Let’s face it. There is nothing worse than heading to exotic shores like Bali, Thailand or other South-East Asian paradise and experience traveller’s diarrhoea (TD) or Bali belly as we call it Down Under.
You might think that you can easily avoid this dreaded condition by splashing out and staying at a five-star hotel. Well, it turns out that research suggests that even there you’re not immune to potential bad bacteria lurking in the salad bar. In fact, your risk of developing TD is much higher when staying at a top notch rather than more budget accommodation.
So as this is the time of year when many Melbournians travel to exotic shores, I’ve put together our tried-and-tested (as well as evidence-based) top 4 remedies to avoid traveller’s diarrhoea when abroad.
These tips will help you reduce your risk of contracting TD considerably and, more importantly, will prevent the development of post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome later on, which is very common.
The prebiotic fibre GOS has been studied extensively as an all round great fibre to increase beneficial bacteria like bifidobacteria species and Akkermansia muciniphalis. As little as 2.6g of GOS once daily were shown to decrease your risk of getting TD by 40% and a 50% reduction in duration of symptoms.
GOS tastes sweet and can be mixed in water or food so it’s easy to give to kids as well as adults. For maximum effect, start taking a sachet daily (we like Bimuno brand and stock it in clinic) for 2 weeks prior to your trip, while travelling and for two weeks afterwards.
This herb never ceases to amaze me. It’s so cheap to buy, widely available and it’s a powerhouse of selective anti-microbial activity. Why selective? It kills off the bad bugs like E. coli but leaves beneficial bacteria like lactobacilli untouched.
For best effects: crush a fresh clove and swallow/eat with food twice daily. Give a quarter to kids (avoid to giving children younger than 5 unless they’re already used to eating garlic regularly at home as it’s quite potent).
Take a strain-specific probiotic
Most people, and even many health practitioners lump all probiotics into one great, big beneficial pot. The truth is that different probiotic strains perform extremely different functions in the gut. So saying take some ‘acidophilus’ to avoid traveller’s diarrhea is the same as saying that you and your brother are exactly the same because you were born in the same family.
The fact is, some probiotic have been shown to be effective to prevent gut infections and others haven’t.
Which probiotic strains to take?
Saccharomyces cerevisiae var Boulardii Biocodex strain. This is currently not available in Australia – and no, buying other Saccharomyces boulardii probiotics won’t be as effective. You need the Biocodex strain specifically. You can find this strain on the internet as a product called Florastor or Perenterol. You need 500mg twice daily.
Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG. In Australia this is available in the product Ethical Nutrients Eczema shield or Metagenics Ultra Flora LGG. You need 20 billion per day.
Lactobacillus acidophilus La5 and Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12. Both available in Australia in Vaalia yoghurt and Mediherb Probiotica.
Take a water filter with you
I got this tip by digestion specialist Dr Jason Hawrelak. Such a simple solution and one that is also necessary to prevent the crazy amount of plastic water bottles amassing yearly in our oceans. Just pop into your local camping shop and buy a mini filter to take on holiday with you.