Traveler’s Guide to Probiotics and Digestion

One of the important mantras for traveling free is – “A happy tummy equals a happy journey.”

When traveling, there are many changes to your diet, the water you consume, your sleeping patterns, and more. All these factors can stress your body, especially your digestive system, in ways more than one. 

And if you’ve digestive issues during travel, it can be challenging to enjoy your travels. 

And this is where the importance of probiotics comes in. 

What Are Probiotics? 

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your gut health. Our body consists of good and bad bacteria, and when the bad bacteria overwhelm the good ones, there’s an imbalance in your gut microbiome. 

Taking probiotics empowers your gut by adding good bacteria that boost your defenses against harmful bacteria, which is highly useful when your diet changes due to travel. 

Probiotics can be taken as supplements or as foods such as yogurt, kombucha, pickles, miso, kimchi, etc. 

Probiotics are usually a mix of live good bacteria, including Saccharomyces, Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium. There are many other variants, but these are the popularly recommended ones. 

Benefits of Probiotics 

Digestive issues are common while traveling, and having probiotics can help provide a formidable defense against them. 

However, probiotics alone shouldn’t be your only defense, as you must be careful about what you put in your mouth. 

Make sure you always have packaged drinking water, avoid ice, and keep away from cold cuts or undercooked foods.

Some of the top benefits of probiotics include –

  • Helps keep constipation, a common problem among travelers, at bay.
  • Probiotics prevent the entry of pathogens into our body via the intestinal tract, safeguarding against food poisoning, traveler’s diarrhea, and stomach infection. 
  • Probiotics stimulate our immune and digestive systems to protect against infections. 
  • Boosts the production of digestive enzymes.
  • Probiotics facilitate efficient digestion, ensuring better absorption of nutrients from the food we consume during travel. 
  • Probiotics can modulate the gut-brain axis, helping manage and reduce stress caused by travel.
  • If, for any reason, you need to take antibiotics during your travel, having probiotics can help reduce its impact on your gut microbiome. 

When to take probiotics when traveling?

Ideally, you should start taking probiotics at least two weeks before you’re planning to travel. This will help seeding the bacteria in the gut and allow it to acclimatize. 

Moreover, there are certain side effects like bloating and flatulence that you may or may not suffer initially, so starting early mitigates the risk of suffering from these side effects while traveling. 

It’s essential to continue to take probiotics during and at least two weeks after your travel. 

Don’t purchase probiotics for your travel that need refrigeration for apparent reasons. Always check CFU (colony forming units) in the probiotics you are buying and the ‘best by’ date. 

Ideally, higher CFU units are preferred, but it’s even more important to check the quality of strains included in the probiotics than the quantity. 

The Bottom Line 

If your gut health isn’t performing at its best during travels, you won’t likely enjoy as much as you anticipated. 

Taking probiotics is a life hack to boost your gut health, but don’t take it as a license to indulge mindlessly in junk foods or eating unhealthy. 

Make sure to support your gut health by taking probiotics and staying hydrated, eating healthy, and saying no to foods you know aren’t good for you (and you know what foods they are).