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How to Prevent Digestive Problems While Traveling

It can be tempting to throw caution to the wind and indulge in all sorts of tasty treats full of fat, dairy, and other tough-on-stomach ingredients. However, when you’re traveling, you should always use caution to avoid ruining your trip with unpleasant digestive issues. To help you prevent digestive issues, here are a few common digestive problems and how to prevent them when you’re traveling.

Diarrhea

Caused by eating food or drinking water that contains bacteria, diarrhea is a common problem among travelers. To keep it away and prevent it while on vacation, follow these tips.

  1. Make sure that any meat you consume is cooked thoroughly. Also ensure that it is hot and steaming when served to you, as this means that it is fresh and less likely to contain the bacteria that builds up when food goes cold.
  2. Drink bottled water and don’t add ice to it, unless the ice has been made with safe, distilled, water.
  3. Don’t eat food or drinks that are unpasteurized.
  4. If you’re suffering from diarrhea, avoid consuming greasy foods and foods that are high in fiber.
  5. Skip the caffeine- even if it means a slow start each morning.

Constipation

It’s no fun to be in the bathroom due to diarrhea, but its no more fun being unable to have a bowel movement, either. Constipation can cause stomach ache, discomfort, and gas. To prevent it, here are a few tips.

  1. Stay hydrated. Water is the best thing for keeping a person regular as it keeps things moving and working properly- including the bowels.
  2. Avoid medications and mineral supplements that can trigger a case of constipation. Some minerals like iron and calcium can cause build-up, so be careful.
  3. Eat fiber. Foods that are high in fiber such as fruits and vegetables are perfect for keeping you regular.

Heartburn

Heartburn is another digestive issue that many travelers face. Heartburn can be managed, however, with the tips below.

  1. Eat small meals. When digestion is an issue and heartburn the symptom, it’s a good idea to eat small meals during the day instead of a large one at dinner.
  2. Stay upright for as long as you can after eating. Laying down after a meal increases the chances of heartburn.
  3. Don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol can cause unbearable cases of heartburn and ruin your evening in a matter of seconds.

Gas and bloating.

Gas and bloating, although not harmful, are uncomfortable and often times, inconvenient. They are a result of the intake of extra air into the stomach, and can be associated with certain foods. To avoid gas and bloating, here are a few tips.

  1. Avoid foods such as beans and asparagus, as these foods are known to cause gas.
  2. Eat slowly. The faster we eat, the more air we take in, increasing our chances of getting gas.
  3. Avoid carbonated drinks such as soda and beer- these drinks contain carbon dioxide, which causes gas and bloating
  4. If you come down with gas or bloating, partake in light exercise such as squats and bending to pick things up off of the ground.

Stay Fit While On Vacation

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With all the tasty food, exciting liquor, and ways to relax while on vacation, it’s no wonder that staying fit takes a backseat for the duration of most vacations. It is, however, important and should not be forgotten. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to stay active and fit while away from home.

Bring lightweight workout equipment.

When packing your bags, consider packing some lightweight, easy to carry workout equipment.  Equipment such as jump ropes and resistance bands are easy to carry and take up very little space in a suitcase or carry on, and both can be used in a hotel room without causing a disturbance.

Follow the two day rule.

The two day rule is a great way to make exercise a priority. This rule requires a strict workout structure- no more than two days should go by without a workout of some sort, whether it be a 3 mile jog or a cardio session at the local fitness center. 

Enroll in a fitness class.

If you’re staying in or near a city, consider enrolling in a fitness class or two. Not only will the class keep you in shape, but it could also prove to be a lot of fun as many locations offer their own unique fitness classes. Some that come to mind are classes that include yoga with goats, aerial fitness, and jump rope.

Opt to walk.

Although taking a tour of the land around you from the comfort of a bus or train sounds tempting, it can be detrimental to your physical fitness. Instead of booking a tour bus, opt to see the sights on foot. Doing so will get you up and moving, keep your blood flowing, and allow you to thoroughly take in the scenery.

Plan for a food emergency.

It’s not uncommon to lose track of time and miss a meal. This, although harmless at the time, can catch up with you later in the firm of a large, heavy meal full of carbs and unhealthy fat. To be prepared for a food disaster, keep your backpack or travel pack full of healthy snacks such as protein bars and dried fruit.

Avoid skipping meals.

