Ask Alina: How Do I Prevent Food Poisoning When Travelling?

Q: I’m travelling to Mexico in a few weeks, and I’m worried about getting an upset stomach. This happens to me a lot when I go on vacation…I tried probiotics once, but that didn’t really work. Is there something else I can try? – Lynn S.

A: Yes, there’s definitely more you can do to prevent and manage symptoms of an upset stomach while abroad. First of all, probiotics are excellent for building up gut’s defences, but it depends on when you take them, for how long and what type as well.

Probiotics will work better when you start taking them well in advance, approximately 3-4 weeks beforehand and on a regular basis. Also, a multi-strain probiotic that is at least 10 billion would be a good starting point. There’s also a probiotic strain in particular that’s excellent for preventing travellers’ diarrhea, called Saccharomyces boulardii, so try to make sure that’s included in your probiotic, or take it in addition to your regular one.

Secondly, consider boosting your stomach acid. Hydrochloric acid, or stomach acid, plays the role of sterilizing pathogens in our food to avoid infections and food poisoning. If you have chronically low stomach acid, you may be more prone to getting sick when abroad. You can read more about the stomach acid test here.

Third, be mindful of the type of food you eat while abroad. Stick to mineral water and opt for cooked food as much as possible. Although raw fruits and vegetables are generally a healthy option, they’re also more likely to get contaminated. Unless you’re washing or peeling them yourself, skip it.

From a treatment perspective, my go-to are herbal teas. In particular, chamomile works wonders for mild food poisoning, cramps and diarrhea. Ginger is excellent for nausea, and peppermint for excessive bloating and gas. You can read more about herbal teas for indigestion here.

Lastly, you can read more about how to stay healthy during a vacation here, where I outline my must-haves when travelling abroad.


About Alina

I'm a Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto, Canada and my official title is Certified Nutritional Practitioner (CNP). I received my diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. I'm a coach and an educator. Follow Alina on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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