I traveled recently for an extended period of time. I ate airport food, I visited tons of restaurants, and I stocked my hotel room with quick packaged snacks.
It’s travel, right? So not a problem. Right?
Ok, so I get back home and happily revert back to my normal diet. Then I proceed to spend the next 2 days with bloating, abdominal pain, and various other gastrointestinal unmentionables.
I was fine, though sub-par, on the crappier diet and then felt pretty darn bad on the healthier one. And this isn’t unheard of when people make more long-term changes to picking a more nutritious diet.
What’s the deal with that?
What it comes down to, as is the case with so many common health problems, is our gut bacteria. Turns out, several days of different exposure to our gut bacteria is enough to make a big difference in the quality, quantity, and diversity of our gut flora.
First and foremost, our gut bacteria responds to the food we intake when we change our diets, regardless of if that change happens for the good or not. So when my I abruptly changed my diet from restaurant and travel foods when I got home, my gut bacteria responded in turn. Since it was a short-term change in the balance of gut flora, it didn’t take too long for things to get back to its previous state. When we make changes from more long-term habits, it can be a process that takes weeks or even months to change over. The process is the same…it’s just the timeframe that changes.
While we often have no problem thinking of food in relation to our gut bacteria, it’s been shown over and over that other aspects of our lives dictate the number and quantity of our gut bacteria. Travel stresses, sleep schedule changes, and bacterial content in our environment all dictate how our internal flora changes. This process is an ever-present and changing fact of our gut function though again, how miserable you feel is often a reflection of the severity and abruptness of the change.
So where do we go from here?
This knowledge is meant to empower our food choices and know why the repercussions happen. Sometimes you may end up acting differently though sometimes you may not. The point isn’t that you necessarily change every single thing you do, especially on vacation, but that you make the choices you make knowingly.
And when you’re ready for a gut healing protocol, this is the one I use to recover from any stomach upset.
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