By now, you probably know that I’m jet setting to Thailand and Vietnam this weekend for 3 weeks (as I have a tendency to weave it into every conversation I find myself in – sorry about that, by the way). You can also bet that I won’t let you forget when it’s my birthday (It’s March 19, by the way). All childishness aside, this has been a trip I’ve been dreaming up for years.
I must admit though, traveling is slightly different for me now than it used to be. I wasn’t exactly thinking about packing activated charcoal and saccharomyces boulardii in my travel safety kit when I was traveling just 3 years ago. My priorities were more-so focused on surviving yet another pub crawl for the 5th night in a row. Call me a grandma, but my liver and I are really glad those days are behind me. With that said, I still do enjoy the odd beverage once in a while and I am very much looking forward to the varying drool-worthy offerings that the thai/vietnamese culture and cuisine will bring me (did I mention it’s my absolute favourite?!) despite the fact that it will likely differ drastically from my usual kale, quinoa, sweet potato and eggs.
In all honesty, I was initially slightly fearful of straying from my healthified lifestyle for 3 weeks, not to mention, the inevitable gastrointestinal surprises that come from being exposed to different microbes in foods and unpredictable water quality. That was until I realized, I didn’t have to stray far from it all. You see, some people think a “vacation” means they have an excuse to not lead the healthy lifestyle they might embody while at home and as a result, come back more tired and drained than before they left for their trip. But what if we put a genuine effort towards sticking to our healthy habits and living our truth wherever we go? I’m a true believer in doing the absolute best we can whenever we can – that means putting forth an honest effort to stay true to our goals, but it also means enjoying and indulging what the delicious offerings of various cultures without weighing ourselves down with guilt too.
As I’ve been warned with copious amounts of poop stories from Thailand, I put my head together with Dr. Lauren Wedlock Brown and Dr. Laura Smith, the incredible Naturopathic Doctors I will be working alongside at The Root Natural Health Clinic in November and stirred up a holistic travel kit that will keep you feeling your healthy self so you can enjoy your vacation poop-free (sorry, had to go there) and come home feeling even more refreshed!
Holistic Travel Tool Kit
- Saccharomyces Boulardii
This guy isn’t at the top of the list for just any reason. Not only is it a star at slaying traveller’s diarrhea, but it’s also beneficial for building immunity, providing support for antibiotic-related diarrhea, improving intestinal health, digestion and nutrient absorption. While S. Boulardii acts as a probiotic, it’s actually not a bacteria at all, but in fact a non-pathogenic yeast. Similar to a probiotic you might use, it is also helpful in fighting off disease-causing organisms in the gut.
I’m not one to get anxious about the flying part of travel, but I can’t say I’m in love with sitting on my tush in travel for 20+ hours, only to be smacked in the face by jet lag upon your arrival. While our pretty little pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin, which helps to regulate our bodily rhythms, it can also be used to realign our bodily rhythms when they are imbalanced from things like jet lag. Other solutions include limiting your exposure to bright lights during travel (as it interferes with your circadian rhythm), eat meals at the appropriate time of your destination (which airlines tend to do on long flights overseas) and drink plenty of water, even if it means making the dude beside you get up every 20 minutes. It’ll be good for both yours and his circulation!
- Activated Charcoal
By now, you’ve probably sipped on this flavourless detoxifying substance, used it to brush your teeth or made a face mask out of it. Activated Charcoal acts by adsorbing (instead of absorbing) toxins which allow the elements of the foreign bacteria to bind to a surface so they can be eliminated out of the body. With all the new and different bacteria a person encounters while traveling, they’re bound to experience some sort of adverse gastrointestinal effect (and I’ll verify that for you guys in 3 weeks time). Activated Charcoal is great for providing support through this issues, along with flatulence, digestive distress or food poisoning-related symptoms.
Who gets sick for the first time in years just 4 days before going on their 3 week travel adventure? (I’m raising my hand over here but you can’t see it right now). Whether you’re fighting off a sore throat or cold, having an immune-boosting go-to in your holistic tool kit is critical. As a result of having a disrupted circadian rhythm, decreased amount/quality of sleep and a different diet than what we’re used to, our immune system tends to be more compromised while traveling. In comes propolis – the second best thing (other than honey) that comes from bees. It has been described as a “powerful health balm” for it’s antimicrobial properties (anti fungal, anti viral and anti bacterial). It was found that bees living in hives covered with propolis have a “quieter” [read: more well-behaved/tamed] immune systems. Not to mention, it tastes delicious and is both warming and soothing to the throat. Oh, and I’m not paid to say this, but Beekeeper’s Naturals absolutely rules.
We take our MultiVitamin on the daily, why would we stop just because we’re going on vacation? What might not seem like a typical travel supplement is especially important while traveling, where your diet tends to differ than your diet while you’re at home. MultiVitamin’s are super important for filling in the gaps in our diet to make sure all bases are covered to prevent nutritional deficiencies and the ailments that come from that as well. While I might typically invest in a more potent MultiVitamin, through my research I’ve discovered that there’s a possibility they will take your supplements away from you if they deem them to be suspicious for drug trafficking. I didn’t want to be blowing my bank account on all of these beautifully formulated supplements just to have them scooped away from me, so there’s some things I’ve scaled back on or didn’t include at all in this holistic tool kit. I’ll confirm that once I’m back, but please pray to the health God’s that this doesn’t happen to me!
- Ginger Chews/Ginger Tea
You likely know and love ginger if you’ve suffered from any digestive upset before. You may have also used it for things like nausea, cold + flu or even in your cooking to jazz up the flavour in a dish. The bioactive substance within ginger, gingerol, is also known to inhibit the growth of many different kinds of bacteria which can help lower the risk of infections. Given that we’re often hopping from germ-filled planes to motion sick-inducing boat rides to to eating unfamiliar foods while travelling, ginger is one of those things you don’t want to stray too far from.
- Digestive Enzymes
This one came as a recommendation from Dr. Laura Smith (which I seconded – is that even a word?). Digestive Enzymes help us to break down larger molecules into more easily absorbable particles. They contain the enzymes we need to break down carbohydrates, fat and protein which some people struggle with more than others. While I typically lead a whole foods-based, dairy and gluten-free lifestyle while I’m at home, it’s not always guaranteed I’ll be able to do that while traveling (though, as I vowed previously, I will try my absolute best!) In the event where I’m faced with foods that I know might be more difficult to break down or am any sort of digestive distress, digestive enzymes will help to take the stress off the GI tract and help to break down those macronutrients and still allow me to absorb the nutrients from the food I’m eating.What products or supplements do you usually put in your holistic travel tool kit?
P.S: THANK YOU for all of your support, excitement and encouraging words from my practitioner announcement yesterday. If you haven’t yet taken a peek around The Root (where I will be the Holistic Nutritionist come November) and the services I’ll be offering, please feel free to do so over here.