Christmas is quickly approaching, and at The Gut Co, we are aware of all the changes that can bring to your diet and lifestyle. Here are a few tips to make sure you can give your gut the best chance of thriving over the festive season!
Find a Balance
Gut health can be surprisingly delicate; if you eat too much at once, it can be stressful for your digestive system to cope with. Too much food being ingested in a short period of time can cause it to get stuck, and over the Christmas period, food is often available in abundance.
If you consume too much food at once, it can get stuck and take longer to be digested. This can cause bloating and excess gas, which can be uncomfortable and painful.1 To make sure you don’t suffer over the festive season, your best bet is to indulge intelligently.
By eating smaller amounts often, you give your body a better chance to digest what you put in, absorb the nutrients and remove the toxins from your body. The digestive system works better when it is not overwhelmed, so enjoy the food, but take your time where you can!
Consume Probiotic-rich Food
The gut thrives when it is given probiotic-rich foods, so adding some of these to the menu can really benefit your digestive health. Probiotics are live bacteria, which improves the diversity of the gut microbiome; crucial for good gut health.2
Yoghurt is a fantastic source of probiotics, so adding this to your breakfast can give your gut a nutritious head start on busy days across the holidays.3 Just make sure to choose one that doesn’t have a load of added sugar, as excess sugar can unsettle the balance of the gut microbiome by fuelling the bad bacteria in your colon.4
Sauerkraut, a fermented pickled cabbage, can be a great side dish to add to your Christmas dinner or leftovers. As well as being rich in probiotics, it also contains fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium making it a nutritious addition to your diet.5
Go Easy on the Booze
Alcohol can be detrimental to your gut health, and it’s safe to say many of us overinduldge on booze over the Christmas holidays. Celebrations with friends and family can lead to excess alcohol consumption, so it’s important to be aware of the effect this can have on your body.
Alcohol can alter bile-acid metabolism, which can affect the bacteria in the gut microbiome and lead to an imbalance between the bacteria that leads to health issues across the body.6
Alcohol can also cause acid reflux and indigestion due to increasing the amount of stomach acid, causing it to rise up the oesophegus and cause discomfort.7
This increased stomach acid can also wear away the lining of your gut, leading to leaky gut; a condition in which the gut lining wears away and lets toxins and food particles enter your bloodstream. This can cause fatigue, brain fog, skin issues, joint pain and many more unpleasant symptoms.8
Indulging in alcohol is generally absolutely fine, and these health concerns associated with alcohol are usually caused by chronic use of the substances. It is important to be mindful of how much you are consuming and how often, to best protect yourself from any unwanted consequences.
Sleep is fundamental to our gut health, and often simply overlooked. For your gut to function properly, it must be given adequate time to rest and rejuvenate. To ensure you get enough sleep, watch out for hidden sources of caffeine!
At Christmas, we are more likely to indulge in different foods than usual. This may mean you accidentally consume caffeine in chocolate or ice-cream before bedtime. Having caffeine in your system at bedtime can reduce the amount of REM sleep you get, meaning your body will not be as well rested as it should be.9
To give your body the best chance of digesting those late night indulgences over Christmas, sleep on your left side. Your stomach naturally sits on your left side, so sleeping this way ensures gravity can help the waste travel from the small intestine to the large intestine smoothly.10
If your body isn’t adequately hydrated, your digestive system will struggle to process the food you are putting in; fluid is essential for the food to move through the digestive tract. Over the festive period, out of routine and busy, you are perhaps more likely to forget to drink water as regularly as you usually would.
Don’’t worry, water isn’t the only thing that will keep you hydrated. Although it’s good to continue drinking as much water as you fancy, 100% fruit juice, caffeine-free teas, low-fat milks and foods such as raw fruit and vegetables are all going to benefit your digestive system massively.
Making sure you have some tasty hydrating options ready to grab can help you to ensure you don’t forget to hydrate.
The most important thing at this time of year is that you enjoy yourself and relax; experiencing some excess gas, drinking a few more than normal or lacking sleep for a week certainly isn’t going to ruin your health long-term.
If you have the time and capacity to be aware of your digestive health this Christmas, these are just a few tips to ensure you avoid any unnecessary discomfort, and can focus all your energy on yourself and loved ones.
Merry Christmas from all of us at The Gut Co x