, amylase in saliva in the mouth, breaks down carbohydrates, protease, in the stomach, breaks down protein, and lipase, found in pancreatic and intestinal juices, breaks down fats. 

The body produces twenty-two different digestive enzymes. Enzymes are also found in certain foods.  When there is enzyme deficiency, or activity is impaired, this affects digestion.  For example, when you’re stressed enzymes are used up more quickly. 

To enhance enzymes, eat foods that stimulate the secretion of enzymes – eg: apple cider vinegar, bitter greens (e.g.: chicory, endive), green vegetables (e.g.: kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, rocket), lemon juice, rhubarb, dandelion leaves, fresh turmeric root and fenugreek. 

when you’re stressed enzymes are used up more quickly

Also, drink fresh vegetable juice, snack on vegetable sticks and eat raw salads.  

Lastly, take digestive enzyme supplements. Try: Healthspan Digestive Enzymes, 60 capsules, £15.49 – contains a blend of digestive enzymes, including amylase, bromelain, lactase, lipase, and protease to aid digestion. 

#10 Keep Active 

Physical activity can help keep your digestive system running smoothly. Even during travel, try to move regularly—stretch, walk around the airport, or do some light exercises in your hotel room. Sitting down for long periods of time can encourage constipation.   

#11 Counteract the Effects of Jet Lag 

If you’re crossing time zones, your digestive system might also feel the shift. Try to gradually adjust your meal and sleep times to the new time zone a few days before you leave to lessen the impact of jet lag.  

#12 Choose your foods wisely 

If you’re travelling to places that are a bit off the beaten track, or where you’re not 100% about hygiene levels, only foods that are cooked and served hot.  Avoid food that has been sitting on a buffet.  You may also want to choose plant-based options over meat and fish. 

#13 Wash your hands frequently  

Always wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially after using the bathroom and before eating.  Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitiser as a backup. 

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