Poor gut health is one of the unfortunate consequences of traveling overseas. This is a particular nuisance for those traveling from industrialized nations to developing countries. There are two main causes of traveler's diarrhea. One is poor hygiene and the other is food that just doesn't agree with your digestive system. Taking probiotic supplements before, during and after your travels is a good idea. This ensures you have a strong and healthy gut flora. A healthy intestinal flora is beneficial to travelers for two reasons:
- Prevents bowel infections from occurring
- Fights off any infections thus lessening their severity and duration
Probiotics to Look For
Not all probiotic supplements are equal and that means they're not all effective. For these reasons you need to be mindful of what probiotics you choose. Ideally, look for a high quality product that provides five billion live cultures. Make sure they guarantee this until the end of the expiry date too. You want to look for a multi-strain probiotic supplement, and one that also contains bacteria like the following:
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus Rosell-11
- Saccharomyces boulardii
There are many products out there and they all sound impressive when you read the labels. However, it's crucial that you chose a product that will serve your specific needs as a traveler. If in doubt, seek advice from someone in the know. If you're going to hot, humid climates, you want a supplement that contains strains which can survive at higher temperatures. Again, if you're unsure seek professional assistance.
It's not always possible to avoid the onset of diarrhea, but there are certainly things you can do that may prevent it from occurring. One is to maintain a healthy intestinal flora, which you can do by taking probiotics as suggested. The other most important thing is to be careful what you eat and drink. Food is more of a problem than water as most people traveling to developed countries drink bottled water anyway. What you have to be careful with here is the ice. Most people who get diarrhea from fluids tend to get it from contaminated ice cubes, so take heed.
Another precaution is to steer clear of empty restaurants. It might be tempting when you're tired and hungry, but empty looking restaurants are usually quiet for a reason. Look for places which are busy and thriving as this ensures the food is fresh and turned over quickly.
Even with precautions in place, sometimes a bout of traveler's diarrhea is unavoidable. All the same, if you have taken the right kind of probiotics, at least the symptoms will be less aggressive and the recovery time quicker.
What the Scientists Say
Today, there is an increased understanding on the root causes of the so-called travelers' diarrhea. In this review, scientists look closely at the newest data.