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You may be thinking, “This gut health concept is all well and good as long as I’m cooking at home where I know what goes into my meals. But, what about the rest of my life?”

Just ask anyone who’s gone through the adventure of ruling out a food allergy. Meeting dietary requirements is not easy when you’re at a business meeting, traveling, or even just visiting friends and family. While the ideal situation would be for you to bring your own healthy and clean ingredients from home all the time, this is usually impractical. Instead of holing up in your hotel room with a box of gluten-free crackers, try a few of these strategies to stay safe when you’re on the road.

These tips are vital when traveling overseas.

1) Use hand sanitizer before every meal. A gel that contains more than 60 percent alcohol is adequate to ensure you don’t accidentally contaminate your own meal.

2) Only eat well-cooked foods. Be certain it was cooked while you waited for it, and it is piping hot when it gets to you. Even food that was cooked well, once left to sit at room temperature, becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.

3) Skip the salad—and the salad bar. Eat your vegetables, but only those that are well cooked. When overseas, assume both raw vegetables and fruits are risky—that includes peeled fruit, except for bananas. As for salad bars, even in developed countries, these can be pathogen and germ buffets.

4) Avoid dairy. Cheeses can be contaminated with shigella, but it’s good to rule out all dairy anyway when you’re reestablishing gut health.

5) Choose healthful ethnic foods. Italian, Greek, Moroccan, Turkish, Lebanese, and Indian cuisine are all rich in pathogen-fighting garlic, oregano, and cayenne.

6) Request organic meats. Non-organic meats often contain antibiotic residues that are hard on your probiotic balance.

7) Eat and drink before the plane flight, but not on the plane. Eating beforehand raises your blood volume, which helps your body cope with pressure changes. Pumpkin seeds are an especially appropriate snack, as they not only parasite-proof your body but contain fats, protein, and carbs for blood sugar regulation as well. Once on the plane, food and drink can be questionable depending on the country it originated from.

8) Drink bottled drinks with recognizable brands or brewed beverages prepared with boiling water. Whenever possible, drink straight from the bottle, and don’t ask for ice. Use bottled water to brush your teeth too.

9) Prepare and maintain your gut with a probiotic supplement. Again, the brand I recommend is Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics 12 PLUS. The product is fermented at room temperature, so the probiotics do not need to be refrigerated—especially handy when traveling! Take the recommended dose (1 cap in the morning, 1 in the evening) prior to traveling and during the trip. If you run into a bug while out and about, take a higher dose until symptoms are alleviated.

Of course, don’t let all of this travel advice scare you from enjoying and exploring that wonderful world out there. Yes, more than ever, you do need to be aware. But increased knowledge of the possible dangers empowers you to take proactive steps to guard your health. With common sense, preparation, and protection, you’ll come home healthier and wiser about our ever-shrinking global village.

You can learn more about “Gut Health on the Road” in Dr. Gittleman’s book The Gut Flush Plan.

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Visionary health expert Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, has always been a trendsetter. With millions of followers nationwide, she has the uncanny ability to pinpoint major health concerns and provide solutions years ahead of anybody else.

Highly respected as the grande dame of alternative health and award-winning author of 30 books, she single-handedly launched the weight loss/detox revolution in her New York Times bestseller The Fat Flush Plan. A Connecticut College and Teachers College, Columbia University graduate, Dr. Ann Louise was recognized as one of the top ten nutritionists in the country by Self magazine and was the recipient of the American Medical Writers Association award for excellence. She has been a popular columnist for First magazine since 2003.