You see, the human immune system is programmed to adapt to our environment, which means that it produces antibodies to fight the harmful substances and pathogens that it encounters regularly. When we travel to a new, different environment, we don’t have natural defenses set up against the many “bugs” that live there.
Travel bummers like food poisoning and temporary traveler’s diarrhea are common tourist pitfalls but are by no means guaranteed sentences on your next adventure.
Boil It, Cook It, Peel It, or Forget It
Who doesn’t love the thrill of sampling exotic cuisine? Unfortunately, those thrilling new dishes may not agree with your digestive system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anywhere from 30-70 percent of travelers experience temporary traveler’s diarrhea (TD). In many cases, the culprit is E. coli bacteria that live in the untreated water supply and wild animal feces that litter local produce fields.
Considering the risks, it is always wise to drink bottled water and boil, peel, or thoroughly cook anything you eat or drink. Cleaning produce with a mild bleach solution (or even apple cider vinegar) when you travel abroad can also help prevent any digestive issues.
Unfortunately, even if you do take all of the recommended precautions, you may still have issues. Sure, you can plan to skip the roadside vendors and farmer’s markets, but the reality is that you can pick up undesirable bacteria while dining at posh resorts and swank bistros as well. Any uncooked or cold foods are suspect, and carrying bottles of bleach water or food thermometers around while sightseeing isn’t usually feasible.
The good news is that probiotics could be the key to keeping your digestion comfortable and healthy while you explore exotic lands.
Friendly Flora: Tiny Traveler’s Insurance
All of the good and bad bacteria in our body make up our microbiome, and a balanced one—with plenty of good bacteria—supports our immune system, healthy blood sugar levels already within the normal range, nutrient absorption, and even positive mood. Beneficial bacteria also work to maintain the strength of our gut lining and to crowd out any invaders that try to settle in.
However, when our probiotic population is too low and our microbiome becomes unbalanced, we can become susceptible to inhospitable bacteria that we encounter in our travels. Many aspects of our modern lifestyles can deplete the good bacteria in our gut. From food laden with chemicals and antibiotics to a heavily processed and sugary diet, antibacterial products, and even stress, several factors can deplete the beneficial microbes we’re inherently meant to have.
Stay Strong With Probiotics
Studies show that our good gut guys may play a pretty important role in discouraging temporary traveler’s diarrhea. In an in vitro trial, a variety of Lactobacillus strains were able to inhibit the growth of E. Coli1 and in a human study, probiotics reduced the risk of travelers developing temporary diarrhea from 7.4% to 3.9% per day2.
You can support your probiotic populations by eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir, but to make sure you're getting a variety of specific beneficial microbes that can help to maintain your health while traveling, it makes sense to supplement with a daily multi-strain probiotic formula like Hyperbiotics PRO-15. With 15 targeted strains, PRO-15 utilizes BIO-Tract®, a patented delivery method that transports live probiotics deep into your gut, so they can set up shop and start supporting you before and during your trip.
Ready for the good news? You don’t even have to worry about refrigeration! At Hyperbiotics, we use a LiveBac® patented manufacturing process, so PRO-15 doesn’t require any refrigeration for easy transport and storage on your trip.
Vacations should be spent on boardwalks and beaches, not in bathrooms. With some commonsense precautions and a belly full of good bugs, you may just be able to enjoy a street vendor’s (cooked) meal-on-a-stick without consequence on your next globe-trotting expedition.References:
1. Lin, P., Hsieh, Y., & Tsai, C. (2009). Antagonistic activity of Lactobacillus acidophilus RY2 isolated from healthy infancy feces on the growth and adhesion characteristics of enteroaggregative Escherichia coli. Anaerobe, 15(4), 122-126.
2. Hilton, E., Kolakowski, P., Singer, C., & Smith, M. (1997). Efficacy of Lactobacillus GG as a Diarrheal Preventive in Travelers. Journal of Travel Medicine, 4(1), 41-43.
Julie Hays is the Communications Director here at Hyperbiotics. Health writer and mama of three little girls, Julie's on a mission to empower others to live lives free of the microbial depletion many of us face today. For more ideas on how you can maximize wellness and benefit from the power of probiotics, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.