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  • Writer's pictureDr. Dooreck with Zoeya Gordon

Holiday Travel and Your Gut: Tips for a Smooth Journey

Updated: Dec 30, 2023


Healthy foods help your gut diversity, health, microbiome, gastrointestinal gi system for you and the gastroenterology doctor

As the holiday season approaches, many look forward to those long-awaited vacations and trips to visit their loved ones. However, holiday travel can disrupt our digestive system and lead to unpleasant gastrointestinal (GI) issues. Taking care of our gut during this festive season is essential to ensure a smooth and healthy journey. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to maintaining optimal gut health while traveling during the holidays.


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Here are some steps you can take to take control of your condition and start managing your symptoms:


1. Plan Ahead


Before embarking on your holiday trip, planning your meals and snacks wisely is important. Carry nutritious foods that are easily digestible and won't upset your stomach. Consider packing fresh fruits and cut vegetables, nuts, or granola bars as healthy on-the-go options. Avoid greasy and heavy foods that can weigh you down and cause discomfort during travel time.


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2. Hydration is Key


Staying hydrated is crucial for good digestion, especially when you're on the move. Ensure you drink plenty of water and avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic or sugary beverages, which can dehydrate you. Portable water bottles and hydration packs are great travel companions to keep you refreshed and support your gut health.


3. Maintain Regular Meal Times


While it's easy to get off track with your meal routine during your holiday travels, try your best to maintain regular eating times. Irregular meal patterns can disrupt your digestive system and contribute to issues like indigestion or acid reflux. If your travel schedule derails your usual eating times, opt for smaller, lighter meals throughout the day rather than overeating in a single sitting.


Irregular meal patterns can disrupt your digestive system and contribute to issues like indigestion or acid reflux.

4. Prioritize Probiotic Foods


Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy gut ecosystem. Incorporate probiotic-rich foods into your diet to support good digestion while traveling. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are excellent sources of natural probiotics that can help maintain the balance of gut bacteria and prevent digestive discomfort. If you can't find these options while on the road, consider taking a supplement to ensure sufficient probiotic intake.


5. Minimize Stress


Holiday travel can be stressful, and stress directly impacts our digestive health. To reduce stress, practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or meditation. Engage in activities that bring you joy and help you unwind, whether listening to calming music, reading a book, or enjoying a long walk. Lowering your stress levels will benefit your gut and enhance your overall well-being.


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6. Exercise Regularly


Physical activity is essential for healthy digestion, even during the holiday season. Engaging in exercise while traveling can be challenging, but incorporating light workouts like stretching, yoga, or short walks can help stimulate your digestive system. If possible, find opportunities to explore and engage in outdoor activities during your trip.


7. Be Mindful of Traveler's Diarrhea

Traveler's diarrhea is a common issue when visiting unfamiliar destinations. To reduce the risk, stick to bottled water, avoid uncooked foods, and be cautious about street vendors. Consider packing over-the-counter medications, such as anti-diarrheal or rehydration tablets, in emergencies.


Below is an informational video series from Michigan Medicine on Foods to Support Gut Health.




Fun Facts - Holiday Edition!


1. Did you know that the average person's digestive system contains about 3 pounds of bacteria? These beneficial bacteria are crucial in maintaining gut health, especially during holiday travels.


2. Stress and anxiety can impact the balance of gut bacteria. So, taking care of your mental well-being while traveling is important, as it can directly affect your gut health.


3. In a survey conducted by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, it was found that nearly 60% of people experience increased digestive disruptions when traveling during the holidays. That's more than half of the travelers!


4. Sitting for long periods during travel can slow down digestion and cause constipation. So, try to take short walks or stretch your legs during layovers or breaks to keep your digestive system in motion.


5. Did you know that high altitudes during air travel can increase bloating and gas in some individuals? This is due to the decreased air pressure, causing gas inside your body to expand.


6. The holiday festivities often involve indulging in rich, fatty foods. Unfortunately, these foods can slow down digestion and contribute to heartburn. Thus, choosing lighter, healthier options is a good idea to keep your gut happy during the holiday season.


7. Planning to enjoy some local cuisine during your holiday trip? It's worth noting that changes in water quality and food preparation practices can increase the risk of traveler's diarrhea. Being cautious and maintaining good hygiene practices can help avoid this unpleasant experience.


8. Stressing about missed flights or delayed baggage during holiday travel can increase cortisol levels in the body. These stress hormones can impede normal digestion and even trigger flare-ups of existing digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


9. One interesting fact is that ginger, often found in gingerbread cookies and ginger ale, has natural anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe an upset stomach. So, sipping ginger tea or munching ginger snacks can be a delicious and helpful way to combat digestive discomfort during travel.


10. Lastly, laughter is good for the soul and the gut! Having a good laugh can boost digestion by stimulating the muscles in your digestive system. So, make sure to enjoy some laughter-filled moments during the holidays.


Summary


Maintaining optimal gut health while traveling during the holiday season is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable journey. By planning, staying hydrated, consuming probiotic-rich foods, managing stress levels, incorporating exercise, and being mindful of potential digestive issues, you can ensure a comfortable and pleasant travel experience. Remember, taking care of your gut during the holiday season will allow you to embrace the joy and celebrations without any digestive disruptions.


Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthily. 🌱 🌾 🌿


Personally


I eat a high-fiber, mostly plant-based 🌱 diet, no red meat, drink 4 liters of water a day, exercise, and am focused on keeping nutrition simple. I am sharing what works for me and what I routinely recommend to my patients.


"Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthy. 🌱 🌾 🌿"

Gut Health ➕ Patient Advocacy with Navigation ➕ Life Balance


If you were looking for information about Private Healthcare Navigation and Patient Advocacy from Executive Health Navigation


Connect with Dr. Dooreck on LinkedIn, where he focuses his sharing on Health, Diet, Nutrition, Exercise, Lifestyle, and Balance.


 

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