Preventing Traveler’s Diarrhea Can Be Surprisingly Tasty. See How I Did It.

By on January 31, 2016
Prevent Traveler's Diarrhea with Prebiotic Resistant Starch in Potatoes

Potato chips for Preventing Traveler’s Diarrhea? It doesn’t seem likely, but it’s a cheap and easy trick that actually works… if you do it right. And it’s FAR safer for preventing traveler’s diarrhea, than to wait until you get it and take dangerous antibiotics, such as the Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics, that are often used for the treatment of diarrhea, that can cause dangerous ‘superinfections’ such as C-Difficile Infection.

But before I tell you how to make potato chips your best friend on a trip to a foreign land, first I’ll tell you how I know it works. Since my honey and I both have managed to replace our J.O.B. with passive income from our websites, we decided to do some traveling.

We found a house-sitting assignment on the beach in Uruguay for a few months, then traveled around South America, going to Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and even a small island outpost of Great Britain for the next 5 months without having any digestive problems. Not once. Not a twinge. We consistently ate raw fruits and vegetables from the markets, drank drinks with ice in them (there is no way we would have avoided Pisco Sours, the favorite local alcoholic beverage of Peruvians and Chileans alike!), ate street food without thinking twice about it, brushed our teeth from the faucet tap, and even drank tap water intentionally in all countries except Bolivia. We did just about everything the OPPOSITE of what the travel guides tell you you need to do for preventing traveler’s diarrhea.

We took our potato chips with us wherever we went, having a few with most breakfasts and carrying them around as snacks, particularly on buses, trains, and hiking where we’d be unlikely to find anything healthy to eat. Although in Argentina, on long bus trips, they give you a meal that usually contained either mashed potatoes or rice. Since the meals were precooked, then kept chilled until they were reheated right before giving them to you, these meals also contained the magic substance that helped us to prevent traveler’s diarrhea.

While we can’t give all the credits to potato chips, we certainly ate as healthy as possible, stayed away from junk food, didn’t eat sources of food that looked or smelled bad, and we also went through a bottle of Prescript Assist Probiotics while we were in Uruguay. But potato chips were certainly our secret weapon in preventing traveler’s diarrhea. We also AVOIDED handwashing (See The Truth About Handwashing to see why we avoided washing our hands) as much as possible except in obviously ‘gross’ situations, as we wanted to inoculate ourselves with the local bacteria. Two months of traveling without so much as a hint of illness or Traveler’s Diarrhea put our theory to a successful rigorous ‘n=2’ test.

How Potato Chips Help in Preventing Traveler’s Diarrhea

OK, so what kind of potato chips does this work with? ONLY potato chips that you make yourself by oven roasting, then putting them in the refrigerator to chill at least overnight. I’m not joking. You can warm them up again, or put them in a bag to eat at room temperature, but you MUST roast them and chill them. You can also just bake regular potatoes, chill them and eat them as a baked potato the next day, but I found they are not as convenient to carry while traveling, nor do they taste as good as a snack. So, we made them into potato chips instead.

Resistant Starch is Your Secret Weapon

While using cooked and cooled potatoes sounds more like a placebo than something for preventing traveler’s diarrhea, there is actually tons of science behind why this works. You see, when you cook and cool potatoes, some of the starch in the potato changes into a different kind of starch that your body cannot digest. This undigested starch is called ‘resistant starch’. While resistant starch can’t be digested by YOU, the Good Bacteria in your gut just LOVE to eat this ‘prebiotic’ starch, and it helps them to grow and thrive.

When these good bacteria in your gut grow and thrive, they can ‘crowd out’ any of the Prevention of Traveler's Diarrhea Can Be Surprisingly Tasty. See How I did it. bad bugs that can lead to traveler’s diarrhea. If you happen to get a bad bug in your water or food while traveling, if you are regularly feeding your good bacteria with prebiotics, like those found in resistant starch, the bad bugs are less likely to stick to your intestinal wall, reproduce, and make you sick.

This trick also works with cooked and cooled rice, so Asia is an easy place to reproduce this trick with local ingredients. Raw green bananas and raw green plantains are good sources of resistant starch, as well, but are not palatable to most people. If you do have access to green bananas or green plantains, you can put a small amount in a smoothie with coconut milk and some sort of sweet fruit to mask the flavor.

Dehydrating raw green plantains and bananas is also an excellent way to preserve the resistant starch, but must be done at low temperature, like that found in arid desert climates. See our Resistant Starch Guide to see a list of many of the food sources that contain this magical bug-growing substance, along with the ways that they need to be prepared in order to allow them to retain their healthy bug-growing properties.

How I Make My Resistant Starch Potato Chips

Any potatoes will work for this, so long as they are not sweet potatoes or yams. They must be regular potatoes. You can use white, red, brown, purple, it doesn’t matter, just whatever you have available. Cut them up into chip-sized pieces, toss them in olive oil or coconut oil, season them with salt and whatever seasonings you happen to have on hand that sound interesting. Generously grease the pan with extra olive oil or coconut oil to prevent them from sticking, and cook at 300-350 degrees F until they get slightly brown. Flip them over and cook until the other side is brown. Take them out and put them into the refrigerator or other cold environment for at least 8 hours.

You can eat them right out of the fridge. They will be chewy and not crispy. Or you can warm them up again, or even cook them until they are a little crispier, if you like. If you make them less crispy, you can chop them up into pieces and saute them with eggs and vegetables as a breakfast ‘hash’. We put them in a bag and keep them in my purse or backpack for snacks to eat just like they are. They will keep for days without refrigeration.

Certainly, there is no guarantee preventing traveler’s diarrhea will work in everyone, but it worked for us, even while we ate street food in Bolivia, when many other traveler’s had become quite sick in Bolivia, and Bolivia is well-known to afflict travelers with digestive problems due to it’s low hygiene standards.

While we don’t recommend that you eat potato chips as your only method of protection from the bugs where you are going, and avoiding handwashing and drinking tap water may be too adventurous for you, adding resistant starch and Prescript Assist Probiotics in addition to any other protective measures you might take can certainly give you an extra measure of protection from dangerous pathogens you might encounter in foreign lands, or at your local salad bar. For more ways to protect yourself, read my post on 4 Unusual Ways to Prevent Traveler’s Diarrhea.

About Kerri Knox, RN

The author is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner. With 20 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in both Conventional Medicine and Alternative Medicine. She can help you to to find and repair the underlying causes of chronic illness, while empowering you to take charge of your own health. She is the owner and author of this blog and website.

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