Your long-awaited holiday is coming up, and you want to make sure you come home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, not sluggish and tired, right? Follow these 7 simple steps to take your gut health on holidays (or anywhere you go)!
1. Relax & Unwind
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for all year – a chance to relax and forget the everyday stresses of life! Your digestive system is sensitive to stress, anxiety, anger, sadness, and other emotions1https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection. Stress is almost always felt in our digestion2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5736941/ due to the gut-brain connection. When you are in a relaxed and happy state, this gut-brain connection aids the production of anti-inflammatory substances in the gut and helps strengthen the gut lining3https://atlasbiomed.com/blog/gut-health-self-care/#stress. Take this time out to unwind, and your gut will thank you for it!
2. Explore the Nature
You’re in a new place full of beauty and opportunities, so go out and explore the scenery! Help foster biodiversity by spending time outdoors while on holiday – go on a hike, find a nature trail, do some outdoor yoga, get your fingertips on the trees and plants around you. Individuals who are exposed to nature show increased microbial diversity4https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-28550-3, which is a key indicator of a healthy microbiome. Being outside exposes you to millions of microbes that can benefit your microbiome! Research also shows that those who spend 2 or more hours in nature a week have superior levels of health and wellbeing compared to those who don’t5https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3.
3. Drink Kefir
Kefir is one of the best ways to improve the living ecosystem inside your gut, and is proven to actively support your digestion, skin and immune system. If you are already a regular consumer of kefir, than no doubt you will be reluctant to spend a week or two without it. The good new is, you don’t have to! You can pack your Chuckling Goat Kefir with you to keep your gut bugs happy – whether you’re going by air, land, or sea! Read the best tips for travelling with your kefir here. If you’re looking for a local kefir while away, the best choice is a plain variety of goat’s milk kefir that has no added sugar.
4. Embrace the Local Cuisine
A diverse microbiome is a healthy microbiome. A varied diet, consisting of several different types of whole foods will contribute to a more diverse microbiome. Travelling to different areas and cultures is an amazing opportunity to feed your gut lots of new and diverse foods you might not see at home. Aim to try new foods, spices and local dishes each day. Take yourself to a food market and really embrace the local cuisine!
5. Don’t Resist the Resistant Starch
Resistant starch is a prebiotic-rich fibre6https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/star.201000099 that you can easily opt for on holidays. Consuming these fibres will feed your good bacteria and contribute to a healthy microbiome. Look for cooked vegetables, grains, cooked and cooled potatoes, green bananas, oats, beans and legumes.
6. Catch Some Z’s
Over 50% of adults get less sleep than needed7https://atlasbiomed.com/blog/biohacking-sleep-and-biohacking-insomnia-with-lifestyle-and-diet/. Take this time away to not only catch up on sleep, but to establish or reinforce a good-quality sleeping pattern going forward. A typical, healthy adult needs an average of eight hours of quality sleep each night (individual requirements will vary). Get into the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day – yes, even on holidays! Several studies have found that sleep deprivation can negatively impact microbiome composition8https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6779243/. A lack of sleep also decreases your levels of the hormone leptin, thus leading to increased appetite, food cravings, reduced feelings of satiety, and also weight gain9https://atlasbiomed.com/blog/sleep-digestion-and-weight-gain/#sleep-disturbances. So getting sufficient sleep while on holidays will benefit both your gut microbiome composition, and your decision-making around food choices.
Staying hydrated is a simple step towards good gut health. This is especially important if you’re visiting a hot climate or more active than usual. Drinking enough water is also favourable for the balance of good bacteria in your gut, and beneficial for the mucosal lining of the intestines10https://www.healthline.com/health/gut-health. Drinking plenty of water will also help your body flush oxalates out!
Happy travels to you and your gut bugs!