Planes, trains, and automobiles. Why is it that when we travel, our guts go GAGA on us?! Not Lady Gaga, just out of the ordinary, unpredictable. Well, I guess when I put it that way, kind of like Lady Gaga! Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, it’s the same dilemma. This blog is for you if you’ve experienced the following:
You sit on the toilet, hoping to clear out before you enjoy and explore your final destination. But to your dismay, your warming, delicious morning coffee that you hoped would unplug you failed to work. It normally does the job, so what gives?
Getting ready to enjoy an island paradise, business meeting or event, you slip into your bikini or business suit with a belly that feels like your 4 months pregnant, ok well maybe 5… You think to yourself, “Why do I always get so constipated when I travel?”
You know about the lack of abundance of vegetables at the airport, in the airplane and the restaurants. Food is partly to blame. Maybe you’re not drinking enough water too, or you stayed up late and didn’t get a good night’s sleep. You can’t pinpoint the cause, all you know is you’re having problems and you’re not going.
When we’re displaced out of our natural environment and routine, our body temples can go haywire. Our systems need rhythms and routines, and these are dictated by cues in our environment. New environment equals new cues. These new cues are unnatural to you and can derange your day night cycle, known as circadian rhythm. One of the many results of this is constipation.
However, adopting the health practices below will help to balance your sleep, wake (and I’m adding) your POOP cycle. Did you really expect me not to add poop? You will “flow” through your work trip or holidays with a flat belly and be pooping like a champ! So you can have fun and enjoy your trip, feeling great and not feeling like sh*t!
Here you will learn my best tips on how to keep your healthy flow while traveling. You’ll learn how to improve jet lag and keep your rhythms in balance so you’re not suffering before, during or on the return home from your trip.
Changes in Your Environment that Cue your Body Balance
Whenever you go from one place to another, you are exposed to everything new and different. Exposures include new bacteria in the food and air, new foods, new sounds, new smells, new social interactions, the list goes on and on. Your sleep, wake, and poop cycle (it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?) is cued by what you have in your environment. When it all changes it becomes a literal sh*t show and the functions of your body are thrown out of whack, not only your #2s.
Symptoms of Jet Lag – Ways Your Body Gets Thrown Off
My body gets thrown off a lot. I’m human and because I do a lot of travel for both business and pleasure, I know all too well the experience of jet lag. It actually comes in 2 phases for all travelers1. The initial symptoms are really more of a sensation of feeling disorientated with time, foggy brain, memory lapses, task performance isn’t the greatest and you have a strong feeling of fatigue, or what I call heaviness. It is often quite out of proportion to the amount of time traveled. The basic overall sensation is that you feel, well, “off”.
Later is when you start to feel the physical effects of jet lag and travel. Constipation and bowel changes are super common, digestion in general is off, your appetite may increase or decrease, restless nights predominant and insomnia is a theme. Some people may even experience more severe symptoms like headaches, migraines and vision changes. In this late phase you feel really, really “off”.
So What is to Blame for Changing our Rhythm?
The Cues in your Time Zone
External cues that influence what our bodies do are called Zeitgebers. I love this word, a good ‘ole German word. I love, love, love travelling to Germany! It basically describes the cues in our environments and bodies that dictate our functioning.
Zeitgebers include light, food, exercise and anything that stimulates our senses and nervous system. Common foodstuff that we take lightly are actually very strong Zeitgebers. Coffee, tea, chocolate and pop (I know, I sound like I’m from the Midwest!) are all stimulants that strongly dictate what our bodies do. Knowing this, we can use these to our advantage to reset ourselves. Stay tuned for more on this later.
Look, it’s not a surprise to you. Every day you manipulate your time zone by waking up and having a cup of coffee, sitting in your bed, staring at your cell phone, eating and exercising at certain times, social interactions and more. All of these choices are impacting whether or not your body is functioning optimally.
We highly manipulate our natural rhythms in today’s society with our 24/7 lifestyle. All of our technology, handheld, and computer devices that we’re addicted to, shift work, and of course trans-meridian travel really challenge our bodies to keep their balance and circadian rhythms.
It’s said that these cues entrain our bodies into the natural rhythms to maintain balance. Ideally, these natural rhythms are driven by mother nature’s cues. I speak in depth about this in my book ‘Oh, Sh*t! – 3 Stress-Less Steps to Connect, Clear and Calm Digestion’
These cues are necessary for us to live well and for our digestive and regulatory systems to function. Hormones, immunity and the nervous system are so dependant on these cues to know what to do! Without them, we would be lost in time, literally.
