Planning a trip to some weird and wonderful, exotic location? Whether you’re trekking through the Peruvian Amazon or lazing by a pool in Bali, it is important to protect yourself whilst seeing our marvellous world. Though it is marvellous most of the time, travelling the globe can have its cons, big ones. Heard of Delhi Belly or Traveller’s Diarrhoea? These are spread by nasty little critters (predominantly E.coli) that are transmitted via contaminated food and water, as well as through person to person contact.
In my view, prevention is always better than cure, so let’s aim to do just that…prevent the onset of traveller’s diarrhoea altogether. If we can build your health to optimum levels prior to departure date, then you’ll be laughing all the way to that lovely little sea-side village, instead of clenching & sweating on that bus through the Vietnamese countryside.
So, a few months before any trip abroad, I like to plan my method of attack. Because you never know what’s lurking behind enemy lines.
Probiotics are a 100% must. No if’s or but’s! They work to promote immunity in the gut by eradicating “bad bacteria” and establishing colonies of “good bacteria”. These delightful microbacteria are vital to our everyday health . They keep our digestive/immune system functioning well, assist with carbohydrate/fat metabolism and promote the synthesis of vitamins. Take them before, during and after your trip to prevent an overgrowth of bad bacteria. Most probiotics require refrigeration, however, Saccharomyces boulardii is a heat stable yeast strain which is perfect for travelling.
Focus on a clean and healthy diet always, especially before your travels. Dietary Fibre found in fruits and vegetables are particularly important because they help to feed the probiotics in the gut, known as prebiotics. Remember to eat plenty of probiotic food too, like natural yoghurt. Fermented foods like miso, tofu, tempeh, sauerkraut and kombucha are also great probiotic foods.
A good quality vitamin C supplement or other mixed antioxidant supplement is necessary too. These will also keep your immune system fighting fit and promote cellular repair (as do other antioxidants such as vitamin E, Zinc, Selenium, Glutathione). It is important however, to check dosages with your healthcare provider, too much of a good thing is not advisable. Also, please visit your travel doctor before your trip for any advice or medication you might require.
Clearly, the focus here is to support your immune system so it can successfully combat evil invaders. It’s a war zone in there people, and your body has a vast army of noble troops fighting constantly to prevent an ambush by opposing soldiers. At times, the enemy will invade, but your body will do whatever it takes to fight for you, it is constantly fighting for your survival. How fantastic is that!? You still need to do your bit though, it’s not all peachy cocktails and deep-fried snacks!
Obviously, common sense is required when it comes to drinking water, choice of food/restaurants and hand-washing, so I’ll leave that to your good judgement.
If you do get sick abroad, be sure to drink plenty of clean water and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. The sight of food may very well have you running to the bathroom, so keep it simple. Salty broths with veggies will help to replenish nutrient losses. Avoid wheat, dairy and sweets. Disease-causing bacteria love the stuff! We want to kill them, not feed them.
Supportive immune system therapy and feeding the gut with probiotics, I believe, is the best way to go if you’re concerned with getting sick overseas. There’s nothing worse than nursing a high fever and clenching a queasy belly when you should be savouring all of the brilliant sights (& food!) the world has to offer.
These supplements, when prescribed by your healthcare practitioner, may help to prevent traveller’s diarrhoea or other common ailments. They may also help you bounce back from illness overseas quicker than you can say…Salmonella!