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How To Stay Healthy For Your Vacation

Four Suggestions for the Traveler

Q: I’ve planned a winter vacation to Cuba for 10 days. I want to avoid getting sick before I leave and while I’m there. What can you suggest that is natural?

-- Derek, Mimico


A.  By the time February hits in Ontario, nothing is sweeter than a sun-filled getaway to warm the heart, body and soul. However, most people express that the extra hustle needed at work and home in preparation for the trip, mixed with the long cold Canadian winters, leaves them feeling depleted and at risk of getting sick before or during their vacation.  Then depending on the destination, there is the added potential risk of traveller’s diarrhea to worry about. Here are some suggestions to help maintain health before and during a winter vacation.


Immune Boosting Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms like reishi, cordyceps, chaga, lion’s mane, and maitake are awesome immune supportive products. The daily intake of medicinal mushrooms promotes a healthy and robust immune system. They also help the body adapt to physical and mental stress, are a source of antioxidants, and support energy and stamina.  Look for a blend to help hone both general wellness and immune function.  Begin a daily intake of medicinal mushrooms 3-4 weeks prior to the trip and continue to take them while away to help avoid getting sick both before and during the vacation.


Saccromyces Boulardii

The balance of the ecosystem in the GI tract is of utmost importance to immune function and digestive health. However, it can be easily upset by stress, contaminated food, illness and travelling.  Saccromyces boulardii is a non-pathogenic strain of yeast that acts as a probiotic.  It rapidly multiplies in the intestines and blocks the implantation and growth of some disease-causing bacteria, such as those that can manifest in traveller’s diarrhea.  Add S. boulardii to your typical probiotic routine when travelling to kick up your defenses. Start a couple of days prior to departure for optimal support.


Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is very porous and carries a negative charge that binds and traps things of positive charge, such as some chemicals, toxins and bacteria, allowing them to be flushed out the body.  Its internal use has been found to help alleviate symptoms of gas, bloating and diarrhea.  Be mindful to increase water intake if taking activated charcoal, as it can be dehydrating and may cause constipation if not adequately hydrated.



If you’re travelling somewhere hot and will be sweating more, or if you get sick and have symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, sweating or a high fever, it’s important to not only stay re-hydrated but to replenish electrolytes as well.  Electrolytes play a key role in maintaining fluid balance and supporting normal body function. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, nausea, muscle cramping, dizziness, anxiety, headaches and various other issues. These are not winning symptoms for a restful vacation.  Check at a health food store for electrolytes in tablets or single serving sachets to allow for easy travel. Also, chose a brand that is free of artificial colours, chemicals and sweeteners.


Dr. Michelle Pobega, ND, runs a naturopathic practice near the Annex neighbourhood of Toronto. Stay connected with her at drmichellend.ca, Facebook and Twitter @MPobegaND