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Traveler's constipation: water and herbs to fight it off

Digestion and intestines

Traveler's constipation, a common problem

Even those who usually have a regular bowel movement may suffer from constipation during their holidays in Italy or abroad. It is actually a fairly common condition that can disrupt the long-awaited holiday. What is traveler's constipation? It is a form of occasional constipation, hence called "traveler's", causing some complaints, which may affect your activities in various ways:

  • bloating;
  • more or less severe abdominal pain;
  • headaches and other discomforts.

This occurs when the intestinal musculature is unable to transport the faecal mass with regularity, so that this stagnates in the intestine causing a reduced frequency of emptying and increased consistency of stool, which, staying longer in the intestine, dehydrates and becomes harder.

As mentioned above, this problem on holiday can also affect those who usually have regular bowel movements, leaving untouched that a change of habits and being away from home can worsen the discomfort in those who are already suffer from constipation.

What causes traveler's constipation?

Among the main reasons that can encourage traveler's constipation are:

  • climate change and jet-lag;
  • new places to sleep as well as new toilettes to use;
  • emotional stress;
  • close co-existence with other people and consequent space sharing.

Moreover, when abroad, on holiday, you may want to taste new foods, which, however, may result in slower digestion, as the stomach and intestine are not used to certain foods. An additional factor can also be the well-known jet lag, which, besides causing drowsiness and making it difficult to fall asleep, can affect the normal digestive function. Finally, some "aggravating factors" that can worsen traveler's constipation are:

  • little exercise
  • little water consumption
  • increased intake of alcoholic beverages
  • a limited intake of fruits and vegetables.

6 tips to prevent and combat traveler's constipation

If you are on holiday and you want to prevent constipation and consequent swollen belly and abdominal discomfort, just follow a few rules, many of which are simply common sense.

  • Replenish fluids. First of all, in summer time and on holidays we tend to sweat a lot; when being outdoors or in the sun, the human body dehydrates easily; to counteract traveler's constipation it therefore becomes necessary to replenish the lost fluids, especially in the first part of the morning. Be careful though! You should prefer water to fruit juices and soft drinks!
  • Some exercise. Some consistent physical activity can also be of help: half and hour of daily walking, ten minutes exercise, and if you are at the sea, even a pleasant swim will help you regain bowel regularity while away from home.
  • Plenty of fibres. Changes in diet have important consequences in the intestine and often in summer, especially on holiday, eating habits are totally distorted. The prevention of constipation, however, starts at the table. First of all, you should avoid skipping meals, since only by introducing the right amount of food you can properly stimulate the intestinal muscles; it is also essential to choose the right foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables and high-fibre foods (such as, for example, bread and whole grains); on the contrary, you would better limit consumption of processed cheeses, products made with refined flour and rice.
  • Eating at regular times and with no haste. Digestion starts in the mouth: it is therefore essential to eat without hurry and chew your ingested food; also, it may be helpful to eat, as far as possible, at a regular time, even if, on holiday, rhythms are inevitably different than in the rest of the year and we often tend to "whip up" our daily activities.
  • Do not put off. To "train" the gut and limit the phenomenon of traveler's constipation, you should not repress the urge to pass stool when it arises. The main problem of many people when they are away from home is of not being able to have a bowel movement at a regular time, because of changes in rhythms and habits when on holiday.
  • Natural aids. To solve the problem of constipation, perhaps in the middle of the well-deserved summer break, you can also enlist the help of specific natural supplements, based on herbs such as Sacred Bark and Barberry, which can promote regular bowel movements, and enriched with lactic acid bacteria, useful in maintaining the natural balance of intestinal flora.

In any case, a slowdown of intestinal activity on holiday should not become an obsession, and should always be approached with relaxed attitude, provided that, if we were to be faced with a prolonged constipation, you should always consult a doctor.

That remedy for constipation that comes from the New World ...

The Spanish explorers that in the sixteenth century arrived in California, after a long journey, were affected by a serious problem: constipation.

Luckily for them, "Local Indians had the solution: an infusion prepared with a medicinal plant which they considered sacred. The herb was effective, and the Spaniards called it cascara sagrada, which means "sacred bark". Since then, cascara has been the answer to the problem of many. " (M. Castleman, The healing herbs, Milano 2007).

The posture that "helps"

Unexpectedly the traditional posture we take when we sit on a toilet is not the best one to promote  stimulation. One of the recommended postures to pass stool, instead, is the "squatting", the one that occurs naturally when using a Turkish, squat toilet. This posture would facilitate the relaxation of the muscles of the rectum and, consequently, the evacuation.

Even some researchers at Stanford University have confirmed the validity of this posture, which would help especially all the people with colon problems.

To take this posture also on the toilet, just use some tricks: you can place a small stool in front of the toilet, on which you will place your feet, then lean your chest slightly forward (almost touching your knees). It is also possible to climb on the edge of the toilet itself and squat, as if you were using a squat toilet, but this position is easier for tiny and athletic people.


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