Probiotics and travel tummy

- Part 1 of the 'Benefits Of Probiotics' Series - Travellers Diarrhoea

Nothing can ruin your holiday more (except maybe bad weather!) than a dodgy stomach or travellers diarrhoea. From sickness and diarrhoea to cramps and bloating, these common irritating ailments are enough to put anyone off their afternoon sangria in the sun. That’s why we’ve put together a few travel tips to keep your gut in good health this summer.


Probiotics And Travellers Diarrhoea

These little “friendly bacteria” help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut. Probiotics boost the immune system and help fight off harmful bacteria; they also possess anti-inflammatory properties and can strengthen the lining of the intestine – this prevents toxins entering your blood (known as “leaky gut” syndrome). Research has shown probiotics to be beneficial for those suffering with gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, diarrhoea, and more recently, for endurance athletes. In one meta-analysis, 85% of cases of traveller’s diarrhoea (travel tummy) were prevented with probiotic supplementation[1] and they have demonstrated high efficacy in children[2].

Many strains of probiotics exist; we recommend Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium – begin taking 2 days before travel and continue daily until you return.

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Stay Hydrated

The human body contains up to 65% water to function at its best, so it’s important to stay hydrated. In severe cases, dehydration can be fatal – even mild dehydration can cause muscle weakness, confusion, headache, irritability, and cramps – just to list a few! Aim to drink 2 litres of fluids a day (cordial, tea, and coffee all count) plus at least an extra litre if you’re exercising or in a hot climate.

Gut Issues

If you find yourself spending more time in the bathroom than by the pool, here is what you should do. Experiencing sickness or travellers diarrhoea (or both if you’re really unlucky) can leave you dehydrated, which will only make you feel worse, so it’s important to replace the fluids you have lost. Alongside water, you also lose salts (mainly sodium and potassium) – consume an electrolyte drink or, alternatively, a glass of milk will do the job. Secondly, if all that travelling (or a nasty hangover) has left you feeling nauseous, ginger has been shown to reduce symptoms[3] – try a few ginger biscuits or be prepared and pack some ginger supplements in your suitcase.

Don’t drastically change your diet

Naturally, you will want to try new foods when travelling and maybe indulge a little. But suddenly consuming a lot of fat, sugar, and processed foods won’t do your digestive system any favours. Try to make sure you’re still getting enough fruit, vegetables, and fibre to aid digestion and sooth travellers diarrhoea– a morning smoothie should do the trick!

Food hygiene

Not that you shouldn’t be thinking about this when at home, but food and general hygiene are even more important when travelling abroad. Carry hand sanitiser so that you are always prepared and able to wash your hands before eating. Avoid tap water and raw fruits and vegetables. A bit of common sense will go a long way in helping your holiday from taking a nasty turn for the worst.

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  1. McFarland (2007) Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of traveler's diarrhea. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease [Online], 5 (2) March, pp. 97-105.
  2. Allen et al. (2010) Probiotics for treating acute infectious diarrhoea. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [Online], 10 (11) November.
  3. Lete & Allué (2016) The Effectiveness of Ginger in the Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy and Chemotherapy. Integrative Medicine Insights [Online], 11 March, pp. 11-17.


If you are taking any prescribed medication or have any medical conditions ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist BEFORE taking vitamins or supplements. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If pregnant or lactating, ALWAYS consult your doctor before use. Or if you have any queries about any supplement ALWAYS consult a QUALIFIED medical professional.


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