You may have heard that drinking the water in Mexico or China will make you sick, or that eating fresh fruit from a street vendor will lock you in the bathroom for a week. Yet all of the locals do it, and they seem fine. Personally, street food is one of the greatest joys on Earth. What’s the secret to being able to eat and drink freely when you travel? Yogurt.
When you live somewhere, you breathe the air and eat the food from that area regularly. Your body builds up a little ecosystem that helps you tolerate the bad bits while making the most of the good bits. The entire reason humans are so prolific is because they are so adaptable, and this is no exception.
How do you make your stomach a local?
Well, you need to introduce the ecosystem the locals have that help them digest their food as quickly as possible without causing damage. The best way to do that is something called “probiotics”. It’s the opposite of the antibiotics your doctor prescribes to you. Instead of strip-mining your gut of everything, it adds some new aspects that help you digest things better. In short, it gives your gut superpowers.
Who doesn’t want those?
Unfortunately, every country has their own ecosystem, so you can’t just down some probiotic pills from your local drugstore and be good to go. You need to tap into their ecosystem. The easiest way to do this?
Yogurt is in nearly every country. Some places they serve it with fruit, some with honey, some are thick, some are more liquid, but they are all yogurt, and yogurt is full of probiotics.
Whenever I land in a new country, especially one known for dangerous food, I immediately seek out local yogurt to eat before anything else. Once their local ecosystem has made friends with the one I carry around in my gut all the time, they will work together to take on whatever food comes at it.
This isn’t a miracle cure, and locals do still get food poisoning sometimes, but as soon as I started eating yogurt for my first meal when I landed, my instances of getting sick dropped by 90%. I can’t argue with those results.
So don’t listen to what the commercials tell you. Yogurt isn’t just for grey hoodie-wearing women. It’s for you, the savvy traveler whose gut knows how to make friends.