It’s finally here – summer. Holidays offer the chance to relax, focus on recreational activities, and recover all that lost energy. In this regard, the gut’s importance is still oftentimes forgotten: “In need of a vacation” or “exhausted” are just other ways of describing constant perceived stress. Stress which leads to an imbalance in the gut flora. If “foreign” germs from foods and drinks at one’s holiday destination are also introduced into the mix, this can lead to further weakening of the body’s defences.
Are you also already counting the days till your holiday begins? The only thing which can dampen one’s anticipation is stress before the vacation. At the workplace, there’s mostly still a pile of unfinished work which absolutely must be finished so that one can fully relax during the holiday. After coming home from work, it’s not just the normal household tasks have to be taken care of. The trip needs to be planned to avoid straying aimlessly at your holiday destination. Then the day finally arrives. For globetrotters who live by the motto: “the path is the goal”, the journey is already a wellness programme. For travellers who prefer to reach their goal as quickly as possible the journey can already be a hassle: Traffic jams on the motorway and bored children in the back seat, the overcrowded train with noise levels surpassing 100 decibels, the queue at the airport check-in as well as the first orientation at the holiday destination – by the time you have reached your destination lots of adrenalin has been pumped into your body.
When the stressed gut goes on strike
One would think that the gut plays along patiently when it comes to stress. However, new scientific evidence shows that this isn’t the case. There is a direct connection between the brain and gut; the so-called gut-brain axis. Chronic stress (in technical terms: dystress) can lead to wide ranging inflammation in the gut. Furthermore, it can lead to concentration- and sleep disorders as well as chronic tiredness and abdominal pain – all unwelcome holiday companions. Apart from an optimal supply of vitamins and minerals as well as fibre and sufficient fluid intake to ensure for normal gut function, probiotics have been shown to be beneficial for cognitive fitness and stress resistance. If a probiotic treatment with a quality probiotic preparation from the pharmacy is started early enough before the trip then the protective function of the gut mucosa is improved. Thus, the colonisation with foreign germs and therewith an inflammation of the gut mucosa can be prevented. In this way, even the gut can take a vacation from troublesome complaints.
Contents of your travelling first-aid kit should depend on your destination
This year, Greece is a popular destination for people craving some sun. Spain and Italy, in turn, are profiting from the unstable situation in Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt. It is favourable for Austria’s domestic economy that more and more young people are becoming interested in travelling in their home country. Every travel destination, should be prepared for with an individual travel first-aid kit which also takes all travel companions into account. If one is unsure about what should be packed, it is advisable to ask your pharmacist or a doctor specialising in travel medicine. Tip for the trip: pharmaceuticals should be kept in the carry-on luggage so that they are always close at hand and don’t end up in the freezing cold cargo hold.
Things that shouldn’t be missing from a well sorted travel first-aid kit are substances against travel diarrhoea and constipation. Foreign foods and drinks are full of bacteria which our gut flora isn’t used to. Especially enterobacteria and salmonella can cause complaints ranging from diarrhoea to more serious diseases. When it comes to traveller’s diarrhoea its most important that fluid and electrolyte losses are balanced out (teas, soups, as well as electrolyte and glucose rich products). The German corporation for general medicine has found that probiotics can be useful in treating traveller’s diarrhoea as they can shorten the complaints – not an unimportant factor when on holiday. When the complaints progress quickly and symptoms such as fever or blood in one’s stool arise, it is crucial that one visits a local physician as soon as possible. Constipation is defined as less than 3 bowel movements per week. To pass these it is often necessary to press very hard and the consistency of the stool is hard and clumpy. The causes include eating unfamiliar foods as well as fluid deficits and suppressing the urge to defecate. Drinking a lot, doing exercise, and eating high-fibre foods can ease the complaints. Plant based preparations made from papaya can offer support as they support digestion. If the complaints persist for long periods, are accompanied by pain, or if other heavy symptoms arise one should consult a physician.
A bikini figure is no short-term project
Finally, we would like to talk about the resolution many people may have: to get a good-looking bikini figure. It’s only natural that many strive to lose some kilos before the upcoming beach holiday. One thing is certain: everyone’s body is beautiful and everyone’s body is different. However, if one is generally unhappy with one’s body then a long-term strategy to lose weight makes more sense. Excessive starving before leaving on a holiday can weaken the body. Any good resolutions will at the latest be forgotten when seeing the opulent hotel buffet. That’s also ok, it’s normal that one wants to top off a holiday with some culinary delights. But especially if one just did a diet, the notorious yo-yo effect is predestined. The so-called Firmicutes are responsible for the yo-yo effect. These prehistoric bacteria from our times as hunter-gatherers create fat deposits for times of particular hardship. While back then the “hip gold” was important for survival; nowadays it’s a food overabundance which is causing problems: If there is no balance between the Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes (the counterparts), then the “fattening” bacteria gain the upper hand. Apart from a balanced diet, also here probiotics can help by driving out a surplus of Firmicutes: so that not more food is digested than the body really needs and the holiday can be savoured in full without having a bad conscience.