Travelling can be daunting if you have symptoms of IBS, which can include constipation, bloating, diarrhoea and frequent trips to the bathroom. According to research, IBS affects one in five of us at some point in our livesso if you’re concerned about your IBS affecting your travels, you’re certainly not alone.
“Stress, poor sleep and anxiety can all intensify IBS symptoms and the problem is that travelling can cause all of these factors. For example, poor-quality sleep (anything besides your comfy bed at home is not relaxing enough am I right?) and a flight delay can cause anxiety, or a last-minute change to the trip can cause stress. Holidays should be holidays; so minimising your stress levels is already a big step that will keep your IBS at bay,” explains Francesca Cappozzo, Nutritionist at the new holistic wellness boutique, Maître of Thyme (www.maitreofthyme.com)
We have spoken with our experts for their top tips on how to manage the condition, so that is has less of an affect on your holiday plans
1. Avoid the snooze button in the morning
“Rather than having to rush around in the morning, make sure you have plenty of time to have a proper breakfast and go to the toilet before you head off on your travels. By starting your day in a calmer fashion, it can help you feel more relaxed too,” says Nutritionist Cassandra Barns.
2. Hands off the caffeine!
“Coffee stimulates peristalsis, the wave-like muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract. So with IBS, coffee should be avoided in order to reduce these contractions,” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar marilynglenville.
3. Forgo food intolerances
“About two thirds of patients with IBS have food intolerances therefore try as much as possible to avoid the likes of exotic spicy food, alcohol and any stressors for the body. Choose between low FODMAP foods to reduce symptoms. A recent student from researchers at King’s College London on IBS patients had fantastic results on low FODMAP diets. Gut symptoms improved in 60 -70% of patients after only 4 weeks of the diet.”
4. Fancy a sweet treat? Opt for marshmallows
“Marshmallows contain mucilage which can reduce irritation in the digestive system and can form a protective coating over irritated and inflamed intestinal mucosal membranes, so it is good for all the symptoms associated with IBS,” explains Marilyn.
5. Beat the bloat
“Certain foods such as beans, pulses and root vegetables are notorious for causing bloating and wind. Although these foods are good for you and are low in fat, try and choose salad vegetables such as salad leaves, and tomatoes, which will not make you so bloated,” explains Marilyn.
6. Perk up your gut health with probiotics
“If you are already 99% sure that you absolutely can’t say no to a hangover and a “food coma” on your travels, pack some probiotics and digestive enzymes in your bag. Probiotics are the healthy gut bacteria that seem to improve immune function as well as working wonderfully at keeping the digestive tract working well,” explains Francesca.
“With probiotics, don’t go for the probiotic drinks, as they can be loaded with sugar. Probiotics are better taken as a supplement. Choose one that does not contain maltodextrin but also contains FOS (fructooligosaccharides), which is classed as a prebiotic, which means that the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) use it as a ‘food’ to support their growth. You also want a probiotic that contains at least 22 billion organisms (including both lactobacillus and bifidobacteria strains) and does not have to be refrigerated because the contents are freeze dried, which makes it much more convenient especially when travelling as they can help prevent food poisoning.
7. Help cut the cramps
“Magnesium has been known as ‘natures tranquiliser’ as it helps to relax our muscles and nerves, which can help combat against cramping and constipation. Magnesium increases the water in your intestines, helping to initiate a wave like motion to move fecal matter through the intestines, therefore aiding digestion.
Many of us live hectic, stressful lives, and are more exposed to environmental and food toxins, which can make us more prone to a magnesium deficiency. Try to include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains and bananas in your diet, which are all rich in magnesium.
8. Stay calm with soothing teas
“Make sure that you have enough sleep before travelling and take calming teas with you, such as chamomile, lavender or inhale relaxing rose or lavender essential oils, which can help you relax. Drinking green tea can also be a good contender as it naturally contains a high level of L-theanine, a substance that improves sleep quality and highly promotes relaxation,” explains Francesca.