Travel: Don’t let turistas ruin your vacation

(NC) – You're on a picturesque beach soaking up the sun and enjoying a few cocktails on your sunshine vacation when suddenly you feel a series of all too familiar grumbles in your stomach. The next thing you know you're on a mad dash to the nearest restroom with none in sight. Welcome to the wonderful world of traveler's diarrhea, otherwise known as “turista”.

Defined as three or more unformed stools passed by a traveler in 24 hours, it is by far the most common health problem affecting travelers. Although it is very rarely life-threatening, traveler's diarrhea is extremely unpleasant and can ruin part of your trip. The main cause of this gastrointestinal infection according to Dietician-Nutritionist Annie Jolicoeur is consuming water or food that is contaminated with bacteria. “It is important to understand that the stress of traveling, time changes, fatigue, and the disruption of your normal eating habits can also cause diarrhea,” she explained.

Unfortunately, 30 to 50 per cent of travelers experience this problem every year. Destinations that feature a warm, humid climate, such as South America, Mexico, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, represent the worst danger spots.

The vast majority of travelers live in fear of contracting traveler's diarrhea, so here are Jolicoeur's suggestions for avoiding this extremely unpleasant occurrence:

• Start taking probiotics at least a week before you leave for vacation, and continue to take them throughout your trip. By starting before your trip, you are preparing your digestive system to increase its resistance to foreign bacteria. “In addition, there are effective traveler's probiotic options available, such as Probaclac travelers that contain lactic acid bacteria, such as Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium bifidum, which have been proven to reduce the duration or persistence of diarrhea while reinforcing intestinal flora,” she added.

• Only drink beverages from sealed bottles. If it is not possible to do this, it is important to boil water before drinking it, or drink hot tea and coffee. Don't forget to also boil water to be used for brushing your teeth.

• Do not put ice cubes in your drink.

• Only eat fruits that have been peeled.

• Only eat vegetables that have been cooked and are still hot. Stay away from raw vegetables and salads.

• Do not eat raw or undercooked meats, seafood, or fish.

• Avoid non-pasteurized dairy products.

• Do not buy food or beverages on the street.

• Wash your hands thoroughly before eating. Antiseptic gels are possible alternatives.

By following these tips you can rest assured that your trip will be free of stomach grumblings and unpleasant experiences. More information and advice on probiotics is available at


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