How to keep your gut healthy in summer
Summer, sun, sunshine – bliss, right? Yes, if you take the special features of the hot season into account. For a healthy intestine, it is essential to stay hydrated, and to prepare your gut before heading on you holiday against the attack of germs. To do so, it is recommended to take probiotics before and during the holiday abroad, to be protected by strengthening the immune system.
The best time of year to be outside is in the sunny season. However, pathogenic germs multiply rapidly, especially in warm weather, and the consequences can spoil the feeling of bliss. To avoid unpleasant typical holiday health issues such as stomach aches, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting and to be able to enjoy the summer in good health, it is advisable to take a few measures to prepare yourself before the holiday!
Strengthen your immune system for summer
The key to a resistant body is a strengthened immune system, a large part of which is located in the intestine. With regular exercise and a balanced diet, the body’s own defence against unwanted invaders also stays fit.
Plant foods such as broccoli, fresh berries, oranges, ginger, onions and nuts strengthen the body’s defences thanks to their vitamins and antioxidants. To prevent summer flu – which is actually a flu-like infection – four golden rules should be followed:
- Wash your hands regularly, as the pathogens of summer flu are preferably transmitted by shaking hands.
- In buildings, do not run the air conditioning at full blast all the time, but ventilate rooms well early in the morning and late in the evening.
- In the car, use the air conditioning moderately instead of exposing yourself to draughts with the windows open.
- Drink enough to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Stay hydrated this summer!
A balanced electrolyte balance is extremely important not only for the intestines, but also for the rest of the human body. Sweating due to high temperatures causes the body to lose sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium as well as water. Therefore, it is recommended to drink at least 1.5 litres of water per day, and definitely more on hot days! If you like to do sports in summer, you should “season” water with a pinch of salt (= sodium) per litre of water during light training sessions. For intensive training, it is ideal to consume 250 ml of water every 20 minutes and add 60-80 g of carbohydrates, e.g. maltodextrin, to the drink.
To avoid unpleasant typical travel related issues such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, it is advisable to take some measures to prepare your body beforehand.
Ambitious barbecue chefs often forget that germs such as salmonella and campylobacter are in rife season in summer. The bacteria feel most at home on perishable foods, such as raw meat and sausages, seafood, eggs and dairy products.
But germs can also colonise salads and raw vegetables and cause problems for the gastrointestinal tract. If the digestive problems last longer than three days, a doctor should be consulted. This is especially true if symptoms such as fever or blood in the stool occur or if older people and children are affected. A doctor can initiate the right treatment quickly and in a targeted manner.
Wash your hands after preparing meat so that no germs are transferred to the other grilled food. Do not expose meat to the sun for too long before grilling, and do not eat meat half-cooked. Wash salads and vegetables thoroughly with water.
Common holiday health issues
In a familiar environment, bacteria can be reduced with simple tricks. However, this is not the case when travelling to foreign countries. Not only can the spectrum of pathogens be different there, but it is also difficult to control the preparation of food in a hotel or a local restaurant. Added to this are contaminated drinking water and bacterial agglomerations such as the swimming pool.
If you take to heart the frequently quoted guiding principle “Cook it, peel it, boil it or leave it”, many unpleasant surprises, such as travellers’ diarrhoea, can be averted. It is therefore important to avoid raw and half-cooked food as well as ice cubes.
Prebiotics and probiotics can strengthen the resistance of the immune system by serving as food for the health-promoting intestinal bacteria (prebiotics) and increasing their diversity through targeted administration (probiotics).