Three Secret Weapons to Fight Travel Constipation

Traveling Without Backing-up

Change in routine, diet, climate and physical activity can all have a disrupting effect on bowel function. Over the years, both traveling in the wilderness and traveling in general, I’ve learned the importance of staying regular. Luckily, there are a few easy things you can do to keep things moving internally.

The following is not prescriptive or medical advice – it is for general information purposes only. I don’t know your diet, activity level, health and medical requirements, etc., and besides, people are just different from one another, and what works for one person may not for another. In Short – I am not a health care professional; the following is from personal experience only – take it as you will.

Oil

As a macro nutrient, fat is an important dietary component and its constituent fatty acids can be found in a variety of oil products. Because my diet while camping is usually low in fat, I often bring olive oil. It’s easy to obtain and it keeps well under a relatively wide temperature range. I use it for cooking, or mixed in with foods such as spaghetti. Some people prefer rapeseed oil, flaxseed oil, or the like, just be aware of preservation limitations. I think of oil as an ounce of prevention, a week without it and (for me) things start seizing.

Related topics: Essential fatty acids, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.

Water

It is easy to become a little dehydrated while outdoors, especially if involved in an activity such as hiking or paddling; sometimes you forget, or just don’t feel like stopping, to have a drink. Having a water bottle within easy reach is always a good idea, as water is very important to proper body function in general. Water is used throughout the digestive process, from chewing to evacuation, and staying properly hydrated is key to keeping things moving.

Research keywords if you’re interested: effects of dehydration, water and digestion

Fiber

Besides whole grains, dried fruit, nuts and the like, I also bring a container of psyllium fiber on trips longer than a few days. I find a low dose on a regular basis works best for me. As it is a highly soluble fiber, psyllium should be taken with a good amount of water, 8oz per 10g of fiber is recommended. Many people seem to prefer flaxseed as their source of fiber, as they are sensitive to psyllium. I personally find flaxseed doesn’t sit well with me.

Related topics if you’re interested: soluble fiber, insoluble fiber

Everyone is Different

Knowing how your body behaves to the various stresses you put it through is important to remaining comfortable while in the field. When trying something new, give it three or four days; don’t give up after only a day with no results. You will likely find that after a week or two, your body will adapt to its current situation and you can adjust accordingly. Also, I highly recommend experimenting at home, well in advance of any trip – learn what works for you.