Introduction:Having traveler's diarrhea can ruin a vacation. It can last anywhere from 1 day to the entire length of the trip. There are there are many things you can do *before* you go, and while you are away to prevent traveler's diarrhea.
The golden rule on the road is don't eat it unless it has been boiled or peeled and to avoid the local water. Though this is good advice, there are other things to consider to boost your immunity, and to help you fight fight off the effects of foreign bacteria on your gut while traveling.
Probiotics line your stomach with healthy good bacteria, the same found in yogurt. Probiotics helps you fight off foreign bacteria and keeps your intestinal tract moving smoothly. I bought a bottle of Florastor at the drugstore. My travel doctor recommended taking one tab a day before I left, and then for every day for the rest of my 30 day trip. It is easy to bring on the road, as it doesn't need to be stored in the fridge.
Florastor is my new travel buddy. I spent two months traveling in Central America, eating and drinking with a group of 6 people. I was the only one taking Florastor every day, and I was the only one who didn't have an accident in her pants.
Drink 8-12 glasses of water while you are away. This is important as it helps you flush away foreign bacteria but also helps you stay regular, and hydrated.
I know that this is tough one, as you are on vacation, and you want to have a few drinks. But what most people do not realize is that alcohol weakens your immunity and dehydrates you. What is worse is that hangovers mimic many of the symptoms we often blame on traveler's diarrhea. So go ahead and have a few drinks, but don't over do it, especially if you aren't sleeping or drinking plenty of water.
On vacation we are too often running around, cramming in all the sites we can, and it is our bodies that pay the price. Not getting enough sleep can also weaken our immunity systems. A weaker immunity system means we can't fight off foreign bacteria that enters our guts as effectively. So, stay out late, but also sleep in so that you get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
I eat street food when I travel, I also eat lettuce in Mexico. I only do these things because after being there for a few days I learn which restaurants soak their raw vegetables in iodine to disinfect them. Learning about the restaurants takes time, so does your stomach.
Often it is not the poor food preparation or bacteria that makes us sick, but is instead the introduction of new foods and spices. So go slow. The first days eat food you would regularly encounter at home. And then slowly introduce new tastes and spices.
Traveler's diarrhea is preventable. There are many things we can do before we leave for our trip and after we get there to avoid getting sick. Often we blame the foreign food, the dirty food preparation; and all of these things are factors. But it is also how we treat our bodies when we are traveling that makes us more prone to be ill equipped with fighting off foreign bacteria once it enters our systems.
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