Traveling to a new country is an exciting adventure, but it can also present challenges to our well-being, particularly when it comes to maintaining a healthy microbiome and supporting colon health. The unfamiliar environment, changes in diet and circadian rhythm, as well as exposure to new bacteria can impact our digestive system. To ensure a happy gut while exploring the world, here are some best practices for microbiome support and colon health during your travels.
- Probiotic Powerhouse:
Start your journey by fortifying your gut with a high-quality probiotics. Probiotics, commonly found in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir, aid in maintaining a balanced gut microbiome. I strongly suggest you opt for local yogurt as soon as you arrive if at all possible. Travel-friendly probiotic capsules are convenient for on-the-go support although I encourage a foods first approach when available. Please bear in mind, not all probiotic supplements are equal. Stay tuned for a future post on this.
- Hydration Heroics:
Staying hydrated is key to overall health, and it plays a crucial role in supporting your colon. Carry a reusable water bottle and make a conscious effort to drink enough potable water, especially in regions with different climates. In areas where the water quality is clear but may be uncertain, consider bringing a UV wand that alerts you when the water in your bottle has been zapped of any potentially harmful microbes.
If you feel like the water is going right through you or if it actually is (such as in Traveler’s diarrhea), consider drinking electrolytes apart from food. Coconut water and bone broth cooked with potatoes may be a great option for restoring your electrolytes.
- Fiber Focus:
Maintain a fiber-rich diet to promote healthy digestion and support your colon. Incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your meals. This not only nourishes your microbiome but also helps prevent constipation, a common issue during travel. While some fibers are technically prebiotics I opted to make prebiotics its own factor here because it is that important (see number 4).
- Prebiotic Prowess:
Foster the growth of beneficial bacteria by including prebiotic-rich foods in your diet. Garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, and bananas are excellent sources of prebiotics, encouraging a flourishing microbiome.
- Mindful Eating:
Being in a new place will also present with it new edible delectables. Ask around and see what the locals in your new environment consume, how they consume it, and what they might consume it with, as you may also be expanding your microbiome profile by doing so. Even though you may be far from home, it may pay off later to remain mindful of your dietary choices. Proceed with caution and gradually introduce new foods to allow your gut to adapt. Opt for balanced meals that include a mix of fiber, healthy fats, and proteins.
- Restorative Sleep:
Quality sleep is a cornerstone of overall well-being, including gut health. Prioritize a consistent sleep schedule, creating a conducive environment for your body to repair and rejuvenate.
- Physical Activity:
Keep your body moving even while on the road. Physical activity supports regular bowel movements and contributes to a healthy gut. Explore the local scenery through walks, hikes, or even a light workout.
- Herbal Assistance:
Incorporate herbal teas known for their digestive benefits, such as peppermint or ginger tea. These can help soothe the digestive system and provide a comforting routine during your travels.
- Stress Management:
Travel can be stressful, and stress can impact your gut health. Practice mindfulness, deep breathing, or meditation to manage stress levels and promote a harmonious balance in your digestive system.
Recreate a routine:
The more you can recreate a similar home routine while you travel, such as when you eat, sleep, and allow time to use the toilet, that in itself can help your body flow and continue daily bowel movements.
Seek Local Guidance:
If you encounter digestive issues, consider seeking advice from local experts or doctors who are familiar with the regional health issues. They can offer valuable insights and recommend products to aid your digestive health.
Embracing these best practices for microbiome support and colon health while traveling will not only enhance your overall well-being but also allow you to fully immerse yourself in the wonders of a new destination. As you explore, remember that a happy gut is the foundation for a happy journey. Safe travels!
Darlene J. Weiss
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The unfamiliar terrain of 2020 has taught us that taking care of our immunity is more important than we previously realized. Today the amount of contradictory information available to us is confusing for anyone beginning their journey to better health. There are so many fad diets, exercise plans, lifestyle changes, and retreat centers we can choose from. As we become more discerning, we recognize a need to blend traditional wisdom with contemporary science.
You might be surprised to learn that the basis of our immune system is in our gut lining. But this is not a new idea; internal cleansing has a long history beginning in ancient Egypt. It was described and recommended in the Ebers Papyrus, from the 14th century BC, as well as in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association written by J. H. Kellogg, MD in 1917 who praised “the procedure’s efficacy for saving a dysfunctional large bowel.”
Folk remedies for colon care, like enemas and colonics and modern advancements, such as Functional Medicine, deserve recognition. Separately they both raise awareness around colon health for optimizing our immune system and general health, but together they can be a winning combination to help people feel better faster as they develop a deeper understanding of what works for them individually. Functional Medicine is on the leading edge of approaches to health and colonics are being integrated in some of the most exclusive wellness retreats and complementary therapy centers worldwide, such as the Absolute Sanctuary in Thailand, the Sea Wellness Clinic in Spain, the Gaia Retreat Center in Bali, and the Mt Rainer Clinic in Washington.
A colonic, aka ‘colon irrigation’ and ‘colon hydrotherapy’ and enemas use water to cleanse and flush out the colon. An enema is not as thorough as a colonic and typically self-administered, whereas a colonic is administered by a professional, and uses a device that allows for the control of the water flow.
Benefits for colonics range from feeling better overall, improved mood, clearer skin, relief of allergies, gas, bloating and constipation, to preparation for a colonoscopy. Stress levels, depression and anxiety can also decrease as gut health improves. Although there are some diagnoses that are not advised to use colonics (such as diverticulitis, Crohn’s Disease, bloody stool, cardiac or renal diseases, and others) a colonic can help you feel good in your body again, especially if your digestion has been less than optimal. You should discuss all health issues with a qualified colon hydrotherapist and your doctor prior to your session.
Although there are many different devices for colon hydrotherapy, the process generally infuses a client’s colon with warm, filtered water to aid in its removal of contents without the use of any toxic agents. In a closed system the client is lying on one side and the same nozzle, with a diameter of about 3/4”, is used to allow for the introduction of water and the disposal of waste with adjustable pressure. In open systems, the client is lying on their back and the nozzle, with the diameter of a pencil, delivers gravity-fed water and the waste is released around the nozzle into a basin. Whereas an open system is a more recent advancement, different people prefer different systems. In both systems it is the client that inserts the nozzle themselves (about 2”) and the colon hydrotherapist moderates the safety and dignity of the client while controlling the flow of water.
In its simplest definition, Functional Medicine is a systematic approach to identifying the root causes of disease rather than merely treating symptoms; it is understood that many diseases are caused by unwise lifestyle and nutritional choices. In Functional Medicine many aspects of health are considered. These include genetics, nutritional and environmental allergies and tolerances, exposure and detoxification of chemicals, heavy metals and molds. It is understood that imbalance in any of these factors can snowball into major health issues. Failing to consider these variables happens often with unfortunate consequences. Functional Medicine practitioners are trained to see them.
Let’s consider food allergies for a moment. Typically, testing looks for an immune response. But there could also be an inflammatory response in the absence of an immune reaction. This is the sort of thing a Functional Medicine practitioner might look for. Complimenting this kind of detective work, a colonic would both improve digestive health and reduce the person’s discomfort. Of course, other healthy lifestyle practices such as chewing food properly, breathing in a relaxed manner, reasonable exercise and adequate sleep are always helpful.
Optimizing our organism’s digestion is an essential first step to ensure our immune system is at its best. Colonics and Functional Medicine work synergistically to not only help us feel better faster and improve the quality of your digestion, they can also optimize your gut health and your immune system for the rest of your days. Then we can feel good in our bodies and enjoy our life!
Darlene J. Weiss
Published in The Union Newspaper
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