Constipation is a common hazard when travel is far and frequent, even to those usually blessed with the most regular habits. The causes are multiple, each would be manageable alone but in combination can lead to serious discomfort. When travelling on business you want to be at your peak performance and not worrying about when your next bowel movements could be.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES AND WHAT CAN WE DO TO PREVENT A BACKED UP BOWEL?
Foods with Low Water Retention
The regular healthy breakfast eaten at home, on business travel, is often replaced with comfort food, my choice being the pain aux raisin. Foods like muesli, bran flakes, porridge and whole grain toast is high in fibre and water binding gels, bacon baps and patisserie isn’t. Our digestive system soon becomes clogged when we switch from a reasonably good diet, to a reasonably poor one.
If we don’t have access to a regular supply of fluids, we become dehydrated and this can cause constipation, in addition to head aches and lethargy.
Consumption of Dehydrating Foods and Drinks
Salty foods and snacks (now a purchase item on low budget airlines) need water in order for the salt to be excreted by our kidneys. If we drink fluids with over 5% alcohol, our liver needs extra water to process the alcohol. Strong caffeinated drinks stimulates the excretion of water.
In isolation salt, alcohol and caffeine will promote dehydration, a combination will make things worse.
Very Low Humidity
The atmosphere in aeroplanes is extremely dry and the longer we spend in this environment, the more important it is to keep hydrating with fluids.
Uncomfortable Toilet Arrangements
In the absence of a bit of quiet privacy, we can be reluctant to make full use of the available toilet facilities. In this situation, it’s tempting to ‘hold on’ and wait until a more inviting toilet situation is available. One function of the colon is to extract liquid from it’s contents, and the longer waste products stay there, the more dry and solid they will become.
PREVENTATIVE STEPS WE CAN TAKE
A Good Diet
Take it with you. Apples are a great prevention and cure for constipation and it’s easy to carry a few in your bag. The gel forming pectin in apple assists the contents of the bowels to retain moisture plus the high fibre peel adds water binding bulk.
Avoid salty snacks and strong coffee. Keep alcohol levels low, dilute drinks containing over 5% alcohol.
If possible, walk about the plane or train, in a car, stop every few hours to walk around. After the journey, try and get some exercise.
Forget to be embarrassed
Holding on to a stool motion promotes constipation and can cause discomfort. If you know there will be poor hygiene standards on your journey, always travel with your own packs of disinfecting wet wipes and tissues.
Any long journey is going to involve some of these factors and some are impossible to avoid. With careful planning it is possible to take preventative action and ensure comfort at the business destination and on returning home.
© Extravitality 2015