Many of us have plans to get away over the next couple of months, whether at home or away. But for those with sensitive digestion, being out of a regular routine while on holidays can cause digestive havoc. Read on for some tips on relaxing the routine while away without wreaking havoc on digestion.
What causes bloating?
Bloating is often caused by bacteria in our gut fermenting our food and producing gas. This gas can take up lots of space and irritate gut nerve endings causing discomfort and pain. While a healthy microbiome does include lots of bacteria, we need to have the right balance to keep our gut working well.
Gut health is incredibly complex and lots of factors can disrupt this delicate balance. These include stress, hormones, certain medication and of course what we eat and drink. When away, many of us are out of our regular routine and might be eating different food or consuming more alcohol than we would at home, which can upset our digestion. So what can we do?
Keep an eye on obvious triggers
These will differ from person to person, but common triggers include too much alcohol, sugar or starchy carbs like bread and pizza and too much dairy, for those who are sensitive to it. These foods can cause a lot of bloating, especially if you are not used to eating them in larger quantities. If you do have sensitive digestion, then try to limit the foods that you know are a problem for you. Instead of having a full pizza, share one. Or have a glass of water between every glass of wine. And if you do get a flare up, then pull back and have a very simple diet for a day or two until things calm down.
Think about how you eat
It’s not just what we eat that changes when we are away, it’s also how we eat. When away we tend to eat out more and this can mean that we are eating bigger portions than we are used to at home – step away from the buffet!! We can also find ourselves eating later at night and this can lead to not only bloating but also heart burn. Advice is to watch your portion size, especially if you are feeling bloated. And if getting heart burn, try to have a smaller meal in the evening and limit the amount of liquid you drink with your evening meal. Staying upright for a couple of hours after eating can also help.
Keep things moving when on the move….
It’s not a very sexy topic, but being constipated can be a cause of bloating. When away and especially when travelling, many of us are out of normal routine, eating at different times and with less opportunity to use a bathroom comfortably. It’s also easy to forget to drink enough water and this is not just an issue when travelling but also when on holidays, especially somewhere hot and one of the main reasons why children can become bunged up too. To keeps things on track, make sure you have plenty of fibre the days before travelling (healthy smoothies, salads, soups, wholegrains, fruit….), stay away from fizzy drinks the day you are travelling, drink plenty of water and try to get up and move around if travelling for a longer time.
When away, try these three tips to keep things moving
- keep your water intake topped up, especially if hot
- add 1 – 2 tbsp ground linseeds (also called flax seeds) to your breakfast in the morning, stirring them through yoghurt
- eat 2 kiwi per day, clinically proven to help with constipation
What to pack to support digestion
If you are prone to bloating or IBS symptoms, then packing two other things can also help
- Peppermint tea. Peppermint has been shown to help to relax the gut and reduce spasms associated with IBS and bloating. Try drinking peppermint tea after meals to ease symptoms. Peppermint tea bags are fine and really handy for travelling, but if you can get it, fresh mint is tastier and may be more effective.
- A probiotic supplement can also be helpful. In clinic we use many different probiotics, depending on the microbiome test results of patients. But for travelling, look for one that does not need to be refrigerated like the NHP Advanced Probiotic Support and start to take it a few days before you travel. And if you are travelling to somewhere more exotic, taking a type of probiotic called Saccharomyces boulardii can be very helpful in preventing and also in dealing with traveller’s diarrhoea. Start 1 per day a few days before travelling and increase to up to 4 per day if symptoms strike.
If you would like more information about the services we offer, including testing, please get in touch.