5 Health Essentials to Bring on Vacation

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” –Saint Augustine

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Traveling has enriched my life in many ways. I have learned valuable life lessons, experienced new cultures, and I even met my husband while spending a year in Honduras.

But traveling isn’t always glamorous; the Instagram shots from backpackers and jetsetters might make it appear so, but the truth is, there’s a flip side. Jetlag, constipation, diarrhea and food poisoning many times accompany travel. This is inevitable due to foreign bacteria, different degrees of hygiene, and to being at the mercy of someone else preparing your food.

But please don’t let these things discourage you from traveling my friends! From my experience, I’ve found that some people are less vulnerable than others due to lifestyle choices, habits, and a little preparation. And by bringing these five travel essentials on your next trip, you will feel light, energized, and ready to sight see!

So don’t cancel your flight just yet. Continue packing your bags-just make sure to include these five essentials to avoid getting that Delhi Belly.

5 Health Essentials to Pack for Your Next Trip:

1.Probiotics

Probiotics promote good gut health, which is crucial because it’s the key to overall wellness. I’ve been on the road for the past year and a half, and have only fallen ill with food poisoning twice (very mild cases). I contribute my strong constitution to taking a high-grade probiotic and eating fermented foods daily. My probiotic of choice is Green Vibrance because it not only includes 25 billion probiotics, but it also includes an array of greens and vitamins. Look out for their individually sealed travel packs. If you prefer the convenience of a pill, I recommend Ultra Flora Spectrum.

2. Grapefruit Seed Extract

This is a lifesaver. If you have a parasite or have been introduced to bad bacteria from food, this stuff will flush it out pronto. Eating papaya seeds first thing in the morning also helps kill parasites*.

3. The Airplane Combo Pack

One of the best ways to combat jetlag is to get rest on the plane. I know this isn’t always easy, but I have found that bringing a neck pillow, eye mask, and lavender oil helps me get more ZZZ’s. The eye mask blocks out the light from my neighbor’s movie screen, the pillow adds more comfort, and the lavender oil helps with relaxation.

4. Healthy Snacks

When traveling you are many times at the mercy of restaurants. Seeing as you can’t always predict when the next eatery will pop up, carrying healthy snacks with you is crucial. Things like unsalted almonds, cashews and walnuts are excellent for balancing your blood sugar levels and keeping your hunger at bay. Rx Bars are also easy options, as are individual protein powder packs.

In addition, I always travel with an emergency supply of oats in case I find myself in a pinch. I make a few individual servings in Ziploc bags with oats, cinnamon, goji berries, chia seeds, and walnuts, and I always carry a tin cup and spoon so I can make a meal wherever I go. When I find myself starving and without healthy options, I simply pour my prepared bag of oats in my handy cup, add a little hot water (or cold if not available), and lunch is served.

5. Magnesium Citrate

It’s very easy to get constipated while traveling. This is understandable as travel routines can be unpredictable, and your body isn’t getting the same food it’s used to. A simple solution is to take a few Magnesium Citrate (around 300-400 mg) at bedtime, and constipation will not be an issue.

All right folks, if you follow these five tips, you are more likely to enjoy your trip without all the not so glamorous side effects.

And don’t forget to bring a BPA-free, or stainless steel water bottle along with you. Fill it up religiously and keep track of how many you are drinking a day. I cannot stress how crucial it is to get your two liters (or more if traveling somewhere hot!). Trust me, it’s all too easy to get dehydrated while traveling, as you are distracted with all the new exciting sights and smells.

Happy Travels!

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*If you are pregnant, do not consume papaya seeds, as it could terminate the pregnancy.

Travel Tips: How to Avoid MSG in Asia

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I love traveling and I love trying new foods, but I do not love MSG. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly found in most Asian cuisines, and I’ve been dosed more than once while traveling in southeast Asia this year.  I have an extreme allergy to MSG, resulting in migraines and flu-like body aches for a few days if I’m exposed to the stuff. But if you don’t have a severe allergy like me, you should still avoid MSG as it is extremely damaging to your health.

Most places in Thailand use MSG, which is frustrating, and I have had to be incredibly alert to stay away from the toxic stuff. I didn’t have a problem in India or Vietnam, but avoiding MSG was also a real issue in Indonesia and Malaysia.  Consequently, over the last year I’ve become an expert at dodging MSG!

Here are my 7 tips to help you avoid MSG on your next vacation to Asia:

1. Do not trust a restaurant’s claim of being “MSG-free”.

This is the Golden Rule, folks. Just because a restaurant advertises that it is MSG-free, don’t start getting green curry happy.  Trust me, I’ve been dosed a few times this way. Most times it’s not because the restaurant is purposefully trying to deceive its customers. The owner most likely genuinely believes their food is MSG-free. However, as I discussed in my article Why MSG is Toxic and How You Can Avoid ItMSG hides under many different names, and is found in many flavoring packets and sauces. The same ones which the restaurant most likely uses in their curries, soups, fried rices, etc. Yes they might not add that skull and cross bones shaker of white crystals conspicuously labeled MSG to their dishes, but they might still be using flavoring powders with a form of MSG to prepare their food.

2. If it tastes sweet and salty and the same time, be wary.

This is the ultimate sign to your taste buds that the dish you are eating has MSG.

3. Carry a picture saying”NO MSG” written in the language of the country you are in. 

I have this on my iPhone and I carry it around everywhere.

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“NO MSG” in Thai

4.  When in doubt, avoid the sauce.

MSG is usually all in the sauce. Your picture saying “NO MSG” might work, and the cook might have the best intentions. However, there is still a chance you may get dosed, seeing as MSG is hidden under many different names. If I’m at an establishment that I don’t fully trust, I ask for my veggies to be steamed or stir- fried with no sauce (I have a picture on my phone saying no sauce in the language of the country I’m in). I also ask for no salt, because sometimes their “salt” is MSG.

5. Carry a small bottle of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt with you.

Seeing as steamed veggies can get old real quick, I carry a small bottle of natural sea salt with me to give my dish some flavor.

6. Eat at restaurants advertised as “Vegan”. 

It’s not hard to find vegetarian restaurants in Asia, but I’ve found that this is not a guarantee for MSG-free food. However, I’ve found restaurants advertised as “vegan” are usually MSG free. Most times, they even advertise “No MSG” on their menu. So look up vegan restaurants on Happy Cow and support those establishments. Halaal

7.Eat at Muslim-run restaurants.

Seek out Muslim-run restaurants. These establishments do not use MSG, as it is not Halal. While in Thailand, I’ve eaten many delicious Thai meals at restaurants owned by Thai Muslims.

Good luck and happy travels!

Health Coach Jenna

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