The Best Ways to Deal with Jet Lag and the Constipation That Results
It is actually suggested that the best way to deal with time zone travel is to modify environmental cues before, during and after a flight. This includes light, food, coffee, tea, chocolate, physical and mental activity, alcohol, and social interactions. These all affect bodily rhythms significantly, which in turn affects our quality of life and the altering symptoms we get when we travel. Here’s what to do to make it better.
When you travel, you could likely be changing timezones. I remember one month, I had traveled every weekend from Thursday to Monday, from the east coast to the west coast. What a ride. From Toronto, to Arizona, to San Diego, to Seattle, to Spokane. My husband remarked, “You should just stay there!” In hindsight that probably would have been best.
The result was I was feeling pretty messed up, even with practising all the right things. The reality is that changing time zones is a transient disruption of your natural sleep wake cycle which can take time to reset2. For me, this really hit me in my weak spot, my gut. Talk about an irritable bowel flare-up.
So it was up to me to get time zone savvy, and beat the stress that comes along with travel. Also, learning how to create an environment that is safe for me when I travel, to get me back into my healthy routine as quickly as possible. It’s not only the transient effect of jet lag, but if you’re traveling a lot like me, it can quickly age you. I definitely don’t want that, I know you don’t either. So here are my best tips and practices.
1. Get Time Zone Savvy – Connect to your Time Zone
Go barefoot if possible when you get to your location, or do like I do and wear your cowboy boots. Since cowboy boots are made with full leather (make sure yours aren’t plastic) they are grounding. They connect you to the earth. The barefoot will connect you to the polarity of the area, this is according to Chinese Medicine principles. I remember my teacher in school sharing this with us. I don’t know the true effectiveness of it, but do I care? No, because I figure anything that I can do to stack things in my favor is worth it! Plus, I love my cowboy boots!
2. Sleep Soundly
Sleep is our sanctuary of healing. We must do whatever possible for us to have an incredible, restful sleep, especially when traveling. Nothing but sleep and sex in your bed. Keep the room dark and cool, stick to your nightly routine.
Wear an Eye Mask
Before, during and after your travels, wear an eye mask to bed. Get into the habit of wearing it every night, it’s very good for you! An eye mask isn’t only for beauty but serves two purposes. It can become an excellent environmental cue to tell your body it’s time for bed. Plus, simply wearing an eye mask naturally increases your melatonin.
Melatonin has been shown to be excellent at improving jet lag and resetting sleep-wake rhythms3 4. If the eye mask is a very soft plush material like the one in the Queen of the Thrones™ Beauty Sleep Eye Kit™ it will also help with promoting the connection and love molecule, oxytocin5. How ‘bout them apples. Pretty easy to do and super beneficial, why wouldn’t you want to get your ‘best sleep’ on every night?
Castor Oil Packs to Balance Stress and Inflammation
Finding yourself on the opposite side of the world can cause lots of stress hormone to pump through your body. The feeling of being unsettled isn’t nice. Travel with your castor oil pack! It will serve as another cue for a good night’s sleep, especially if you are used to practicing it nightly. Castor oil packs support the 5 Pillars of Feeling Great.
These are the foundations of health. Wear your castor oil pack an hour before bed and overnight. When it comes to sleep this is how it helps:
- Calms your body down to prepare you for a good night’s sleep6 7.
- Keeps your immune system strong, protecting you from other people’s colds8 9. During sleep is when your immune system is most active.
- Reduces inflammation10 and supports antioxidant status11 12 protecting you from stress and the exposure to radiation from flying. When you sleep, you are actively cleaning up your body. We need balanced-inflammation and high antioxidant status during this time.
If you don’t have a castor oil pack yet, click here to get your Queen of the Thrones™ Castor Oil Pack and 500ml Castor Oil Bundle today; it is great for home and travel!
Dump the Digital or Get Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Blue light from technology such as computers, handheld devices and LED light blocks our bodies’ natural ability to create melatonin. Research shows that it significantly affects sleep, making it harder to get to bed at a decent hour13, leaving you restless, tossing and turning and sleepless. Improper sleep has been linked to attention deficit, increased appetite, and mood derangement. Look, light is a very strong environmental cue for our body rhythms. When the sun goes down:
- Wear your blue light blocking glasses to improve your sleep14
- Stop using your technology, especially in bed – Your bed is for SLEEP and SEX only!
