Should you take probiotics for traveling abroad?
Discover the benefit of probiotics for travelling abroad
In today’s fast-paced world, with our on-the-go lifestyle, maintaining optimal gut health can be a challenge. Especially when travelling abroad for a much needed holiday or important business meeting. Above all, improving gut health should be easy, effective and fit into busy schedules. As a result, we’re increasingly looking to the benefit of probiotics for optimal gut health, immunity and well-being. Join us as we examine what the science says about the best probiotics for traveling abroad, as well as general gut health!
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What‘s the benefit of probiotics?
Gut health plays a crucial role in our overall health. In fact, it is increasingly recognized as a key factor in maintaining both physical and mental well-being.
So, what’s the potential benefit of probiotics? Probiotics, often referred to as ‘good bacteria’, are live microorganisms that can provide a wide range of health benefits, if consumed in the right amount.
These beneficial bacteria help maintain a healthy balance in our gut and influence digestion, nutrient absorption, plus immunity. Other benefits include mood, sleep and skin health (to name a few!).
Here we’ll take a closer look at the potential benefit of probiotics to help you make informed choices about the best probiotics for travel and general gut health.
The role of probiotics in gut health
Probiotics work to restore and maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, known as your gut microbiome. They help improve digestion, enhance nutrient absorption, support immunity, mood and more!
Additionally, probiotics help prevent overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut, reducing the risk of digestive issues like diarrhoea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They may also play a role in easing the symptoms of certain gastrointestinal conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The potential benefits of probiotics for traveling abroad
Travelling can disrupt digestion due to changes in diet, water quality, and exposure to unfamiliar bacteria. This can lead to common travel-related gut issues, such as bloating and traveler’s diarrhoea.
By incorporating probiotics into your travel routine, you can support your gut health and minimize the risk of these issues. Probiotics help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut, boosting your immune system and increasing your resistance to harmful germs you may encounter while traveling.
Furthermore, probiotics have been found to have a positive impact on other travel-related issues. For instance, studies reveal the potential benefit of probiotics for travelling, helping reduce the risk of respiratory infections, such as the common cold.
Part of the problem is that during travel we’re close to lots of other people and strangers, and we’re exposed to different environments and new types of germs.
One possible benefit of probiotics for travel is some protection from food-related issues. For example, probiotics may help strengthen the gut barrier, making it more difficult for harmful bacteria to invade and cause infections. This can be particularly helpful when visiting countries with different food safety standards and practices.
Jetlag and probiotics for traveling abroad
In addition to their immune-boosting properties, there is some evidence to suggest probiotics may help with jet lag. Jet lag can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, and digestive disturbances.
While there are no studies specifically investigating the effects of probiotics on jet lag, some research has shown that prebiotics, which serve as food for beneficial gut bacteria, can promote resilience to body-clock disruptions from things like jet lag.
Additionally, a healthy gut supports a healthy brain, and research shows that it’s important to offset the impact of jet lag on our gut bacteria.
Probiotics have been shown to help regulate our sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm (the natural patterns of physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle). This in turn could potentially reduce the severity and duration of jet lag symptoms.
Certainly, scientists looking at the best probiotics for sleep confirm the potential benefit of probiotics for better sleep. Although it should be noted, this only applies to specific strains or types of probiotic for sleep.
Whether you choose to eat probiotic-rich foods or take proiotic supplements, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage and strain of probiotics for your specific needs.
Choosing the best probiotics for traveling abroad
With so many probiotic products available on the market, choosing the right one for your specific needs can be overwhelming. However, by considering a few important factors, it is easier to make an informed decision.
Factors to consider when selecting probiotics for traveling abroad
Strain diversity: Look for probiotic products that contain a variety of strains, as different strains offer different health benefits. Aim for a broad-spectrum probiotic that includes strains such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium as well as Saccharomyces boulardii.
Research suggests that a diverse range of probiotic strains may be more effective in supporting gut health. Each strain has its own unique characteristics and functions, so opting for a product with multiple strains can provide a wider range of benefits.
Colony Forming Units (CFUs): CFUs indicate the number of live bacteria in a probiotic product. Higher CFU counts generally indicate a more powerful and effective product. Look for products with CFU counts of at least 10 billion.
