Your Gut Needs a Good Vacation Too!
Even if you are really good about taking care of your gut health most of the time, you may be tempted to lapse into less healthy ways when going on vacation or enjoying special occasions.
Poor gut health can have a huge effect on your overall wellbeing - it can affect your sleep quality and your stress levels. It can even have a negative effect on relationships.
Preparation for good gut health when on your holidays should begin even before you leave home!
Are you feeling stressed?
As well as all the other downsides of stress, it can also badly affect our digestion. Our body and our systems need to rest and digest as when you carry tension and stress with you, it creates a poor digestive environment. In addition, traveling to a vacation destination itself can be stressful. If you have to spend time in line for example, do some breathing exercises. Your gut will be thankful for the de-stress. These exercises will be helpful because our vagus nerve (part of the vital gut-brain axis) has nerve endings all along the gut wall. These will be encouraged to work well with simple daily relaxation exercises. In addition to deep breathing, try listening to music or meditate.
Are you eating for your gut health?
A plant based diet is great for nurturing your gut health including spices and herbs, fruit and veggies as well as beans, lentils and chickpeas, nuts, seeds and grains. In addition, fermented foods such as kefir or live yogurt will be good too. Remember that most of our immune system can be found within our gut wall so if you can build up resistance, this will protect you from vacation bugs too.
Are you getting into good habits?
Of course good quality sleep is one of those vital habits. And if you have managed to build up a successful sleep regimen, then make sure to keep it up while on vacation.
Are you drinking plenty of water?
Drinking plenty of liquids but especially water is even more important if you vacationing in a hot place. It also helps to support your immune system. Always have plenty of water available when flying - and when out and about. If you are flying, changes in the air pressure can alter water balance between the tissues in the body. This can lead to bloating or swelling and even make the gut medium more watery. Including plenty of fiber in your diet will help to absorb extra water, preventing excessive bowel movements.
Are you taking it easy with the alcohol?
On the subject of water balance when flying (as in the paragraph above), this can also be affected by alcohol which is something to consider. Once you have got to your destination, having a glass or two of wine each day will not cause too much harm but try to avoid any over indulging! The problem is that wine contains sulfites which can upset your beneficial gut bacteria but on the plus side red wine is rich in polyphenols much loved by your gut.
Are you fasting for twelve hours overnight?
This is one of the easiest ways to fast as you make sure to allow twelve hours between dinner or supper the night before and breakfast the next morning. And going twelve hours without food is friendly to your gut. A good way to break the fast is with the Mediterranean diet - high in fish, colorful fruit and vegetables along with olive oil - which is renowned for being a gut healthy choice.
Are you keeping up your vitamin D levels?
Being on vacation is the perfect opportunity to increase your vitamin D levels but of course this should be in a safe way. Ideally, spend up to twenty minutes or until your skin starts to turn a light shade of pink in the sun between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm with as much skin exposed as possible and without any sun block every day. Once you have had enough sun exposure, cover up and wear a big hat to protect your face. If you prefer to use a sun block, then choose a natural one.
If you can make the effort to keep up your healthy habits while on holiday as well as avoiding any excesses, you gut will repay you one hundredfold.
Alvaro et al. (2009). Composition and metabolism of the intestinal microbiota in consumers and non-consumers of yogurt. DOI:
10.1017/S0007114507243065. (Accessed, 2 October 2021).
Brown K, et al (2012). Diet-induced dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiota and the effects on immunity and disease. DOI:
10.3390/nu4081095. (Accessed, 2 October 2021).