A little bit about me...
I have a long history of dealing with IBS-C symptoms while travelling. For a large part of my life going on weekend trips and longer vacations was dreadful. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy myself because my gut was going to be in shambles for the entire trip (constipation, bloating/food reactions, and more). I experienced this for many many years, but the more that I continued to work on my gut health and nervous system, this slowly started to get better. Now I barely deal with any digestive symptoms when I am on vacation/travelling and I can pass bowel movements, which is honestly something I thought I would never be able to do. I wanted to share this with you so that you know healing is possible. I now have a digestive support toolkit that I keep handy in case I need it, such as if I experience the odd bout of bloating or constipation on a trip.
If you are in the heart of your gut healing journey and you are not quite at the finish line like I am, I wanted to provide you with some tips for how to optimize your digestion while you are travelling/on vacation. The majority of these recommendations have a focus towards supporting IBS-C (constipation).
How to support your digestion while you travel
Bring digestive supports and bowel movers! Below are a few of my favourite supplements, included in my digestive support tool kit.
What are they?
Digestive enzymes are produced by the body and their role is to assist with breaking down food into the appropriate size so that the nutrients within the food can be absorbed/utilized by the body. A few examples of the main types of digestive enzymes are amylase, lipase, and protease.
Digestive enzymes can become depleted, which prohibits the bodies ability to digest food properly, and this can lead to a whole host of uncomfortable symptoms, gut dysbiosis, and candida overgrowth. I see low enzyme secretion in digestive insufficiency dysbiosis, a common pattern I see on many clients GI-MAP stool tests.
How can digestive enzymes be of support to you during your travels?
If you are dealing with food sensitivities and bloating, digestive enzymes can be a great support. As I mentioned above, they help to ensure that all the food gets broken down, assisting with nutrient absorption, but this also helps to reduce inflammation and undigested food in the microbiome, which in turn reduces immune system reactions to food (reduces symptoms of food sensitivity).
What is the best type of digestive enzyme to buy?
Enzymes are typically derived from both plant and animal sources. Plant enzymes are preferred for helping you digest your food. This is because they have a broad PH range, working in both acid and alkaline environments.
To support digestion, enzymes are taken with food.
A few of my favourite brands include Digestive Enzymes Ultra from Pure Encapsulations, Digest Gold from Enzymedica, and Daily Maintenance from Flora.
When I travel, I like to bring ginger in both tea and capsule form. My favourite ginger tea is the one from Traditional Medicinals, for capsules I love the Ginger SAP from NFH.
Ginger is anti inflammatory, antispasmodic, and anti-nausea. It is considered a prokinetic, meaning it supports GI motility. It can also help with minimizing gas, bloating, abdominal cramping, and nausea.
Ginger SAP can be taken daily in between meals or as needed to support digestive symptoms post eating.
Magnesium is an extremely common nutrient deficiency. It has become increasingly difficult to obtain the RDA of magnesium through diet due to soil depletion. Magnesium also gets depleted very quickly when under stress. Stress and low magnesium levels increases the likelihood of someone also becoming constipated.
Magnesium is considered an anti-stress mineral because it functions to relax skeletal muscles, smooth muscles of blood vessels, and the GI tract. As well as has a calming effect on the nervous system. Magnesium also plays a role in protein and carbohydrate metabolism, and can act as a natural stool softener.
There are many different types of magnesium, and the type that you choose depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Magnesium glycinate, bisglycinate or bicarbonate are some of the most bioavailable forms of magnesium, meaning easiest to absorb. These forms of magnesium are great for supporting a restful sleep, the stress response, and the nervous system.
Magnesium citrate is best used for constipation as its absorption rate is 50/50. It works by drawing water to the bowels, which softens stool and allows it to move through the GI tract gently. As a general rule of thumb, you can take up to 5x your body weight in magnesium as a therapeutic dose (ie if you weigh 130 pounds: 130x5= 650mg of magnesium) or until bowel tolerance (loose stool).
A few of my favourite brands include Magnesium Bisglycinate from CanPrev, Magnesium Glycinate from Pure Encapsulations, Magnesium Citrate from Natural Factors, and Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate Powder.
My favourite product is the Bowel Mover from Cellcore Biosciences. Their Bowel Mover is a natural digestive aid, which functions to gently promote bowel movements, peristalsis, digestion, and intestinal health. It is not like other laxative supplements as it is not irritating to the bowels and it is not habit forming. It encourages soft stools that are easy and comfortable to eliminate. It contains twelve herbs and botanicals, such as clove bud, fennel seed, garlic bulb, senna leaf, and wormwood.
If I experience constipation while travelling I will pair the bowel mover with magnesium, and I take them both before bed time. I have found an amount of each that works best for my bowels.
You can only order Cellcore products through a qualified practitioner. If you are interested in purchasing this product, feel free to contact me.
DGL stands for Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Root. DGL is a demulcent herb, meaning it functions to soothe and coat mucosal linings. DGL protects the stomach and esophageal lining by stimulating mucous formation and secretion. It may be helpful for alleviating inflammation in the GI tract, and combatting symptoms of indigestion (heartburn, reflux, belching, etc).
My favourite brand of DGL is Natural Factors. It comes in chewable tablets that can be taken before or after eating.
Probiotics are a great support for both digestion and the immune system, which can both take a hit from travelling. There are numerous probiotic strains and they all have unique functions so it's always best to be intentional about what you are looking for to ensure optimal results.
