How probiotics help prevent traveller’s diarrhoea

If you're travelling abroad to places with very different types of food and cooking and food storage methods, it is recommended to take a probiotic supplement before and during the visit.

Diarrhoea can be caused by a bowel infection eg. gastroenteritis, which in turn can be caused by

  • a virus, such as norovirus
  • bacteria, such as E. coli picked up from contaminated food, or
  • a parasite, often spread in contaminated water and caught in areas with poor hygiene.

This is often known as travellers' diarrhoea.

Diarrhoea causes dysbiosis - an imbalance in the gut microflora - with too few beneficial bacteria and an overgrowth of harmful micro-organisms. Dysbiosis then increases gut permeability and inflammation of the intestine.

Supplementing with probiotics encourages the ‘good’ live bacteria to colonise in the gut and crowd out the pathogens, thereby helping to reduce the duration and severity of, or prevent, diarrhoea. Indeed, studies show that the beneficial live bacteria may help to protect the gut epithelium from further invasion.

Researchers have therefore concluded that probiotic (live good bacteria) supplements are a useful addition to rehydration therapy in managing acute infectious diarrhoea. They have the greatest effect if given as soon as possible after the onset of diarrhoea.

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