Holidays abroad are a great opportunity for sampling local specialties and exotic cuisine. With Michelin-starred chefs and award-winning restaurants all over the world, food is now a key reason to visit certain destinations.
But with holiday food comes the dreaded turista — or travelers' diarrhea. Try following these basic rules to reduce the risk of wasting precious holiday days holed up in the bathroom.
Strengthen gut bacteria with probiotics
Travelers with delicate digestive systems heading to far-flung destinations can try a course of probiotics to reinforce intestinal flora before setting off. Probiotics are micro-organisms found in certain yogurts, vegetables like carrots, beetroot and celery, or in sourdough bread. Stocking up on these "good" bacteria can help boost the body's natural resilience and could keep certain infections at bay.
Reach for bottled water
The majority of illnesses picked up on holiday are linked to the consumption of water. It's important to avoid drinking any water that could be contaminated. Travelers should therefore stick to bottled water rather than drinking water straight from the tap. Don't forget to insist that bottles are opened in front of you when eating out and make sure you stick to bottled water when brushing teeth. Beware of ice cubes too, as these are probably made with tap water.
Wash and peel veggies
In extension to the bottled water rule, make sure any vegetables eaten in far-off destinations are peeled. The skin is a potential source of contamination.
Stock up on the right medications
Avoid effervescent medication if possible, because you might not always have a bottle of water to hand. As well as packing anti-malaria drugs and paracetamol-based painkillers for unexpected headaches, it's wise to stock up on medicine to ease upset stomachs. Pick up some anti-nausea/vomiting medication in case of gastroenteritis, as well as an anti-diarrhea drug like Imodium (loperamide) and an intestinal antiseptic like Ercefuryl (nifuroxazide) to fight the bacteria responsible for intestinal infections.
Avoid uncooked foods
Food-loving travelers can enjoy sampling most things when abroad, but raw meat dishes should be kept off the menu. The cooking process kills bacteria like salmonella and Escherichia Coli, which cause diarrhea. Meat should be cooked through or boiled for a long time. Other ingredients should be thoroughly cooked too, including vegetables and deli meats. Watch out for certain desserts, which can include creams or mousses made with raw, uncooked ingredients, such as eggs.
Keep your hands clean
Hands should be washed before and after meals, after going to the toilet, etc. Washing hands should be a key part of everyone's daily routine, and even more so when holidaying abroad.