From sightseeing to swimming to dining out, chances are you have a number of fun activities planned when you travel abroad.
Getting a bad case of travel belly and being stuck in the hotel bathroom probably isn’t one of them.
According to the NHS, it’s one of the most common travel problems.
While your holiday breakouts usually go away within three to five days, we suspect you’d rather avoid them altogether while enjoying your well-deserved vacation.
It turns out that the diet you eat has a huge impact on your chances of getting diarrhea while abroad.
“Travelling introduces you to new food sources, local food-handling practices, and other standards of cleanliness,” said Leah Silberman, a registered dietitian with the Medical Offices of Manhattan HuffPost.
“This increases the likelihood of coming into contact with infections or pollutants that your body may not have built up protection against.”
According to the NHS Fit to Travel Note: Traveler’s diarrhea can be caused by many different germs such as bacteria (E. coli, Salmonella), viruses such as norovirus and parasites.
All of these germs are transmitted by consuming contaminated food and water, or by using contaminated dishes and cutlery.
Whether you’re enjoying your hotel buffet or strolling through a local food market, experts say there are some eating rules you should definitely follow.
If you want to be particularly informed, you can also search the CDC’s Traveler Health website by country to get an idea of what to avoid.
1. Raw fish and meat
According to Vanessa Rissetto, a registered dietitian and co-founder and CEO of Culina Health, raw meat and seafood is a “big taboo” when traveling to certain places abroad.
“We can’t find out where they came from, how long they were out and how they were treated.”
Lea told HuffPost that rare steaks, tartare, sushi, ceviche, or raw seafood, or undercooked meat, fish, or seafood can increase your risk of ingesting bacteria, parasites, or viruses, which can lead to illness.
Meanwhile, the NHS Fit for travel The guide notes that fish and shellfish can be dangerous, even if cooked well.
It also said that you should avoid any meat that is still red or pink or contains red or pink juice.
3. Tap water
It can take some getting used to when traveling, but health experts advise avoiding tap water depending on where you travel.
Contaminated water is a major cause of runny bellies for many travelers.
Mitzi Baum, CEO of the non-profit organization Stop Foodborne Illness, explained: “Because pathogens are not visible to the naked eye, it is difficult to tell if the water is safe to drink.”
NHS guidelines say it’s good practice to drink water or brush your teeth with water that has been bottled or canned by a known manufacturer with the seal intact.
Alternatively, you can boil water and allow it to cool before storing it in a clean container, or filter it with a reliable water filter.
You should make sure that none of your drinks contain ice cubes.
However, the following drinks are safe:
- hot tea and coffee if boiled water was used
- Beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages
- carbonated beverages in sealed cans and bottles
- pasteurized juices
It’s a good idea to do some research on how safe it is to drink water in your travel destination – you can do a search CDC’s Traveler Health website by country.
And the NHS has some detailed advice on this how to clean your water.
3. Fresh fruits and vegetables
You wouldn’t believe that fresh fruit or vegetables could be particularly harmful to your health.
But according to Vanessa, they could pick up germs if left outside for a long time. Therefore, it’s best to opt for products that have been cooked hot enough to kill pathogens.
If you still want to do without fruit or vegetables, it is best to opt for peelable fruit or vegetables – make sure you peel them yourself.
And they should all be washed in potable water.
Meanwhile, Lea added that one should pick thick-skinned produce, such as bananas, oranges, and avocados.
The NHS stressed to avoid raspberries in particular as they are difficult to wash and can lead to cyclosporiasis, an infection that causes diarrhea and is spread through contaminated raw fruit and vegetables or water.
It’s best to avoid lettuce and fresh herbs—this includes side dishes in your drinks, such as mint leaves in mojitos. All of this could have been washed in contaminated water.
And, best of all, opt for fruit juices that come in sealed cartons – while a freshly squeezed juice makes a great addition to your breakfast, it can also be made from unwashed fruit.
4. Dairy products
Pasteurized dairy products should be safe to consume.
But holiday staples like ice cream and cheese and yogurt are likely to contain dangerous germs like listeria, salmonella or E. coli, Lea said.
Choose established retailers or brands when eating unpasteurized cheese or ice cream, the NHS advises.
It’s also best to avoid dairy products that are stored or left out at room temperature – this may include cream or milk for your coffee or tea.
You may also want to avoid dishes with or undercooked eggs like mayonnaise, some sauces, or desserts like mousse.
5. Some street food
As you venture away from your hotel buffet, sampling different street foods can be a fantastic way to get a taste of local cuisine in the place you’re visiting.
However, some food vendors may not be as good at following safety practices like washing hands and checking food temperatures.
That being said, foods that are straight off the grill and piping hot are probably safer to eat – but be sure to walk past stalls whose items appear to have been out for a while.
What to do if the travel stomach bothers you?
Despite all precautions, sometimes it’s inevitable that you’ll experience three or more bouts of the runny, watery feces typical of travelers’ stomachs.
You’re most likely to get it in the first week of travel, and in many cases no special treatment is needed.
Whether it’s light or heavy runs, you should make sure you don’t become dehydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, e.g. B. Water, diluted fruit juices or saline solutions for oral rehydration such as Dioralyte.
If your diarrhea has started to thwart your plans, the NHS recommends you opt for medicines like Imodium or Lomotil, which can also help with stomach pain.
However, you should see a doctor if you find that you are unable to continue your planned activities and have had more than six episodes of diarrhea in a 24-hour period.
Blood or mucus in the stool and severe abdominal pain or vomiting are also signs that you should see a doctor.
On the subject of summer dishes, Dr. Micheal Mosley previously recommended which foods to avoid at your hotel’s breakfast buffet if you want to eat healthily.