Top tips for keeping gut health in check on holiday

Diet and health plans tend to go by the wayside the minute we go on holiday.

But if you are making a commitment to support the gut and boost general wellbeing, it's still possible to indulge a little whilst on vacation.

Nutrition, wellness and fitness expert Penny Weston offers up some top tips for taking care of gut health during your next trip.

Avoid going to bed on a full stomach

Even though it may be tempting to go for a nap or lie-down after a big lunch or dinner out, this isn't necessarily great for digestion.

"When you're lying down, it's much harder for the digestive system to work efficiently. Food is best digested when the body is upright. It can add to bloating if you sleep on a full stomach," she noted. "It's a good idea to have a lighter meal in the evening, so you aren't bloated later on, and eat your main meal at lunchtime. However, I understand this is not always something we can do on holiday, so look to make mindful choices instead."

Plane bloating

Studies have shown that bloating on a plane is very common, as the gasses in our intestines can expand up to 30 per cent when flying. Although it is normal, there are definitely foods we can avoid to help combat the issue, including fast foods, chewing gum, and hard sweets.

"When we are chewing gum or eating a hard sweet, you will notice that we are swallowing more than we normally would - and most of this is air. This can actually lead to bloating, and even stomach cramps. If you are going to have gum, I would definitely try to avoid sugar-free gums, as they contain an ingredient called sorbitol, an artificial sweetener which can act as a laxative due to the poor digestion of it," the expert explained.

Opt for plant-based options

If you choose vegetables in a wide range of colours, then you will be stocking up on essential antioxidants to best help your body's inflammatory response.

"Veggies are also high in fibre, which is good for feeding gut bacteria and helping the process through the gut," noted Penny. "In addition, probiotics and fermented foods can also help promote healthy gut bacteria. Eating foods such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented vegetables is really good for your gut health."

Stay hydrated

Drinking water during or after a meal will help your body break down and process food and therefore help the digestion process.

"Water helps your body break down food so your body can absorb the nutrients," she said. "It also helps move nutrients around the body and flush out bad toxins. Having a hydrated gut will help with better skin, the immune system and brain function as well as energy levels."

Ease back on alcohol

The majority of people enjoy a few drinks while on vacation. Yet, the key here is not to go overboard.

"If you drink alcohol in excess, it can interfere with the production of digestive enzymes and juices so it becomes harder for your body to digest and absorb nutrients from food," added Penny. "Alcohol is a diuretic, causing you to go to the toilet more and feel dehydrated. This causes symptoms like headaches and fatigue so drink plenty of water while drinking alcohol and before you go to bed."