There’s something about removing ourselves from our usual surroundings and becoming immersed in an entirely different way of life. A significant part of the sensory experience of traveling is sampling all the culinary offerings that we and our guts aren’t used to.
Really, it’s all fun and games and delicious tastings—until it isn’t. If you’ve ever experienced stomach upset abroad, there’s a good chance it was because your gut was responding to foreign bacteria. Let’s explore what happens to your gut when you indulge in international foods.
Your Gut Abroad
A study published by Cell, mentions that diet and geographical environment are two critical components in the makeup of the bacterial microbiome structure and function of the gut.
While long-term diet is what tends to affect the gut predominantly, the digestive system is armed to respond to significant diet changes quickly. While traveling, your gut is exposed to all new varieties of bacteria, as well as other factors like stress that can affect how it operates.
While stomach upset is likely the quickest indication of an imbalanced gut from travel, there are other ways our body tends to respond. The microorganisms in our guts are also responsible for aiding our immune system, as well as influencing our mental health. That said, the onset of other illnesses and changes in mood or disposition can occur when introducing ethnic cuisine to the gut.
Researchers are beginning to find that deviations in the gut microbiome have been linked to chronic disease. While there is a debate on cause and effect, there is evidence that, in many cases, migration to another country to live or travel can cause considerable change to the gut. This change can create a higher susceptibility to developing diseases.
Because we prefer, desire, and need the flexibility to travel without experiencing such complications, the demand for a solution to combating the effects of our gut’s sensitivity is crucial. It’s possible that ensuring to regulate and prime the gut to take on new bacteria could be the solution to preventing the harmful effects of introducing new bacteria.
With this, probiotics designed explicitly with travel and environmental factors in mind may be our best bet to ensuring the safety and regularity of our guts. Reach out to your health care provider to see the best probiotic strands to take before your next travel adventure.