Rebecca’s top 8 tips for feel-good flying with SIBO
Flying when you have concerns about your gut health can be daunting, so how can you feel good flying with SIBO? With Rebecca travelling all over the US and Canada this month she’s got some top tips for how to fly with SIBO and limit the negative effects of flying. These 8 tips for flying with SIBO will make sure whether you are travelling for work or fun, you relax, enjoy your journey and arrive at your destination feeling ready for whatever awaits you.
Prepare for takeoff
1. Before you fly consider time zone changes, adjusting your body to a new time zone slowly should help to ease your jet lag. You can start up to a week before you fly, changing your bedtime by an hour, increasing that each night by an extra hour, to bring you closer to your destination time zone. Even if, like Rebecca, you’re travelling a lot, it can help to ensure that you’ll be able to cope better when you arrive at your destination.
2. Supporting your system before you fly with SIBO is one of the best ways to prevent food poisoning. Dr Nirala Jacobi recommends enhancing the natural antimicrobial activity of stomach acid (HCL), bile, and enzymes which are produced to help us digest foods and kill foodborne bacteria by using digestive aids like herbal bitters and HCL Betaine (not advisable if you have a history of gastritis), antimicrobials like Berberine and Rifaximin and additional supports like Melatonin (considered a prokinetic which can support the motility of the small intestine) and Saccharomyces boulardii, a beneficial yeast with many digestive benefits. For more information on dosages, read this article. And don’t forget, keep your water intake high before you fly so you are well hydrated before the flight.
3. Whether you plan to be awake or asleep on the flight, bringing a few home comforts with you can help you feel more relaxed. Rebecca likes to travel with noise cancelling headphones, her own blanket, a revitalising moisturiser from Ecology Skincare and a neck pillow. Studies have shown that the blankets you receive on the plane are not overly hygienic, as they aren’t regularly cleaned, despite coming in new plastic wrapping. You can only imagine the things people use them for: wiping dirty hands, blowing noses, changing nappies on, or other equally unpleasant activities. It’s not something we want to snuggle up with. A blanket that has been used up to 5 times before, yuck, no thanks!
4. When flying with SIBO, keeping your gut protected from the germs that are present on a plane can feel daunting, but popping a pack of non-alcohol (the alcohol is very drying and can cause skin irritation) anti-bacterial wipes in your carry-on bag will make a big difference. Everything from faecal matter to Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria has been found hiding in the passenger cabin of planes. Use the anti-bacterial wipes to clean your armrests, trays, seat belt clips, toilet door handles and flushes. Rebecca likes to have a pack of these in her bag at all times, and they come in handy whenever you are out and about. She says that it’s worth remembering to bring your own water too, as you never know where your plane refilled its water supply. After contracting the parasite Giardia on a flight from the UK to Dubai one year, Rebecca is very careful of the water she drinks.
5. It may be old news, but as important as ever; drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. It’s harder staying hydrated now that we aren’t allowed to bring filled water bottles through security, however you can generally buy water once you have passed security to take on the plane. Or, if you are in a country with good quality water, you can fill up at a water station. If you can’t bring water on the plane a good tip is to ask for some water before you sit down. Rebecca lets the steward know that she needs to take a tablet and gets a bottle before takeoff. Try and make sure that you’re drinking a glass of bottled water at least twice an hour. The drier it is on the plane the worse you’ll feel, so keep drinking. Newer planes tend to have better air quality and shouldn’t be as drying as the older models. And keeping hydrated will help keep your mucosal pathways in your nose, mouth and throat moist, helping to keep your immune system working optimally from all those airborne nasties.
6. It’s advisable to stay away from the food on the plane. It has been sitting around cooling down and then warming up. These meals can be a hotbed of bacteria that you don’t want in your gut when you’re flying with SIBO. If you have to eat the food then it’s worth finding out if they can accommodate a request for gluten and dairy free meals. Otherwise, take your own, find just a little bit of time to prepare yourself a plane feast. Rebecca loves to take a slab of frittata, like our kale, radicchio and semi-dried tomato frittata from our SIBO Family Favourites Cookbook and a bag of homemade spiced trail mix from the SIBO Summer Cookbook as a snack.
7. Movement isn’t always easy to achieve once you’re on a flight, but getting up and taking a walk around the cabin as much as you can will help keep your blood flowing. If you have a break in your flight make sure you get moving while you’re waiting for your next flight, and no one said that walking couldn’t involve shopping! Exercising on arrival at your destination is a super way to get to know your location and exercise signals to your body that it’s daytime, not bedtime, producing adrenalin in the body to help you feel more alert. Rebecca loves to get out and get to know her surroundings as soon as she arrives and makes sure she’s always got her guidebook handy in her carry-on bag. Get a healthy dose of sunshine and if the temperature allows, walk barefoot in some grass to help ground you in your new location.
8. There is little you can do if you end up next to a coughing, sneezing travelling companion but Rebecca pops a few drops of Tea Tree oil under her nostrils to help ward off the germs. With its antimicrobial properties, this powerful oil has a scent that people either love or hate. If you’re on a long journey, the relief you may feel from sniffing it and not the people around you can be considerable. If you like using essential oils then a dab of lavender oil on your neck pillow or blanket can help aid more restful sleep too.
Rebecca is a traveller by nature and loves nothing more than exploring new destinations. Life with SIBO means you need to be more organised, but Rebecca believes we can still enjoy the life with SIBO even when we are on the road.