However, it is important to note that higher CFU counts may not always translate to better results, as individual responses to probiotics can vary.
Storage: Do check storage requirements. The best probiotics for travelling won’t need to be refrigerated, they’ll cope with different climates and may be taken with other common travel meds. Do check the label and consult a healthcare professional as needed.
Also bear in mind there is a chance that probiotic supplements can cause stomach ache, bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation, especially during the first few days of use. These side effects are usually mild and go away as the body gets used to the probiotics.
To reduce the likelihood of side effects, it is recommended to start with a low dose of probiotics and slowly increase to the full dosage. Consider starting your probiotics before you travel.
3 probiotic strains and their specific benefits
1. Lactobacillus acidophilus: This strain helps maintain healthy digestion and supports the immune system.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is one of the most well-known and extensively studied probiotic strains. It is commonly found in yogurt and other fermented foods. This strain has been shown to promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, improve digestion, and boost immunity.
2. Bifidobacterium longum: Known for promoting the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome, and therefore better gut health.
Additionally, Bifidobacterium lactis is another commonly used probiotic strain. It has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and promote regular bowel movements. This strain may also have a positive impact on gut health by reducing bloating and improving overall digestive comfort.
3. Saccharomyces boulardii: Saccharomyces boulardii is a unique probiotic strain that is actually a yeast, not a bacteria. It has been extensively studied for its ability to prevent and treat diarrhoea. Saccharomyces boulardii can help to prevent or treat diarrhoea, especially when traveling abroad. It can also support the health of your gut microbiome and immune system.
This strain works by restoring the balance of gut bacteria and supporting the integrity of the intestinal lining.
An important benefit, especially when traveling, is that Saccharomyces boulardii is temperature intolerant and does not need refrigeration, so it can easily mixed with food and beverages, and its easier for transport.
Consult with a healthcare professional if necessary, to help select the most appropriate probiotic strain and dosage for your individual needs.
Which probiotics for travelling abroad
Below we’ll look at the best probiotics for travelling abroad and how to prevent travel-related stomach issues. You’ll find these probiotic bacteria (and yeast!) in these products:
OptiBac Travel Abroad Probiotic
OptiBac Travel Abroad Probiotic contains Saccharomyces boulardii, a yeast-based probiotic that can prevent traveler’s diarrhea.
In addition, it contains Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52. Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52 may help support digestive health by promoting a balanced gut microbiome. It can contribute to the breakdown of food and the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract.
As noted above, Bifidobacterium longum may be a beneficial probiotic for traveling abroad. Bifidobacterium longum Rosell-175 may help support digestive health by promoting the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiota.
Optibac note that its Travel Abroad probiotic is “suitable alongside travel medications and for a range of climate conditions”.
Viridian Travel Biotic
Viridian Travel Biotic contains Saccharomyces boulardii, which has been shown to help prevent traveler’s diarrhea.
Travel Biotic is formulated by nutritionists and provides a unique type of friendly yeast, Saccharomyces boulardii, in a one-a-day capsule. Because it is heat resistant there is no need to refrigerate, making it a convenient probiotic for travel. .
Healthnews recommend FutureKind. They highlight its “impressive mix of probiotic strains — including Lactobacillus rhamnosus known for its efficacy against traveler’s diarrhea — it ensures gut health during trips. Its 30 billion CFU potency may offer a robust defense against unfamiliar food and waterborne pathogens”.
Your gut health while traveling
When traveling, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy diet and routine. However, there are simple tips you can follow to ensure that your gut health remains a priority.
Tips for taking probiotics while on the go
1. How to pack probiotic supplements: Consider packing probiotic supplements in a travel-friendly container to ensure you have a convenient supply throughout your trip.
2. Keep probiotic-rich snacks handy: Opt for easy-to-pack snacks like yogurt cups or probiotic granola bars, which provide a delicious and nutritious way to maintain your probiotic intake.
3. Drink kefir: Kefir travels well and whilst it’s not a studied probiotic for traveling abroad, as such, it may boost your general gut health. A high quality kefir should be low in sugar and without artificial additives, such as the top kefir brands listed here.
