Probiotics are Your Friend: Preventing Travelers Diarrhea

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Few things are less fun on a family trip than a bout of traveler’s diarrhea. Given estimates that 20 to 60 percent of travelers can be afflicted, odds are that sooner or later someone in your party will end up with digestive difficulties. Travel can have enough variables and potential headaches, so I began the search for ways to prevent traveler’s diarrhea from ruining everyone’s good time. While traveler’s diarrhea can be a problem found in areas with unreliable water sanitation, you can get it from fine dining establishments in first world locations as well (guess how I know!)

Probiotics, the helpful bacteria and yeasts that colonize our guts and keep the nasty bugs from taking over, can help maintain health and prevent gastrointestinal problems. In researching which probiotics work for what ailments, I discovered my new favorite miracle of modern probiotic science, Saccharomyces Bouldarii, a probiotic that has been studied for prevention of traveler’s diarrhea, and for use in the prevention of antibiotic related gastroenteritis.

We’re most familiar with probiotics such as various lactobacilli found in yogurt, but not all probiotics are the same, and not all will work in every circumstance. If you have to take antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection, guess what they kill? Yep – bacteria – the “pro” kind as well as the “will kill you” kind. So, eating a cup of yogurt with your daily dose of meds isn’t exactly going to be effective, the good lactobacilli will be eliminated by the action of the antibiotic, and you’re back at square one.

If you’re trying to prevent or cure other issues, like a case of traveler’s diarrhea, you need something that is portable, and needs no special storage conditions, and has some science behind it showing that it works to keep the bad bugs from taking over. Unlike lactobacilli, s. boulardii is stable at room temperature, no refrigeration needed – a huge bonus point for a traveling family.

S. boulardii

You can find S. boulardii by searching for it by name in most online vitamin shops. If you plan to try it out for prevention of traveler’s diarrhea and gastroenteritis, studies show that starting to take the supplements for about a week before departure will give you a good head start, and to continue taking it throughout the trip. Informal testing in my own family was done this past winter when we all came down with sinus infections that required some gnarly antibiotics. The results were good – no digestive difficulties to add to our misery, and no issues with any kind of side effects.

As always, check with your health care professional before taking medical advice from random ladies on the internet.

For more info about probiotics:

Wikipedia entry on S. boulardii – lots of citations and other info

S. boulardii studied for treatment of acute gastroenteritis in children

Prevention of antibiotic related diarrhea with S. boulardii

General information on probiotics

3 thoughts on “Probiotics are Your Friend: Preventing Travelers Diarrhea”

  1. Thanks for the share, Gina! This is really great information. I travel a lot myself, and traveler’s diarrhea was something that I had just come to think of as a part of the experience (albeit a miserable part). I’ll definitely try this out. Do you know if this is going to be readily available all over the world? Or is this something you’d have to stock up on in the states or somewhere? Thanks!

    • I buy mine online through – I noticed they do ship internationally, though I don’t know details as far as how much they charge and how reliable it is – from my own experience, they shipped very quickly, but I’m in upstate NY. I know that s. boulardii was discovered by a French biologist though, and the company Biocodex was the first to develop and market supplements of it – they sell the stuff all over the world, according to their website

      I’d say stock up – to get the best results, the studies show that you should start taking it at least 5 days before you travel. It builds up enough in your system then. It doesn’t need refrigeration (in fact, it’s best NOT to – to prevent moisture from messing with things) Once you stop taking it, it’s out of your system from 5-7 days later, so you would want to have a steady supply for your whole trip (haha I said trip ;-)). If you Google saccharomyces boulardii, you’ll see a bunch of non-sketchy vitamin sellers come up in the results, I’d stick with one you know and are comfortable with. The big popular brand in the States is Florastor, but it’s super expensive compared to others I’ve found that have worked just fine since they’re the same probiotic ingredient.

  2. I am not aware of this stuff but this one will definitely a good one to consider as prophylaxis to prevent green diarrhea I have discovered recently online.

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