Is Traveling Good for Your Gut?
Traveling is the best.
Not only does it expose you to new cultures, languages, people, architecture, to a new everything, but it also exposes you to new foods which are GREAT for your gut microbiome.
Your microbiome is made up of the friendly bacteria that live in your gut and help you digest your food. When they’re happy, you’re happy, and when they’re not, you’re definitely not. Think of waking up energized with your jeans fitting perfectly versus feeling bloated, lethargic and depressed.
An easy way to keep your microbiome friends happy is to eat a variety of foods, especially when it comes to leafy greens since they promote butyrate and other short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) like acetayte and propionate, which make up 95% of the SCFA’s in your colon. This is easy to do at home too, just make sure to eat the widest variety of greens you can, daily. If you aren’t able to, a simple trick is to grab a bunch of every leafy green or veggie you can find (the more variety the better) and to cut them up into small pieces, reserving them in a container in the freezer. In the morning, grab a handful and blend them together for a funky green smoothie that will help diversify your gut microbiome and give you plenty of fiber for SCFA metabolism. Not saying it’s delicious, but I am saying it’s incredible for your health.
SCFA’s help keep the tight junctions in your small intestine lining in tact as well as your mucosal lining, keep your immune system strong, regulate insulin, your brain inflammation in check, your friendly gut bacteria stay balanced and help with the absorption of nutrients. Considering the brain-gut axis, SCFA’s are beneficial for keeping your brain happy and healthy too.
This is why it’s so important to eat a bit of everything and the stranger (every once in awhile) the better. This can be especially important when you’re traveling since not only are you exposed to all kinds of new and interesting food possibilities, but this is also the time when your immune system is taxed the most. Travel can be very stressful, it changes our circadian rhythms with changing time zones, we might forget to eat or binge on sugar and so forth, shifting our digestive systems and in turn affecting our immune systems. Eating the local foods that are new to you actually help build your immunity and improve your overall health, which means you’ll travel happier and recover faster from jet lag and such. The bonus takeaway is that the more balanced you stay while you travel, the less likely you’ll get sick when you arrive home, which is very common since it is when we finally rest that our bodies can catch up and give in.
Traveling is excellent for your gut and for your health if you play it right. Enjoy, but mind your belly and diversify while you explore. Your short term - and long term - health depends not only on your happiness and on your nutrient intake, but specifically what your body does with the nutrients you give it. The more diverse, the healthier you’ll be.
What’s your favorite new food you’ve had while traveling?
Au revoir! ❤️