When you are looking for a probiotic to bring while travelling, you want to make sure that it is shelf stable so that the bacteria can survive throughout your travels.
My favourite probiotic to bring while travelling is HMF Travel from Genestra. Below is a brief overview of the strains and their functions:
Lactobacillus acidophilus: this strain can support immunity and replace beneficial intestinal flora that have been displaced or destroyed by antibiotics, anti-fungals/antimicrobials, candida (yeast) infections or diarrhea.
Saccharomyces boulardii: a probiotic strain derived from yeast that functions to kill pathogens in the gut. It is very effective against virulent Candida Albicans, prohibiting them from colonizing in the gut. S. Boulardii also strengthens intestinal barrier function, supports immune function, and fights travellers diarrhea/loose stool.
Bifidobacterium bifidum: supports the large bowel for regularity.
Travelling contributes to dehydration. Adding electrolytes/trace minerals to your water is the most optimal way to stay hydrated. In order for your cells to absorb water you drink, you need minerals! When you drink plain water this flushes out your minerals.
Electrolytes function to conduct electricity and they regulate water balance in the body. The balance between electrolytes is required for bowel motility, one of the reasons being, all muscles need water and electricity in order to function. Therefore, if you are struggling with slow motility and constipation, addressing mineral/electrolyte balance can make a huge impact on improving your motility and bowel movements.
My favourite electrolyte/trace mineral product is Aussie Trace Minerals. You can have 10 - 20 drops 2x daily. I highly recommend consuming 10 drops 3 - 4 x daily, in a big glass of water, sipped gradually throughout the day vs. adding to a small glass and shooting it back (this can upset digestion). They do have a sea salty taste to them at first, but it gets better with continued use.
If you are interested in getting these, you can order them from the companies website.
You can use coupon code: MARISARICCI10 to get a 10% discount on your order. I make commission on these sales so if you decide to order through me you would be supporting my small business.
Wondering where to buy supplements?
I have a few online supplement dispensaries with Fullscript. If you create an account with me you get access to high quality supplements with a discount. The shipping rates and length of time for delivery are very reasonable and their customer service is great as well.
Sign up for my Canadian Fullscript supplement dispensary here.
Sign up for my American Fullscript supplement dispensary here.
*I do not make commission from the American one, but I do through the Canadian one, so if you decide to order supplements through the Canadian dispensary you would be supporting my small business.
Always check with your Doctor or Health Practitioner before implementing new supplements into your regime. It is important to ensure that the supplements are safe and right for you.
Lifestyle support for travelling
Use a potty stool to prevent or support constipation
I highly recommend making a potty stool to use in the hotel room. I usually take the garbage bag outside of the can and flip it upside down so I can gently rest my feet on top. This helps to ensure your body is in the proper position to have a bowel movement. The upper body should be slightly hinged forward and the feet should be elevated. If you feel like there is some stuck stool, it can also help to rock back and forth on the toilet to get the rest out.
Move your body
Motility is more likely to slow down if you remain sedentary. Try to get outside for a short walk everyday while you are on vacation. If there is somewhere you plan to go for coffee, out to eat, or to run an errand, try to find a place within walking distance so that you can get some steps in.
Another great option would be to do a short yoga sequence. I highly recommend checking out Yoga with Adrienne, she has a ton of free YouTube videos to choose from. Here is a 14 minute yoga for digestion: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=hbguV_f6XOo&ab_channel=YogaWithAdriene
Create a morning routine
Our bowels are more likely to release when we have a calm morning. Consider waking up a bit earlier and sourcing out some lemons so you can make a hot water with lemon, as well as have a glass of water with electrolytes. Lemons are a natural stimulant, making them one of the best ways to stimulate your bowels first thing in the morning. See if you can go outside for a brisk walk or engage in some other kind of mindfulness activity while you have your lemon water and hydrate.
Incorporate fiber where you can!
When you go out to eat, try to opt for meals that have a source of fiber (vegetables like leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, etc). If there aren’t a ton of options, you can always ask for a side of steamed veggies or a side salad.
You can also bring clean oatmeal packets with you and put together a healthy breakfast in your hotel room or air b&b. Here is a link to check out: https://www.naturespath.com/en-ca/products/natures-path-foods/original-oatmeal/
You can check to see if there is a store near you where you can get some healthy toppings like berries, banana, nuts/seeds or nut/seed butters, etc.
Work on mindset shifts, if needed
If you’ve always gotten constipated when you travel, it’s easy to just automatically assume/think/believe this is going to continue happening for you. But if you’ve been putting in the work to rebalance your digestion and nervous system, it’s time to change this thought process. The gut brain connection is incredibly strong so if we believe something to be true, it’s more likely to happen. Practice positive affirmations regarding your digestion and if a negative thought arises, practice shifting into a positive alternative response. For example "I am capable of having bowel movements while traveling". Even if you don't believe it, just try your best to work on it.
If you have been dealing IBS-C and are looking for more personalized support, let's chat! In my nutrition practice, I create custom wellness programs for my clients. When you work with me 1:1, you'll receive custom protocols, with diet, supplement, and lifestyle recommendations. I also offer meal plans, chat support, and plenty of in depth handouts to support your healing. If you are not sure if candida is at the root of your GI issues and you'd like to dive deeper into what is going on, I offer functional testing in my practice as well.
If you'd like to learn more about my services, you can book in for a complimentary discovery call here. In this session we can chat more about your health concerns and goals, I can share more details about my services, and together we can decide if we would be a good fit to work together.
Check out what past clients have had to say about working with me here.