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Holiday Travel, Bad Eating Habits a Recipe for Stomach Trouble

Give your jet-lagged gut time to recover, expert advises

FRIDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Travel and poor eating habits can cause stomach problems during the holidays, an expert says.

"Traveling can be very stressful, and it can be particularly hard on your gut. People tend to experience abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea or a combination of any of those problems during travel," Dr. Sandra Hoogerwerf, an assistant professor in the department of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, said in a prepared statement.

Travel can disrupt the internal body clock that regulates hunger and bowel movements.

"The gut's rhythm gets thrown off when you travel, especially across time zones. So, suddenly, you're awake when you should be sleeping, and you're eating when you're supposed to be sleeping. Essentially, your gut is jet-lagged, and that can cause a lot of gastrointestinal problems," Hoogerwerf said.

Try to give your gut time to catch up with the new schedule and re-establish its rhythm, she suggested.

"If you respect your biological rhythms, you're going to feel less irritated, less tired, less fatigued, and your gut is going to feel a lot better," she said.

Poor eating habits can aggravate travel-related stomach problems, Hoogerwerf warned.

"When people travel, they drink lots of carbonated drinks, snack in between meals and often gulp down their meals because they're in a hurry to catch a plane. This eating behavior only worsens the gastrointestinal problems that we already experience due to travel," she said.

While traveling, you should eat light and avoid caffeine and alcohol, Hoogerwerf recommended. In some cases, over-the-counter medications can help ease travel-related stomach problems, she added.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains indigestion.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, December 2007

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