Each of us has different stomach sensitivity and eating habits. Travelling is fun but unfortunately it also weakens our body, especially when we travel to exotic countries with different gut flora. It causes that even a few sips of dirty water or a few grapes may end up with a very serious poisoning for us or, at best, spending the whole day in a toilet. It’s not worth taking such a risk especially during short trips because we’re not flying to the other part of the world to spend the first week in a bathroom. And what about antibiotics?

Antybiotics and 4 things you should buy before travel 

It’s true that we can never be 100% sure that we won’t catch anything, but we can always minimalize this risk. I have a very sensitive stomach myself and I often feel pains after a more lavish meal or a few-day conference with catering. During my trips I’ve never had any problems with my stomach which cannot be said of my friends. Sometimes it’s not also good to save too much as we should bear in mind that our health and life is priceless. Those of my friends who during a coach tour in Morocco drank tap water learned their lesson. Having returned, they spend the whole week being treated from fever and very serious poisoning. What they saved on food was later spent on medicine. Besides, of course, a sceptical and careful approach to what we eat, it’s also worth investing into 4 things- probiotic, calcium, carbon and an antibiotic for traveller’s diarrhoea. This is my personal advise.

What helps probiotic?

The probiotic protects our digestive system against negative effect of changing an eating habit. Each probiotic consists of selected bacterial cultures and yeasts, mostly from lactic acid which has a beneficial influence on our digestive track by preserving good microbiota. Thanks to it our body takes it well when we eat exotic food, unusual spices or different water. This product is neither expensive nor unavailable. While choosing a brand you should always check the number of bacteria. The more, the better. For me one pill a day was enough, but in some cases we may need more, so it’s always good to have a bigger box.

Before taking any medicine consult a doctor or pharmacist for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

What helps calcium?

While calcium is called white gold because it’s practically good for everything, especially when we get bitten or stung, allergic or burnt by some plant. I’m allergic myself to spiders and some insects which often ends up with swelling or rash. Each time calcium comes to my rescue and eases the symptoms. It helped me when I got stung by a bee falling off a tree or when my friend got bitten by some insects at night.

Before taking any medicine consult a doctor or pharmacist for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

What helps carbon?

When we have a stomach ache or some food poisoning, then carbon which our mums gave us when we were kids becomes very useful. In case of a small poisoning without a fever, carbon will ease the symptoms and will make us feel better. In order for carbon to dissolve in our body and cleanse toxins, it’s important to drink plenty of water.

Before taking any medicine consult a doctor or pharmacist for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

What helps and when take antibiotics?

If our poisoning isn’t over after one day it may mean a more serious food poisoning, the so called traveller’s diarrhoea namely the most frequent ailment during travelling, especially to exotic countries. The main symptom is fever. In this case the only thing which can effectively help us is an antibiotic. I personally recommend Xifaxan. Also available in boxes of 14 and 28 tablets. A bigger box will be sufficient for 2 people and it will come out a bit cheaper. One usually has to take 2 tablets every 8 hours approximately for 4 days. It has an antibacterial action and, which is the most important, it acts directly on our intestines where the epicentre of our ailment takes place. In this way it doesn’t weaken us like ordinary antibiotics do.

Before taking any medicine consult a doctor or pharmacist for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

It’s effective only in cases of digestive system diseases and traveller’s diarrhoea, it mustn’t be taken to cure other diseases. It also finds an application in cases of hepatic encephalopathy, a disorder of central nervous system functioning caused by toxins as a result of liver damage. It may occur as a result of medicines, toxins acute inflammations, viruses or alcohol. My friend once developed it after he had consumed Russian vodka.

Alcohol or water?

We should remember that an antibiotic is a last resort and sometimes, besides carbon, drinking herbal teas and even an alcohol may help. Mind you that I don’t talk you into an alcohol consumption in large quantities. I only want to say that while travelling in exotic countries it’s good to have a little bottle of vodka with you and have a shot at certain meals. Alcohol has an antibacterial activity and even if a certain meal was toxic, alcohol will probably neutralise it.

Let’s remember, that it’s only a prophylactic effect and, most of all, we should drink plenty of water.

Every doctor will tell you that water is good for everything, and in different climatic conditions our body needs even greater irrigation. It’s especially important when it comes to food poisoning, which I’ll tell you about based on my friend Karolina who I travelled with to Mexico.

21. papryczka cayanne

Since the very beginning of our trip we assumed that we would try local specialities of Mexican cuisine. This, however, is far different from the one we know from Mexican restaurants in Europe. First of all, it contains a lot of stodgy corn as tortillas are mainly made of corn flour and their mild sauces are like our hot ones. For example, the sauce I tried in Maya village paralysed my lips for 30 min. I hardly licked it. I’m afraid to think what would have happened if I had taken it with my chicken. It all causes that our stomach may experience a small shock. To all this there come ice cubes which are sometimes made of dirty tap water and carelessly washed vegetables. In other words, it doesn’t take much to get a food poisoning.

How Karolina get poisoning?

We tried with Karolina to keep and preserve all rules for nutrition. We even ate the same things. Additionally, I always disinfected hands and cutlery with antibacterial gel (yes, I’m a bit obsessed with cleanliness). For a few first days we felt good, but on the penultimate evening in Guanajuato we both started to feel sick. At the first moment I thought it was because of heat and the smell of gasoline. But after Karo had vomited her food a few times I started to worry. We came back home earlier and went to bed. I hoped Karo would digest everything through the night and would feel better the next day. Unfortunately it got even worse. Karo kept vomiting since the morning, sometimes even with water only, and felt awful. I worried she could get dehydrated as she had a gag reflex even for water due to her food poisoning.

View on Guanajuato city from mountain called Cerro del Cubilete which we didn't want to miss
View on Guanajuato city from mountain called Cerro del Cubilete which we didn’t want to miss

It was only our fourth day in a journey so it was kind of lame that we would already have to go to hospital and give up on further sightseeing. I was sorry as I wanted to spend as much time as possible with Katalina, the girl we were visiting. I hadn’t seen her for 8 years but Karo’s health was the most important. I decided we should go to the doctor’s. But Karo played tough and said she would manage. I knew that just like me she wanted to go to Mexican thermal baths and then go to visit a lovely town of San Miguel de Allende. It wasn’t a good idea though. Water in pools is 40 degrees hot and it’s 30 degrees outside and Karolina didn’t eat anything since yesterday and drank only one herbal tea. She didn’t want to let go.


After a few-hour ride to the resort with thermal baths I was as hungry as a wolf unlike Karo. I talked her into eating at least one bite of tortilla or drinking some juice. She didn’t want to. While Catalina proposed michelada (beer with tomato juice , soy , lime and chilli ), which is a favorite summer drink in Mexico. Carolina did not even want to look at it .

I21. tequila

But she accepted a bartender’s offer of tequila. You can imagine her surprise when it turned out that one tequila glass was 3 times as big as the one vodka was usually drank from. Karo managed to empty a glass. After a few minutes she came back to our table with red cheeks and sparkling eyes. I thought- just great, not only food poisoned, hungry and now drunk. Meanwhile Karolina claimed she was getting better. Meanwhile I couldn’t stand the heat in thermal baths any more. Karolina, on the other hand, loved high temperature and tequila. After 2 hours Karolina was as good as new and ready to start sightseeing in san Miguel de Allende.

Who would have thought that Karolina was saved by tequila? Do you have similar experience? Share your ways to protect against food poisoning in the comments.

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