If you’re embarking on a pilgrimage to claim your well-deserved slice of the European summer within the next month or two, you’ll no doubt be looking forward to the food, the culture and long days spent exploring new cities or soaking up the sun. What you’re probably looking forward to slightly less however, is the strop your gut is likely to throw thanks to air travel (aka, sitting down for so long and your intestines doing that super-fun thing where they expand as cabin pressure drops), crossing time zones and eating all sorts of new and different foods.
Well, fret not, girl! We caught up with nutritionist Jess Blair from Wellness By Blair for her top tips on maintaining gut-health whilst flying and travelling. So if you’re prone to an upset gut or things getting a little, erm, clogged-up when you go overseas, these travel-inspired gut-health hacks straight from a nutritionist’s mouth are definitely for you:
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we mean with good old fashioned h2o, not with complimentary alcohol. Bring your own drink bottle on the plane and make sure you’re refilling throughout the flight. Good digestion can’t occur without enough water, and opting for regular water as opposed to sparkling water or anything carbonated will keep discomfort at bay.
2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol while flying
As tempting as it is to have a glass of preflight champagne or latte, it’s best to avoid all caffeine and alcohol until you’re at your destination. Alcohol and caffeine can cause disruption of the gut flora, which can cause unpleasant bloating and pain, especially while flying.
3. Pack healthy snacks
It’s always wise to pack your own healthy snacks for the flight, so you can avoid foods that might cause you bloating. Jess always suggests travelling with a little snack box of nuts, nut bars or some simple crackers.
Pack your probiotics for your trip away. They’re chock-full of good bacteria and are needed for a healthy digestive system, while also warding off bad bugs. Make sure you grab a good probiotic that doesn’t need to be refrigerated so it’s easy to take with you wherever you go.
5. Get up and move
Walking around the plane every hour or so isn’t just great for circulation, it’s also good for your digestion. Drinking lots of water will mean lots of toilet breaks, so it’s a win-win!
Tips for when you reach your destination:
6. Bitters, bitters and more bitters
Add bitters to your meals where possible—these are leafy greens which help stimulate digestion and secretions of the liver and pancreas. This means our food can be digested properly, and not sit in the stomach causing pain and bloating.
7. Probiotics (again)
If your gut has gone the other way and you have an upset stomach, make sure you have a probiotic that contains the strain of Saccharomycesboulardii.This strain can help with travellers’ diarrhoea—again showing that probiotics while travelling are a complete non-negotiable.
An oldie but a goodie, start your travel days like you do at home by adding lemon into your cup of warm water to kick off the day. This helps digestive juices and HCL (hydrochloric acid) in the stomach, which reinforces your body’s first line of defence against pathogens and bugs. It also helps with the proper digestion of food, and kills bad bacteria while it’s at it.
9. Pack some peppermint or ginger tea
Peppermint tea boasts properties that are natural relaxants, whilst also having anti-spasmodic properties that can alleviate spasms in the gastrointestinal tract, bile duct and even the gallbladder. Adding peppermint tea during times of upset gut-health can help immensely.
Ginger tea is great for digestion and nausea as it’s got high levels of vitamin C and magnesium. Adding to some hot water, either fresh or in tea form whilst travelling is a lifesaver in the case of sudden stomach disturbances.
10. Prepping and de-stressing are key
Ultimately, the best way to avoid any unnecessary gut disturbances is by having optimal gut health prior to your holiday. Eliminating processed foods, caffeine, alcohol and adding in pre and probiotic foods will set you up for a trip of fun-filled memories, and a happy, healthy gut.
Stress can also play a big part, so before you embark on your trip, make sure you are getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and exercising to keep your stress levels in check.