3. Water – Drink, Drink, Drink!
Do Not Let Yourself Get Dehydrated!
The more dehydrated you are, the more fatigued you will be. The airplane is the first place you risk getting dehydrated, plus the change in environment will affect you. The stewardesses are very friendly and have no problem giving you more water.
Don’t drink hotel water from the tap!!!! OMG, this makes me wanna cringe. I remember my first trip to Arizona. I didn’t realize that it’s a dessert. I was so thirsty, I felt like I couldn’t hydrate. I kept on buying bottled water from the hotel. I spent 150$ on WATER!!!! OMG, never again. Water keeps us in flow. It keeps our digestion right and it supports all functions of our system.
When you arrive at your destination, aim to go shopping and get yourself water. Some hotels and resorts include all the water, but when they don’t I buy myself 4 gallons of water for a 3-4 day stay. I make my morning teas in the coffee pots, boiling the water and drinking water all day during my travels.
Aim to not drink too much coffee, alcohol and other dehydrating drinks. An easy-to-do electrolyte drink is to take sparkling water, add salt and squeeze in a bunch of fresh lemon or lime. An electrolyte drink like this can help your tissues to better absorb water and keep you hydrated for longer. In Mexico they call this drink “SUERO”. Something that nurtures the body and helps us to keep the water in!
4. Food, Digestion, and Pooping
What to consume? To help avoid jet lag and constipation, nutrition plays an incredible role15. Don’t be shy, you need your vegetables! I know it’s hard to find them in airports and restaurants, and the foods you typically eat while traveling are notorious for causing bloating, giving you a food hangover and making you constipated. You’re also being exposed to new bacteria in the foods that you eat and this can upset the gentle balance of your gut.
Hit Up the Local Health Food Store
To combat this, everywhere I go I stop at the local health food store. I buy various easy to eat veggies like celery, peppers, cucumbers, snap peas, baby carrots, apples, nut butter, and some nuts and seeds. This means I’ll get some good healthy fiber and roughage to get me through when I don’t have access to super produce. Clearly when you’re getting no fiber, no fresh nutrients, no functioning of your caboose!
New places means new bacteria in your food that your body isn’t used to. This is another huge factor that can set off your gut of and create constipation. Make sure to do your castor oil pack nightly as this helps to keep your gut bacteria in a good state 16 17 18. Taking a probiotic daily is also a good idea!
Relax your Body Before you Eat
Don’t forget to wear your Grateful Dung Bracelet and to do your ‘Grateful Dung Dining Practice’ before you eat. This practice helps to calm down your system and your gut before you eat. This alone can really help with keeping you regular because the calming your nervous system before eating helps keep your digestion in check.
Don’t forget to CHEW your food!
This improves your digestion and pooping. With the excitement of being in a new place, we can forget to be mindful and just inhale our foods. Use your Grateful Dung Bracelet and count the beads for the number of times you need to chew. This is just an easy way to remember to chew your food until it becomes a paste in your mouth, making it so much easier on your body to digest.
Keep your bowels moving19 with your castor oil pack done nightly. If you are super, super constipated (as in more than 4-5 days) then taking castor oil orally will have a stimulant laxative effect. This is a worst-case scenario solution and should always be done under the supervision of a medical professional. I remember the first time I took it orally, I was in South America and with the 15 hour flight, food, time and weather change, everything was off. It didn’t taste the greatest but it sure helped things to move!
5. Exercise While you Travel
Exercise and movement are well-known cues to keep your sleep, wake & pooping cycles timed right. Movement makes you move, no two ways about it! Timing of your exercise is important to support your best circadian rhythms20. I prefer morning exercise to start your day off with good energy.
I know that very few of you take the time to exercise while on holidays or work trips. How do I know this? Because I’m not seeing anyone in the gym! Conference after conference, trip after trip, I see very few people in the gym. Frankly, I’m surprised. I just love exercise! It makes me feel good, keeps my sleep in check, and helps me poop! So I don’t get why more people aren’t doing it.
The Lazy Way to Exercise While Travelling
Less can be more! You don’t need to work out for an hour. I just get to the gym and do 10-15 minutes of intense exercise and a bit of stretching and that’s it! A little run and some weights. The purpose is just to get the blood flowing, your muscles moving and your diaphragm pumping. This pumping of the diaphragm helps to put pressure against the intestine, stimulating movement.