As mentioned above, skipping a meal may seem harmless during the moment. It can, however, be harmful later on. Skipping meals can make you feel unwell, and can also lead to binge eating and overeating, both of which include the consumption of excess calories and unhealthy fats. 

Stay hydrated.

Water, or lack of it, is linked to hunger. If you’re dehydrated while on vacation, your stomach can be tricked into thinking that you’re hungry when in fact you’re just not drinking enough fluids. As a rule of thumb, always try to drink as much as possible to avoid this common problem. Keep in mind, as well, that alcohol actually dehydrates the body so it shouldn’t be considered a fluid in this case. If you’re going to drink alcohol, be sure to drink water alongside it.

Before You Travel Make Sure You Get Your Shots

If you are planning on traveling to somewhere exotic either for business or pleasure you might want to check into which vaccinations you need for international travel.  As part of your to-do list you should check with the CDC to see what vaccinations you need if any.  The CDC groups vaccinations into three categories, routine, recommended and required.  So before you travel make sure you get your shots, malaria isn’t going to be pleasant.

Routine Innoculations

These are the normal vaccines you got as a child, such as those for measles, mumps and tetanus.  If you’re an adult now then you may need a booster, most vaccines only last for a decade or so.  This is a good time to make sure that all of your shots are completely up to date.

Recommended Innoculations

These types of vaccines are largely dependent on where you are traveling to, for instance if you are heading to Europe there are only a couple of recommended vaccines.  Europe has health standards much like our own.  The CDC may only recommend you get the hepatitis vaccines.  If you are traveling to Africa, particularly a rural part then the number of vaccines is far longer.  For that type of travel you will need vaccines against malaria, typhoid and rabies.  Those are illnesses that we don’t have to worry much about in the US.  Here are some of the vaccines you may need.

Your age, the time of year and your overall health and what you plan to do at your destination are all going to play a role in the vaccines that you need.  After checking with the CDC to find out what is recommended based on your destination then it is time to have a conversation with your primary care doctor to see what they recommend as well.

Mandatory Vaccines

Some countries won’t even let you in unless you have the mandatory vaccines.  For example if you are traveling to Saudi Arabia during the Hajj then the meningococcal vaccine is a must or if you are traveling to parts of South America you need to be immunized against yellow fever.

When to Get Vaccinated

Once you have your travel plans laid out then it is time to book an appointment with your doctor.  Some vaccines need a month or more for them to be effective, while others require a series of shots.  Nobody enjoys getting their shots but you will enjoy having a vaccine preventable disease far less.

Staying Healthy While Traveling

Travel can be a welcome change from everyday life, but if you are constantly traveling for work it can wreak havoc on your health.  Traveling makes it hard to get in regular exercise and eating in restaurants every day is a high calorie nightmare.  Your healthy routines can end up taking a back seat to business meetings and airplane travel.  There are some things that you can do that will help you stick to healthy lifestyle and not get too far off track.

Eating Healthy

When you are traveling you should bring snacks with you to eat on the plane or between meals.  You can pack almonds, dried fruit, fresh cut veggies or some raw nuts.  You should always have a bottle of water nearby so you can keep yourself hydrated, this also helps you to avoid getting jet lag.  If you are the one booking the hotel then try and get a room with a kitchen so you don’t have to eat at a restaurant for each meal.  Packing supplements can help you make sure you are getting the right nutrients.

Eating Out

Eating out is an inevitable part of traveling and it’s a great part of the experience especially if you’re on vacation.  When you travel half the month on business you’re going to have to learn to choose healthier options while you’re away.  So skip the heavy sauces and try ordering things like grilled chicken and vegetables.  If you are ordering salad then make sure the dressing stays on the side.  If you are drinking then have wine it has fewer calories.  Restaurants tend to serve huge portions so order appetizers or even a child’s portion.

Getting a Workout

Most hotels come with some type of fitness facilities even if it is only a couple of treadmills, lack of equipment isn’t a reason to start skipping workouts.  Even 20 minutes on the treadmill is better than nothing.  Even without any fitness facilities you can still do push ups, crunches, lunges and squats right in the room.  You can travel with resistance bands as well.  The stairs can be an awesome workout as well.  If you have a gym memberships with one of the national chains then you may be able to workout as a guest at a different club.

Traveling does make it harder to get in regular workouts and to eat properly but that shouldn’t be a license to overindulge.  You can make it work if you try.