Why your gut lets you down on vacation

Picture this: you just won the employee of the month and the prize is a ticket to your dream city. You thoroughly plan your journey by crossing all the t’s and dotting all the I’s. But alas, you have probably had a literal gut-wrenching while traveling before so you are scared your gut will betray you this time as well.

Vacationing should be a time to let your hair down, meet new people, and try local food. Instead, you are stuck in your hotel room with a gastrointestinal issue. Whether you are going on a vacation to have a me-time or for fun with your family and friends, experiencing a stomach issue is a downer. If this is becoming a repeated occurrence then you need to learn the causes and what to do to have a healthy gut on a vacation.

Why do you have Stomach issues while traveling?

·         Diet Change

The food you eat in your new environment when you travel might be completely different from the one you are used to eating at home. You might also find yourself consuming more junk on the road than your gut is accustomed to. With a new time zone comes a new mealtime that is different from what you are used to. This change in routine will give you digestive issues. In addition, munching on snacks, eating undercooked food, and consuming processed food can also affect your stomach negatively.

·         Overeating

It makes perfect sense to want to taste the famed Adobo in the Philippines regardless of whether you get the pronunciation right. How will you go to Bhutan without eating Ema Datshi even if you can’t handle spicy food? The point is, you will be tempted to try different local food and drinks when you are on holiday and you end up indulging. Overeating will not only make you feel bloated, but it is also one of the main causes of heartburn and diarrhea. Also, instead of enjoying your perfectly planned vacation, overindulging in food and drinks may turn you into a regular loo visitor.

·         Dehydration

A plane ride can make you thirstier than usual. Drink water. Traveling to a hot climate can also increase the amount of regular fluid your body needs. Have a water bottle at hand and sip constantly. Although it might increase the number of times you urinate but that is a whole lot better than constipation. Apart from the obvious difficulty in emptying the content of your bowel and hard stool, chronic dehydration has long-term consequences on your kidney.

·         Bacterial Infection

Eating food prepared in an unhygienic environment is an invitation to food poisoning unless your guts have adapted to it. You should know not all street food or water can be consumed. This is especially true if you don’t know the source of the food or drink. Bacteria and parasites feast on your digestive system and lead to debilitating health issues. Apart from food from the roadside, you can carry germs in your hands or in the utensils you eat with. Ice cubes can also contain viruses and mold if made with impure water.

·         Change in Schedule or Routine

Constipation, bloating, heartburn, and abdominal pain are the manifestation of the stress you go through on your journey. This might be due to the changes in your schedule. The difference in the time you sleep and wake up as well as the number of activities you do can reflect in your digestive system. Gastrointestinal issues can occur when you sleep less or go on a long journey.

How does your gut let you down?

The three major symptoms to know you have an unhealthy gut on a vacation are;

1. Traveler’s diarrhea

This is the most common way a grumpy gut manifests when you are on a vacation. When you have traveler’s diarrhea, you might experience constant loose stools, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. Food and water contaminated by bacterial parasites, fecal matter, and viruses are usually the main causes of this gastrointestinal disease. However, eating with dirty hands or using utensils that are not properly washed can also lead to traveler’s diarrhea.  

2. Irregular Excretion

If you have been on vacation for a week and you haven’t done the number 2 once, then something is wrong with your digestive tract. Change in time zone, diet and stress can make you toilet-shy. Also, the lack of enough water in your system can cause constipation and hard stooling. Some people purposely defer going to the toilet on the plane until they land because of where they are sitting. Know that regularly emptying the content of your stomach will keep your system healthy.

3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

You might have developed IBS even before you start your vacation but the stress of traveling can set it off. Experts suggest that you know the symptoms of your IBS as part of your planning process. Some of the common symptoms include; diarrhea, excessive gas, constipation, stomach cramps, and bloating. IBS can also make you feel tired and sick, so it takes the fun out of vacation.

How to ensure your gut does not betray you

Rather than avoiding traveling completely, do the following to ensure a healthy gut all through your vacation time.

·         Drink lots of water and stay away from beverages

·         Avoid street food if possible

·         Exercise and Meditate- if you can’t do a vigorous exercise, a simple walk will do. Also, yoga and deep breathing can help you relax when you are stressed.

·         Eat food rich in fiber but avoid eating too many snacks

·         Try to eat in moderation

·         Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap or use hand sanitizers

·         Take some laxatives or antibiotics with you in case of emergency when you are traveling.

Final Words

Now nothing can stop you from enjoying your well-deserved vacation. You have worked hard, go play harder. Remember to also get some regular sleep to revitalize your body.

Your digestive system might experience some pressure due to stress and all the factors involved in traveling. However, if you are intentional about keeping your gut healthy, then vacationing should be one of the most enjoyable things you do in life. 

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.