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By Dr. Amy Shah

Renowned double-board-certified M.D., nutrition expert at
amymdwellness.com and author of I’m So Effing Tired


With summer upon us, and the increased availability of vaccines improving COVID-19 infection rates, travel is on the rise. The eagerness to travel again means irregular eating, irregular sleep schedule and irregular exercise. Travel can be a shock to the microbiome. Our bodies are regulated by a circadian rhythm and when that gets thrown off by jet lag, a change in time zone or simply altered eating and sleep schedules, it can lead to constipation, indigestion or heartburn. How do you manage your gut health while on the road?

DOs:

  • Keep your diet simple and keep your fiber intake up! The best sources of fiber include fruits (bananas, apples, blueberries), vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables), nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans. Keep nuts, fruit or baby carrots on hand. This way you don’t get tempted to pick up something to eat at the airport or on the go. Choose a salad or roasted vegetables and a vegetarian protein at a restaurant. If you can, head to a local market and buy a pre-made salad instead of eating out. The key is to minimize your intake of processed, sugary or sodium-heavy foods and do not overeat!

  • Make sure you take in gut-healthy, anti-inflammatory spices (cinnamon, garlic, ginger, pepper, cardamom, cloves, etc.) while on the road.

  • Eat probiotics (yogurt is easy to eat anytime, anyplace). Probiotics keep your immunity high and they destroy harmful pathogens while producing healthy nutrients for our body.

  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated means nutrients are moving around the body and toxins are flushing out. This is essential to maintaining a healthy gut.

  • Go outside. Try to get morning sun and 30 minutes of exercise a day. Something as simple as a 30-minute walk through a park will do wonders for your microbiome.

  • Give your gut a rest. Practice some form of circadian fasting, even if it’s a 12-hour break from food. You do not have to do it daily, but do it as often as you can.

  • Get enough sleep. Seven to eight hours a night is your goal. If you can, turn off your phone one hour before bed. Blue light reduces melatonin production, which controls your circadian rhythm. When your melatonin is off, your sleep-wake cycle is off.

DON’Ts:

  • Unless necessary, do not take antibiotics or any medication while traveling. Any drug you take can affect your microbiome and potentially make it more vulnerable to other stressors.

  • Do not over-consume drinks that contain a lot of sugar, caffeine or alcohol. Everything in moderation is OK, but water is always the best!

  • Don’t stress – travel should be fun, so enjoy the journey. Stress negatively affects your body, which ultimately harms your gut health.

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