On Dirty Hands and The Sahara
Benefits needed: Digestive aid / stomach balancer from Green Tea Leaf powder, organic Black Chia seeds, Vitamin C, D3, magnesium and selenomethionine.
Concept/Takeaway: We eat food that's new to us and cooked in odd-to-us ways while we travel. That's great! But it's also shocking to our stomach and digestive tract. Constant diarrhea and constipation is common, but now it doesn't have to be.
The Story: Okay, looking back now I can laugh. And honestly, it was so disgusting that I think I even laughed a little then, because what else could I do, really…
I walked out of the bathroom into my hostel bedroom, never having been so disgustingly sick in my life. I close the door behind me to try and spare anyone any bit that I could. I then look up, noticing the boy in the bed above my own. My embarrassed eyes quickly turn apologetic. He looks down at me, and in a thick Arabic accent, says “you too?!” We hold eye contact for a moment, I give a pouty face, and we both start laughing. “I was in the Sahara for a few days on a caravan,” I say, “I’m not sure exactly what went wrong.”
“I was doing the same thing!” he excitedly says back. Then his smile drops. “Oh shoot, my turn again.” He awkwardly hops down from the top bunk and all too hurriedly jogs into the bathroom.
I decided to give him some space and start walking around the hostel, noticing how all of the bathrooms seem to be full. “Hm… Well, at least I don’t really need to be embarrassed,” I think to myself. Of course, I still am, but it’s not as bad as when I thought everyone was going to coin me “The Smelly Girl,” and leave me friendless. (Though intrusive thoughts like this are always silly in hostels. Everyone is traveling. Everyone is always teetering the line between healthy and grossly ill depending on their last consumed meal. No one cares at all if you sprint to the bathroom in the middle of a hangout or if you don’t. There’s no judgment, we all get it. But you still never feel great about it, nor does your stomach.)
Well, I’ve seen this hostel scene all too many times. It just so happens that I was a part of the commotion in Morocco when I normally am not. My stomach is typically pretty strong. Sometimes too strong, leaving me in the opposite boat. Honestly, this is just as bad. (I’m a little coy talking about all of this in a blog because you’re an anonymous person on the internet, and I clearly have a name and face. But when you're at a hostel, people talk about being constipated or having diarrhea whenever they feel they need to, because maybe someone else is feeling the same and can join in on their pains.) I’ve noticed the same health trends in hotels, it’s just never mentioned because you don’t really talk to people other than who you’ve come with.
Due to how often I’ve heard these conversations, and how often I’ve become a part of them, I’ve realized that this bathroom situation is a big problem! No matter which side of the coin you’re on, it stinks. (Shitty pun intended). (Ope, she did it again.) Anyways, I never want to take any aggressive pharmaceuticals from a random drug store to help, because I’m a very earthy gal, and I really hate the idea of messing with my system. Also, to put it bluntly, one day you’re in the bathroom having absolutely terrible diarrhea all day, and one week later you only visit the restroom to pee. Literally. Nothing else. (Oh, well to fix your hair too. You also go to the bathroom to fix your hair, of course.) Well, when your stomach is fluctuating so rapidly while in different countries, how are you supposed to plan which drugs to take each day?! Maybe you take the wrong pill and suddenly whichever problem you were about to have has doubled. Gross! Ouch! Yikes!
Well, this was clearly one of the first problems I thought about when making my one-and-done supplements. I needed to help both sides of people (the ones stuck in the bathroom all day, and the ones only visiting the bathroom to fix their hair), because typically it’s actually all the same person! Just in a different place with different foods! Maybe this “help both sides” felt a little unattainable. But when has that literally ever stopped me? If I wasn’t up for a challenge I wouldn’t have stayed in Morocco after the bed bugs, only to get painstakingly horrible diarrhea two weeks later, and still figure out a way to hitchhike intercontinentally up through Spain to France.
Help all the poopy and non-poopy people at once? Pff, challenge accepted. (And this time, I could shower while I figured the situation out.)
So, we (my hired, female pharmacist and I) did all of the research and came up with the best possible solution. Something to help with everyday life for both parties. A stomach balancer and digestive aid. We used calming ingredients like green tea leaf powder and organic black chia seeds to accomplish these goals. We considered adding probiotics, but there were a number of issues, so let me explain. You need many (literally billions) of probiotics for them to work. As soon as you leave them unrefrigerated, most of them die. Shockingly, most backpackers do NOT travel with a mini-fridge. (Upsetting for probiotics everywhere, I know.) For this reason, fresh probis were out.
We also considered adding freeze-dried probiotics but they basically don’t work, which also didn't seem great. So, at this point, our options were either putting in dead probiotics or putting in dead freeze-dried probiotics just to… what? Seem cute? To make people think they were getting more out of this supplement than they were? Yeah, that’s alright. I didn’t take make this supplement to pretend to work. I made it to actually work. (Shocking in this market, I know.) So, as you can imagine, probiotics did not make the cut in any form.
So, we put in these prior mentioned ingredients, and tons of vitamins that help with gut health (Vitamin C, D, magnesium and selenomethionine). The healthier you can keep your gut, the better equip you’ll be to handle something like a street taco in Mexico, or a dirty-handed cook in the desert. (Just to be clear, yes. We all came together and realized there was nowhere to wash your hands with soap after using the bathrooms in one of the places we got a meal in The Sahara… Not great. I’m not sure there was toilet paper either. Hm....)
Anywho, I’m not promising that you won’t get sick if you eat actual shit. But, if you’re doing something less parasitic, like simply trying some new street food, then you'll probably be okay if you're taking our vites.
These supplements really calm your stomach and allow your digestive tract to function properly, even while odd foods are running through it. People taking the supplement have been reaching out lately telling us that their normal, everyday stomach problems have gone away, too. That’s super cool. One person even told us that they had been suffering from dull, annoying, stomach pain for so long (no matter what diet they tried), without any way to ease it. They had given up on finding a solution because they were tired of failing. And now? The daily pain is gone! Just like that. That made me feel really, really great.
Our overarching approach with this entire supplement was that by providing holistic, whole-body wellness, coupled with specific ingredients to help with each travel illness we saw the most, our users would have the best chance of staying healthy and happy.
So, go ahead, eat that street food. Test out your new supps and report back. We know we have! (Spoiler alert, they’re sick.) (But like, in the way that means really good.)
Oh, but if you’re going to eat in the Sahara (rather than, idk, fast for three days), I’d still bring the Imodium. We’re not promising magic here, people.
P.S. How much would it suck to work at that hostel in Morocco where everyone always comes back sick from the desert? Like, we travelers can leave once we can get off of the toilet for more than 20 minutes. Those employees have to show up to this smelly place every day! That hostels turnover rate must be outstanding.
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