By Dr. Jeeno Jayan, MBBS
Travel tips constipation
Who wants to feel constipated on their vacation. Not me. Neither do I want to be stressed out over uncooperative bowel movements when I am on a business trip.
Some people suffer a kind of constipation that has nothing to do with what they are eating or with a medical condition.
Instead, it has to do with traveling.
While few people really talk about it, a lot of people suffer from travel-related constipation.
Stress has been proven to cause constipation, and trips can be quite stressful. Things like:
So even when we are on vacation, there can be a lot of extra stress.
From the time we finish packing and head out the door until they return to the confines of their own home our bowel habits can suddenly change, causing us to search out ways to relieve our constipation.
One of the first things that has travelers looking for a constipation remedy is travel stress; tip, this is our first factor that can lead to constipation.
There are plenty of things related to traveling that can cause stress, including:
For many people, stress from travel can cause their digestive system to get completely out of balance.
2. A change of schedule
Just as Pavlov’s dogs were conditioned to the bell, our internal clock keeps track of when it is time to defecate.
Yes, many people find that their bodies are conditioned to have a bowel movement at a specific time. Traveling often messes up our body clock, and sometimes we don’t experience the familiar urge to go.
When the urge comes at an inconvenient time, the tendency is to put it off, thereby backing up the bowels and causing a constipation problem.
3. Anxiety about unfamiliar territory
Some people just don't like being away from the comfort, security and privacy of their own bathroom.
Having a bowel movement in someone else’s bathroom, especially using a public toilet, makes them uncomfortable.
And who wants to put up with the heckling of others in the hotel room after stinking up the bathroom?
4. Constipation may be caused by a change in diet
At home I eat bran cereal, but on a trip I indulge in continental breakfasts that are devoid of fiber. That alone might bring on a bout of constipation.
5. On long trips, jet lag
When crossing time zones, we can experience jet lag. This may mean that our body thinks it is time for a bowel movement while we are asleep.
Once we are awake, other factors mentioned in this article make it difficult to find relief.
6. Feeling uneasy about unsanitary bathrooms
People in general and women in specific can hardly bring themselves to use a dirty bathroom.
Sometimes when we are on the road it can be difficult to find a clean facility. Putting off that urge to go until more favorable circumstances is definitely tips the scale towards travel constipation.
7. Acute indigestion
Many times when I travel I tend to eat more than I usually do, either because of eating in restaurants or sumptuous meals with relatives.
When we eat more, it puts a greater load on the digestive system, which can cause it to back up, resulting in constipation.
Indigestion disrupts the chain of events for the whole digestive system.
After stuffing ourselves with all the wonderful delicacies available, our stomach isn't able to break down proteins quickly enough. These proteins can then start to rot right in our gut.
This whole chain reaction can adversely affect normal regularity for some time. It may be three or four days until things are restored to normal.
8. Alcohol abuse or dehydration
This is sometimes the main culprit for constipation. If you have enjoyed the camaraderie and you tend to consume more alcohol than usual, this can adversely affect normal bowel movements.
Spending a lot of time on the beach can mean losing more water than is taken in, resulting in dehydration. Unfortunately, dehydration is a major cause of constipation.
These and other indulgences may be an invitation for constipation.
Many of the above causes of travel constipation are not intentional.
You may seriously desire to remove waste from your system, but your body or mind isn't cooperating.
If you want to convince your bowels that they should function as usual, here are a few things you can do to push the process along.
Next are some great tips to avoiding constipation during travel.
1. Take a daily magnesium supplement
Taking one or two teaspoons of a magnesium supplement each day may help to negate travel constipation.
Magnesium is a necessary nutrient. Taking a magnesium supplement may result in certain health benefits. It may also help to relieve constipation.
Unabsorbed magnesium functions as an osmotic laxative that pulls water into the colon. This helps to keep stool moist, soft and slippery.
2. Get more fiber
Before and during a trip, make sure to keep fiber intake high.
Eat whole grain foods, bran cereals, vegetables and fruit, beans, nuts and seeds, or consider taking a fiber supplement.
3. Drink more water
It is easy on a trip to become dehydrated. Make sure your body has enough water to flush waste through the system.
If you can, carry a bottle of water and take sips throughout the day.
4. Get up and move
If possible, break up a trip with numerous stops. If you are flying, get up and walk around every hour or two.
Even something as simple as walking can help with bowel function.
There are numerous factors on a trip that can cause us to become constipated.
There are numerous things that may be done to guard against constipation while traveling.
Drinking enough water, exercising, taking extra magnesium and making the right food choices are helpful for preventing travel constipation.