Overcoming common travel-related gut issues with probiotics
In addition to incorporating probiotics into your routine, there are other steps you can take to prevent and overcome travel-related gut issues.
Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps maintain digestive regularity and prevents dehydration, a common travel-related issue.
Eat mindfully: Be cautious of consuming street food and raw or undercooked ingredients, as they may increase the risk of foodborne illnesses.
Practice good hygiene: Regularly wash your hands with soap and water to minimize the risk of infection from harmful bacteria.
Manage stress: Try to avoid excessive stress, as it can disrupt the equilibrium in your gut and contribute to digestive problems.
Incorporating probiotics into your daily routine
In addition to taking probiotic supplements, you can incorporate probiotic-rich foods into your diet to support your gut health, in advance and while travelling.
Probiotic-rich foods for a healthy gut
Yogurt: Choose plain, unsweetened yogurt with live and active cultures to reap the full benefits of probiotics.
Kefir: Kefir is a fermented milk drink that contains multiple strains of probiotics and is often well-tolerated by individuals who are lactose intolerant.
Sauerkraut: This fermented cabbage is an excellent source of probiotics and can be enjoyed as a side dish or added to sandwiches and salads.
Probiotic supplements: what you need to know
While probiotic-rich foods are a great addition to your diet, supplements can provide a more concentrated and targeted approach to support your gut health. When considering probiotic supplements:
- Choose a reputable brand that ensures the quality and potency of their products through independent testing
- Check the expiration date and storage instructions to ensure the viability of the live bacteria
- Consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice, especially if you have specific digestive concerns or are on medication
Debunking common myths about probiotics …
1. Myth: All probiotics are the same – While probiotics have similar benefits, different strains and formulations can provide varying specific health benefits.
2. Myth: Probiotics need to be refrigerated – While some probiotics require refrigeration, many shelf-stable options are available and maintain their potency at room temperature. Choose probiotics that can handle heat and humidity for travelling.
Expert advice on probiotics and gut health
When it comes to gut health and the role of probiotics, experts agree that a well-balanced diet, regular physical activity, and stress management are equally important.
Consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to develop an individualized approach to support your gut health.
By discovering and incorporating the best probiotics for gut health into your daily routine, you can optimize your digestion, support your immune system, and enjoy better overall well-being – even when travelling.
FAQs: Common questions about the benefit of probiotics for travel
Can probiotics cause any side effects when traveling?
Yes, while probiotics are generally considered safe and beneficial, they can cause side effects, especially when starting a new regimen during travel, according to Healthnews. They advise that some individuals may experience:
- Digestive symptoms. Initially, as the gut flora adjusts, some people might face bloating, gas, or mild stomach upsets.
- Headaches. Certain probiotic strains produce amines, which in sensitive individuals can trigger headaches or migraines.
- Increased risk of infection. Immunocompromised travelers might face a heightened risk of infections from probiotic bacteria.
- Adverse interactions. Probiotics can interfere with certain medications like immunosuppressants, antibiotics, or anti-fungal drugs, impacting their efficacy.
- Over-stimulation of the immune system. In rare cases, some might experience an immune system reaction.
It’s essential to choose the best probiotics for travel, starting with a lower dose and monitoring any adverse reactions.
How should probiotics be stored while travelling?
Proper storage is important for maintaining the effectiveness of probiotics. The best probiotics for travelling abroad will be suitable for a range of climates and won’t need refrigeration.
Are there natural sources of probiotics I can eat while traveling?
In addition to supplements, if you’re travelling you might want to incorporate probiotics into your diet with foods like yogurt, kefir milk, or fermented vegetables.
When should I take probiotics for travel?
Is it best to take travel probiotics before, during, or after the trip?
Taking probiotics for travel can be a game-changer for digestive health, but timing and dosage are crucial.
- Begin taking your chosen probiotic a few weeks before departure
- Consistency is key. Continue the same dosage throughout your journey
- Continue taking the probiotic for a few weeks post-travel. Your body might still be adjusting to the return, so this can help a smoother transition back to your routine
What is the best probiotic to prevent traveler’s diarrhea?
A final note
Do consider asking a travel healthcare expert for advice, tailored to your specific destination. After all, nothing disrupts your travel as a dodgy tummy!
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