Getting away for a much needed vacation is the highlight of many people’s summer, but unwittingly being exposed to toxic invaders can leave you with a ruined trip and a problem that follows you home. You’re not a party pooper if you take precautions—you’re a smart traveler.
I have literally counseled hundreds of people who have never been “quite right” after a vacation to an exotic locale, the islands, the mountains, a camp out, or even a roadtrip. In order to avoid GI distress and discomfort, constipation, or diarrhea, it’s important to know where to eat, what to eat, and what to drink.
Make sure foods are properly handled; especially salsa and dips, and that they are kept at the proper temperature. Leaving food out too long at room temperature can cause nasty bacteria like Staph, Salmonella and E. coli to grow to dangerous levels. If the temperature is above 90 degrees, food should not be left out more than one hour. If you are traveling with cold food, bring a cooler full of ice or frozen gel packs, and if you’re cooking, use a hot campfire or portable stove.
Drink filtered water whenever you can. Bottled water may be easiest to grab on-the-go, but it’s not always your best bet. According to a four-year review by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an estimated 25% or more bottled water brands are merely tap water in a bottle (sometimes with further treatment, sometimes without). If at all possible, take a portable travel filter with you to ensure safe, clean water no matter where you are!
Also, go easy on the ice—a study at the University of South Florida found that 36% of packaged ice from convenience stores, gas stations and supermarkets were contaminated with E. coli, mold or yeast and did not meet EPA drinking water standards. Watch my recent interview with water quality expert Dr. Roy Speiser to learn more about safe drinking water.
Be Proactive with Probiotics
Whether you’re headed somewhere exotic, or staying close to home, it’s always a smart idea to load up with plenty of probiotics to help your system neutralize superbugs. Probiotics, the good bacteria, inhabit the walls of the small intestine and colon, fortifying them and making it harder for pathogenic bugs to take root. One to two teaspoons a day of Flora-Key—which now contains the gas-fighting L. plantarum flora, is recommended on a daily basis. Mild enough for children, this dairy-free probiotic alternative doubles as a natural sweetener in no-heat recipes.
Don’t let a fun-filled getaway turn into a microscopic nightmare. Implement these tips—as well as general hygiene and hand washing—for stress-free fun in the sun!
What food and water safety precautions do you take when you’re traveling? Post a comment to share.