Plastic wrapped meals and dry airplane croissants may be convenient but they’re not so gut friendly. In reality, travel means a rapid change in diet. Our usual routine stops and some may not touch anything green for days, which ultimately impacts digestion.
While bloating, heartburn and irregular bowel movements may not sound so glamorous, regulating digestion can really make or break a trip!
Here are 5 simple ways to keep our gut happy and healthy whilst on the move…
1. Don’t forget high-quality snacks
Early morning flights and broken sleep on a plane can leave us feeling groggy and craving quick fix foods. In fact, research has shown that when we have less than 7-8 hours sleep our appetite hormone increases, and we’re more likely to consume 330 more calories made up of quick fix foods 1.
Often these quick-fix foods can wreak havoc with digestion. Instead pack a few high fibre options to keep digestion healthy and hunger at bay, try nuts, fruit or even PRESS London energy bars for a healthier sweet fix.
2. Bring your own fibre
On average, the UK population are only consuming half their recommended daily fibre intake. Whilst abroad this figure may drop even further! Fibre is essential for healthy digestion and preventing constipation.
Chia seeds can be a fast-track way of increasing intake; just 2 tbsp. provide 11g fibre. These little seeds can be easily packed into a suitcase and can be consumed as a snack or sprinkled over your breakfast.
Alternatively, try Renew Life Fibresmart capsules containing a gentle combination of marshmallow root and flaxseeds.
Organic Chia Seeds
3. Consider taking probiotics
It’s not only the lack of fibre which can be bothersome to digestion, depending on the country, travellers diarrhoea may affect as many as 5-50% and can put a huge damper on any trip.
Interestingly there is more and more research to suggest that taking probiotics during the trip may be a safe and effective preventative tool 2.
Multi Strain Biotic
4. Choose herbal teas
Bloating and cramps are not uncommon with air travel. Due to air pressure, gas in the intestinal will expand at around 30% when flying.
To prevent the bloat, it’s advisable to pass on the carbonated drinks and gassy foods like broccoli, beans, and onions before your flight.
You may also want to switch your usual airplane coffee with peppermint tea. Animal studies have demonstrated peppermint to have a relaxation and soothing effects on the gut, whilst human studies have looked at peppermint leaf in relation to managing IBS 3.
5. Keep moving
Whilst lying on the beach for weeks is seriously appealing, a lack of movement can cause our digestion to become sluggish.
Research suggests that moderate exercise has positive effects for those suffering with digestive complaints 4, and may stimulate gut motility. Skip the taxi, bring your trainers and go explore! You’ll reach your 10, 000 steps whilst saving money and taking in the sites.
1. Spiegel, K., Tasali, E., Penev, P. & Cauter, E. V. (2004). Brief Communication: Sleep Curtailment in Healthy Young Men Is Associated with Decreased Leptin Levels, Elevated Ghrelin Levels, and Increased Hunger and Appetite. Annals of Internal Medicine, 141 (11), 846.
2. McFarland, L. V. (2006). Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of traveler’s diarrhea. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, 5 (2), 97-105.
3. McKay, D. and Blumberg, J. (2006). A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytotherapy Research, 20 (8), pp.619-633.
4. Grundmann, O. (2014). Complementary and alternative medicines in irritable bowel syndrome: An integrative view. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 20 (2), p.346-62.
By Lily Soutter, Nutritionist BSc (hons), Dip ION
Lily Soutter, Nutritionist BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition, Dip ION
Lily graduated from Newcastle University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Food and Human Nutrition (AfN accredited) where she was awarded the Sage Faculty for Excellence Scholarship. She then went on to gain a Nutritional Therapy Diploma from the Institute of Optimum Nutrition. Lily’s extensive knowledge of the science of food and health, enables her to regularly write for The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Independent, Women’s Health and Cosmopolitan. Her frequent TV appearances include ITV’s primetime series Save Money: Lose Weight with Dr. Ranj Singh. Lily sees clients from her clinic in Chelsea and from the Portobello Clinic, a private medical practice based in Notting Hill.