With the holidays approaching and air travel opening up, many people are getting ready to make their first long distance trip for some time. Besides challenging your immunity, travelling can impact your digestion and gut health. This is especially true if you already struggle with digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut, food sensitivities and allergies, and other gut health conditions. Taking steps to balance and protect your digestion during travel can offer supportive benefits for your gut and overall health as well. Here’s how travel impacts digestion and what you can do to promote your long-term gut health.
How Travel Impacts Your Digestive System
Long distance travel can disrupt your normal digestive rhythms and increase your digestive risks. Here are some top travel-related gut health issues to look out for, and what you can do when going on a trip:
Constipation and Irregularity
When you travel, the changes in your daily schedule, lifestyle, diet, and environment can cause significant changes in bowel regularity. Most people, whether subconscious or consciously, have a scheduled time to go to the bathroom, and these internal rhythms can be thrown off when we are in a new environment. In addition, long distance travel can seriously dehydrate your body, contributing to constipation. Eating more fiber in your diet before and during your trip, plus taking natural digestive herbs and supplements including enzymes and probiotics, can help keep you regular and improve your overall energy and well-being.
Increased Risks of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, indigestion, bloating, a change in bowel habits, and other discomfort. These symptoms are often aggravated by stress and other inflammatory factors that increase during travel, such as dietary triggers and dehydration. Making time to decompress and practice healthy stress relief, as well as regular exercise, can help reduce inflammation, calm your digestion, and relieve IBS symptoms. Natural soothing digestive ingredients such as licorice and pomegranate can also help.
Traveler’s diarrhea is one of the most common illnesses among travelers. Even if you’re not heading to a high-risk region (like certain tropical destinations), any time you travel to a new environment you’re exposing yourself to foreign microbes that can potentially cause infections and upset your normal gut flora. Frequent hand washing, eating well-cooked food prepared in sanitized kitchens, and avoiding tap water can help protect you. In addition, I recommend a pre + probiotic formula that also contains 19 digestive herbs including anise, chamomile, juniper and others to help prevent intestinal infections, balance microbiome, and improve long-term digestive function.1
Jet Lag and Digestion
Long-distance travel to different time zones throws your entire body clock off, causing jet lag symptoms from disrupted circadian rhythms. Jet lag doesn’t just disrupt your sleep cycles, it interferes with all of your internal rhythms, including digestion. Your body clocks tells your stomach when to secrete enzymes for digestion, based on your normal habits and rhythms. But when you travel to new time zones, your eating schedule changes and your body has a hard time catching up. Changes in your gut microbiome activity can also be caused by jet lag. These disruptions can cause indigestion and bowel symptoms.2
Nausea and Bloating
Air travel involves pressure changes in oxygen levels, which can cause symptoms like motion sickness nausea due to stress on your middle ear. These pressure changes also cause bloating, as gas in your gut expands. To help relieve nausea, try to swallow or yawn to open the eustachian tubes that regulate pressure in the middle ear. Digestive herbs, especially ginger can also help relieve nausea and reduce bloating.
Herbs and Supplements for Digestion
There are a number of powerful digestive herbs and ingredients that can relieve digestive symptoms, improve digestive function, and reduce risks of infection. They work by calming digestive upset, increasing digestive enzymes, improving nutrient absorption, supporting bowel regularity, soothing inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, and supporting a healthy microbiome.
Whether you’re going for a long weekend, or taking off for an extended trip, these gut health recommendations can help ensure your journey is a healthy and happy one. And if you’re a frequent flyer, these recommendations can be crucial for protecting your long-term health.
Probiotics for Digestive Help
Probiotics are essential during travel. Not only do they aid digestion and regularity, they control inflammation, support immunity, reduce stress, and keep harmful bacteria at bay. They also produce numerous enzymes and nutrients we need for digestion and overall health. I recommend a certified organic probiotic formula that includes prebiotic nutrients and 19 digestive herbs. This fast-acting liquid formula provides unparalleled digestive relief for long-term digestive conditions, and supports overall digestive balance and rebuilding from multiple angles.3
Medicinal Mushrooms for Gut Health While Travelling
Other helpful supplements for efficient digestion include medicinal mushrooms, particularly the species Hericium, Maitake and Poria. These mushrooms support digestion, immunity, nutrient absorption and overall energy, while helping to eliminate waste and reduce gut inflammation, among other benefits.
Fast-Acting Indigestion Relief Supplement
For healthy digestive function, relief of digestive discomfort, and to defend against travel related gut issues, I recommend a comprehensive digestive formula with herbs, nutrients, and medicinal mushrooms. This formula works short-term to relieve bloating, nausea, and indigestion, and heartburn. It also works long-term to defend gut immunity and rebalance overall digestive function—making it an ideal travel companion.
Traveling can be exciting and exhilarating, but it can also be challenging. Be sure you get the most out of your experience by supporting your digestive health and keeping stress at bay, so you’ll be ready to enjoy your long-awaited trip feeling your healthiest with natural energy, and without gut health issues.
- Riddle MS, Connor BA, Beeching NJ, DuPont HL, Hamer DH, Kozarsky P, Libman M, Steffen R, Taylor D, Tribble DR, Vila J, Zanger P, Ericsson CD. Guidelines for the prevention and treatment of travelers’ diarrhea: a graded expert panel report. J Travel Med. 2017 Apr 1;24(suppl_1):S57-S74.
- Matenchuk BA, Mandhane PJ, Kozyrskyj AL. Sleep, circadian rhythm, and gut microbiota. Sleep Med Rev. 2020 Oct;53:101340.
- Quigley EMM. Prebiotics and Probiotics in Digestive Health. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Jan;17(2):333-344. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2018.09.028.