Exercise can be as easy as taking the staircase to your hotel room every time instead of the elevator. I always commit to that in order to just get a bit more motion in.
Bacteria is EVERYWHERE! Especially when you Travel
While traveling we are exposed to new bacteria everywhere. Tight spaces of airplanes and trains, conferences and amusement park lineups. You’ll hear people sniffling, sneezing and coughing. Never a good sign. Airplanes are like infection factories and the fact that so many people are in a small place augments the infection rate. Don’t be surprised if you land in your tropical paradise with the sniffles or you’re ready for your big presentation with a scratchy throat.
Infections that bug the upper membrane of the nasal cavity and throat affect your gut too. After all, our digestive tract runs from our gums to bums! It’s the same bacteria throughout our bodies, and when one part of the microbiome is affected, the whole microbiome is affected. We are exposed to new bacteria in every NEW environment we go into and it’s no surprise that gastrointestinal infections are common with travel21.
If you’re in the tropics, there’s a whole other level of angst about eating your vegetables. The worry exists of parasites or strange bacteria. It may be something as innocent as the washing of your vegetables with water that hasn’t been purified.
Parasites can very much keep you blocked up and constipated, and a gastrointestinal infection is a precursor to living with IBS. Women who are on antibiotics and under stress have the highest likelihood of being affected22. Hmm, sounds like most of us, doesn’t it?
It’s not Only about the Bacteria; Parasites are an Entirely Other Problem
Countries of the Caribbean, tropics, and India practice a weekly purgation in order to prevent parasites. This purgation is done with castor oil. “It was a Sunday practice, just a tbsp full of castor oil, down the hatch just like that. Sometimes it made you go fast and other times, just better”. I can’t tell you how many patients of mine have discussed this weekly cleansing Sunday practice with me.
It makes sense that the initial reaction of a parasitical infection is diarrhea, but sometimes our bodies are so out of tune, that instead of eliminating we get bunged up. This leaves the bacteria to procreate. The best way to reset is to eliminate properly. Stimulating it with castor oil packs are an excellent tool.
Protect your Body from the Bad Bugs
Watch the food you are eating, but don’t stay away from vegetables because you’re worried about the water that they are washed in or not. It’s safer to eat them slightly cooked or steamed – or ask for a stir fry!
Drink bottled water and bottled beer. Stay away from drafts and fountain pops. Don’t use ice cubes unless you know they are filtered. Castor oil packs are a great addition on holidays to help support your digestion, supporting the good bacteria and preventing the bad ones. It helps prevent you from getting constipated and to help your body to keep the bacterial mix in a healthy state.
Smell is a sign of bacteria and parasites in the bowl. So make sure to poop, peek, smell and perfume.
You are an unsuspecting victim each time you walk into the bathroom. Stools are made up of 25-54% bacteria23. When you flush, microbes stay in the air of the bathroom and deposit on the nearest surfaces. We know this because toothbrushes have different bacteria (including bowel bacteria!). Studies show that toothbrushes next to your toilet in the bathroom demonstrate E. Coli and Staph bacteria, different from those toothbrushes with no toilet24. So, when you walk in after another person dropping a log you are being exposed to their bacteria!
This is why I always carry my Eau de Throne ™ ‘After you Poo Parfum!™’ everywhere I go. The more you know, the harder it is to sit there and ignore it… as I relax to let one drop, I am being infected by other people’s strains of bacteria! When I travel, as soon as I walk into a new washroom I spray Eau de Throne™ before I go, and after I poo too, to protect the next unsuspecting victim.
Clearly, you can see how many factors need to be addressed to keep that oh-so-important sleep, wake and poop cycle working in your favor. The easiest way is always to be prepared with the tools that can PREVENT a problem.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Pooping is always number one! Remember, your stools got a bad rap being known as #2, when they are the #1 product that our bodies produce. When you’re traveling the world, you want to make sure everything is working well in your production facility so that you can keep up to all the adventure!
Practice these tips and also try to make them a part of your daily lifestyle. Why not feel great all the time?! One of the best ways to set yourself up with everything you need to do this is The Queen Kit. It contains everything you need while traveling and for daily life to keep it all together.
It is a collection of all of the awesome tools we’ve talked about in this article to elevate your health, supercharge your travels, and experience excellence in your life! When you are empowered you can do anything!
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