From indigestion to bloating, long-distance travel can be detrimental to our gut health and really take away from the fun of a summer vacation.
The good news is that with a little careful planning and expert knowledge, there’s quite a bit you can do to help.
To effectively manage your symptoms, James Kinross, a consultant colon surgeon at King Edward VII’s Hospital in London, has shared his simple strategies for fighting bloating.
While not everyone experiences stomach upset when traveling to sunnier climes, factors such as changes in daily routine, dietary changes and stress can all trigger irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Mr Kinross said: “Tackling irritable bowel syndrome while traveling requires a combination of mindful eating, staying hydrated, light physical activity and effective stress management.”
“By following these tips, you can make your vacation more comfortable and enjoyable without compromising your digestive health.”
1. Stay hydrated
It’s easy to forget to drink enough water when traveling.
But staying hydrated is important to prevent constipation and ensure regular bowel movements, Mr Kinross said.
“Always carry a reusable water bottle and make it a habit to drink water frequently, especially in hot climates or on long flights,” he added.
The same applies if you take advantage of the all-inclusive cocktails.
Drinking water between alcoholic beverages keeps your digestive system happy and lessens the severity of a hangover, Mr Kinross said.
2. Eat mindfully
Tasting the local cuisine is an exciting part of any holiday, and dining out is a great way to explore what’s on offer.
However, it’s important to note that some ingredients can make your IBS symptoms worse, such as high-fat, greasy and spicy foods, Mr Kinross said.
He recommends sticking to familiar products that you know are easy on your stomach.
The surgeon also recommended choosing well-cooked, easily digestible meals containing lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains whenever possible.
3. Take a slow walk
It can be tempting to head to bed after enjoying the hotel buffet.
However, according to Mr Kinross, a short, gentle walk can do a lot for your body, including preventing gas and improving digestion.
It doesn’t have to be a long walk either.
Research shows that just 10 minutes of walking after meals is enough to boost digestion.
“Whether you’re exploring a new city or relaxing at a beach location, try to incorporate leisurely walks into your daily routine,” Mr Kinross said.
4. Snack wisely
Airport and in-flight meals can trigger symptoms. To be on the safe side, Mr. Kincross recommends having IBS-friendly snacks on hand.
“Bananas, rice cakes and plain crackers are easy on the digestive system and can provide a quick source of nourishment without worsening IBS symptoms,” he said.
5. Avoid lots of fiber
In general, fiber is important for overall digestive health.
But overeating can cause discomfort and bloating, Mr Kinross warned.
High-fiber foods can ferment in the gut, causing bloating and abdominal pain.
It is therefore best to avoid beans, chickpeas and lentils before you embark on a long-distance journey.
Mr Kinross said: “Before your flight, opt for low-fiber foods such as white rice, lean protein and cooked vegetables to minimize the risk of IBS symptoms during the trip.”
6. Minimize stress
Between airport delays and planning your itinerary, traveling in general can be quite an ordeal.
How can you counteract this? Using relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation and yoga to reduce stress levels, says Mr. Kinross.
Making sure you have some time to yourself during your trip to rest and relax can also contribute to a more enjoyable experience and reduce IBS flare-ups, he added.
Finally, for those who regularly suffer from IBS, don’t forget to pack any necessary medication or supplements that you know can help.
Having them on hand gives you peace of mind and saves you when you get stuck.
And if you are taking prescribed medication for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you should consult your doctor before your holiday to ensure you have adequate supplies and documentation should you need it.
“These strategies can help you make the most of your summer adventures while keeping irritable bowel syndrome symptoms at bay,” Kinross said.
“However, if you experience persistent or severe symptoms, do not hesitate to seek medical advice.”