Planning a trip can be fun and stressful. How long will you be gone? Where will you stay? How will you get there? What are you going to see? These questions and more will fly through your head as you start to plan, but one detail may get missed and, if you are traveling out of the country, can result in a miserable vacation.
Staying healthy while on vacation can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Regular eating schedules and diets can be impossible, and depending on where you go, the potential of coming down with traveler’s diarrhea can potentially put you in the hospital. We want to share with you how probiotics can help you stay healthy while traveling, how you can take probiotics while you are traveling, and how different types of probiotics (such as drinkable probiotics or probiotic capsules) can help to prevent or, at least, limit the length of traveler’s diarrhea.
Do probiotics help travel?
Your digestive system is a delicate balancing act between “good” bacteria and “bad” gut bacteria. This balance can get off track with diet, sickness, medication, unclean water, stress and simply a different environment. While you can counter some of this with better food choices, some outside factors can be impossible to control, especially while traveling.
When traveling, our bodies are exposed to germs they are not used to. You also will not stick to the same diet your body is used to. Experiencing new and exciting foods and drinks is a highlight of traveling. Alcohol can be a go-to for a lot of travelers, especially when visiting countries where restrictions are not as severe. You can easily lose track of the number of drinks you have when you are enjoying yourself. Delicious new foods also temptingly call out to you when traveling, and many of these are served up by street vendors where safety is not as regulated. Finally, while traveling, you are putting a lot more activity and stress on your body by walking around new cities and out-of-the-way destinations. Too often, drinking enough water is not on your mind and, in some cases, not even possible.
It is easier to stick to the diet and habits that keep you healthy at home, but once you start a trip, domestically or internationally, those habits can fly out the window. Probiotics can help keep your digestive system regular while you try new foods and drinks, but you should consult with your doctor before purchasing probiotics.
In addition to adding healthy bacteria to your gut, probiotics will also form a protective barrier over the mucous lining of your intestinal tract and protect it from harmful bacteria coming in from food and water sources. Adding probiotics to your system while you travel can help with your immune system and keep you from feeling constipated or having loose stool.
How do you take probiotics when traveling?
It may feel overwhelming to plan on taking probiotics during your trip when packing for so many other unknowns. With only a few simple additions, adding probiotics to your travel plans is relatively simple. It is best to take a travel probiotic with at least 30 billion colony-forming units (CFU) during travel, and those that contain either Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium are recommended4. It is also essential to take a probiotic that will remain active and viable for the entire trip.
Planning your probiotic intake for your trip starts a little earlier than you may think. It is best to start taking a probiotic at least two weeks before your journey begins. This gives your body a chance to adapt to the bacterial changes that happen in your gut. If you wait until you are on your trip to start probiotic supplements, you may suffer from common side effects like gas, bloating, or constipation. If you start a probiotic at home, you can take the time to find the best usage for your body.
While traveling, you should continue taking a probiotic daily to avoid travel constipation. Drinkable probiotics can be easier to take while on the go, but plane regulations and concern about keeping them refrigerated may worry some people. On the other hand, some people may be concerned about having loose stools. There are people that may suffer from loose stools or diarrhea while drinking more alcohol and being stressed during the trip. If you’re wondering, “Can I take a probiotic on a plane?”, make sure you double-check the regulations online as some supplements might not be allowed. Regardless of the probiotic you take, the temperature is a significant factor that affects the bacterial count in any probiotic over time. When possible, it is best to keep probiotics refrigerated or stored over ice packs to keep them cool while on a trip and refrigerate once you reach your destination. Bio-K+® has new capsules that are stable at room temperature for 6 months which makes traveling with probiotics much more convenient. Our 30 billion probiotic formula is gentle, yet effective, making it a great travel companion.
When returning from your travels, it is important to keep taking the probiotic for at least two weeks. Taking a travel probiotic after your trip gives your body a better chance to battle potential digestive issues and the bad bacteria that cause traveler’s diarrhea.
While probiotics are an essential addition to your travel plans, they are not the only way to support a healthy gut while traveling. It is vital to drink bottled water and avoid ice and fruit if you are staying in a developing country. It is also essential to play it smart when deciding which of those tasty treats you are willing to try, especially if they are not well cooked. Bad bacteria from food and water cause many cases of travelers’ diarrhea, and lack of cleanliness. Visit our blog post, How to Stay Healthy While Traveling, for more information and tips.
Do probiotics help with travelers’ diarrhea?
20-50% of people traveling to developing countries catch travelers’ diarrhea1. This form of diarrhea can be caused by ingesting contaminated food and water, or from an Escherichia coli (ETEC) infection. While not usually serious, it is uncomfortable and can ruin a perfectly good trip. In addition to diarrhea, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever can also occur. Some people can become dehydrated, and in 1% of cases1, hospitalization is necessary.
Children are at the highest risk for travelers’ diarrhea, as it can quickly cause dehydration in a short time if not checked. Visit a hospital or doctor if the following symptoms appear on your trip2:
- Persistent vomiting
- A fever of 102°F or more
- Bloody stool or severe diarrhea
- Dry mouth or crying without tears
- Signs of being unusually sleepy or unresponsive
- Decreased amount of urine, less wet diapers in an infant
In a meta-analysis published in the Epidemiology and Health journal in 2018, probiotics were seen as an effective option to prevent traveler’s diarrhea3. Antibiotics and vaccines are also an option if the fear of traveler’s diarrhea is intense.
What is the best probiotic supplement for travel?
When planning which probiotic to take on your travels, it is crucial to choose one based on the following factors:
- Does the strain of your probiotic prove to be effective?
- Will the bacteria in your probiotic survive all the way to the intestine?
- Does your probiotic supplement have a CFU of at least 30 billion as recommended by doctors?
Bio-K+® has drinkables, and FDA approved capsules for your convenience during travel. Our products use a patented combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285, Lactobacillus casei LBC8OR, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus CLR2 that work together to form healthy bacteria in your gut. The substrate of milk, soy, peas or rice also provides additional nourishment and protection. Bio-K+® capsules protect the bacteria inside with delayed release technology (DR-caps) to ensure their vitality through the stomach and into your gut. Studies by the American Journal of Gastroenterology confirm that Bio-K+® is safe and effective in helping keep your gut healthy.
Your only concerns on vacation should be to have fun, relax, and take enough pictures to drive your family nuts. Worries over staying healthy should be kept far back in your mind. With a little pre-planning, staying healthy while traveling is possible. Take the time to find the right probiotic for your body and travel plans and be sure to take extra caution when trying new foods and drinks. If you are worried about traveler’s diarrhea or other indigestion problems, probiotics can add an extra level of fortification and can make sure to keep your gut balanced and enjoy that trip of a lifetime.
Learn more about Bio-K+® probiotics and how they can add to your gut health while traveling or at home. For more information on why to use probiotics, and how it can make a difference in your everyday life, visit our blog. Promoting a healthy gut is not as hard as you think, with a healthy balance of helpful gut bacteria, you can be sure to enjoy years of travel.
1) “Travellers’ Diarrhea” GI Society, https://badgut.org/information-centre/a-z-digestive-topics/caring-for-your-gut-while-travelling-abroad/.
2) “Traveler’s diarrhea” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/travelers-diarrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20352182.
3) “Probiotics – your savior during travel” News-Medical.Net, https://www.news-medical.net/health/Should-You-Take-Probiotics-Whilst-Travelling.aspx.
4) Sniffen, Jason C et al. “Choosing an appropriate probiotic product for your patient: An evidence-based practical guide.” PloS one vol. 13,12 e0209205. 26 Dec. 2018, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0209205, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30586435/