We can all eat too much at festival times, which leaves us feeling bloated and tired in January so here are my mini tips for helping support your gut health at Christmas.
Give Your Gut Microbes The Gift of Fibre
To help keep your gut microbes in a good mood don’t restrict their food intake over Christmas. The microbes in our gut tend not to care for cake and crisps too much, and they love fibre from plants like pulses, vegetables and wholegrains.
If you’re eating lots of mince pies, chocolates and party snacks your gut bacteria may be starving away whilst you’re feeling full.
Here are my tips for supporting your gut health at Christmas:
- Add in the good stuff – don’t worry too much about NOT eating certain foods, but try to keep up the vegetable intake each day. How about soup for lunch, or a veg smoothie with breakfast to boost your intake.
- At a buffet ensure to include veggies on your plate – a few carrot sticks, or slices of pepper and celery with hummus, a few spoons of coleslaw, and any fresh fruit are a great addition to your plate. These will help to feed the bugs.
- Eat some protein before you leave for a party, something like fish, eggs or beans will help fill you up so you’re less likely to eat all the crisps.
- Enjoy what you eat! Concentrate on all the flavours and relax about food. When we’re stressed our gut microbes can’t relax and do their work either, so it’s good to be calm when you eat.
- Keep your bowel movements regular – if you’re going away for Christmas and you’re someone who can’t relax about going to the toilet at someone else’s house try not to keep it all in. When we ignore the signals to our brain from the bowel it can start to disrupt the mechanisms and can lead to issues with the bowel. So if you’re visiting family or friends this Christmas don’t let embarrassment get the better of you and stay regular.
- Flaxseeds can help to form a softer stool, so add to your porridge or soak some seeds in water and drink
- Fibre – increasing the bulk in our stools help to keep bowel movements regular. Think of eating more oats, vegetables, wholegrains and pulses. Fruit can also help, especially apples and pears. Also dried fruits are known to have a laxative effect.
- Movement – walking, dancing, exercising anything that gets your blood pumping round can help to get things moving.
Avoid Bloating This Christmas
- Chewing your food properly and not talking with your mouth full can help stop swallowing too much air
- Support your liver – our liver loves bitter foods which stimulate our digestive juices and help us break down food effectively. Start your day with a glass of warm water and fresh lemon juice to kick start your digestions each day. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables, aim for one portion of greens every day. Include bitter foods in your diet, like lemon, grapefruits or lime, bitter greens like rocket, radicchio. Eat cruciferous veg like broccoli, sprouts, kale and cauliflower. These contain glucosinolates which support the liver detox.
- Boost your stomach acid – If you’re getting heartburn from all the rich Christmas food your digestive powers might need a boost. Stomach acid is our first defence against the bad bugs (h.pylori, parasites, infections) and it’s important in digestion of food too, especially protein. When we eat food the stomach juices trigger an enzyme which starts protein digestion, and it also helps us absorb key minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc.
Gut Healthy Drinks This Christmas
- Water – Start each day with some warm water. It’s a great way to re hydrate each morning, you can add lemon if you like the taste.
- Turmeric latte – warming and spicy, it can help us remember the golden glow of summer whilst it’s cold. To make it blitz up 1cm turmeric root, 1cm ginger root, a bit of oat milk and 2 cardamom pods in a Nutribullet, then add to more oat milk and heat through on the hob. You could add a bit of honey if needed. Add some black pepper which helps with the absorption of the active ingredients in turmeric. This is lovely as a bedtime drink, or in place of any afternoon caffeine drink. If you don’t have a Nutribullet you can grate the spices.
- Green Tea – Swapping out one cup of tea for a green tea can help you feel less stressed because green tea contains an amino acid called l-theonine which supports nervous system health. It’s also a prebiotic, which feeds beneficial gut bacteria like Bifidobacterium.
- Digestive Herbal Teas – Peppermint tea can encourage burping, helping to push gas back up after a meal which stops it going lower in our digestion causing bloating. Ginger, Fennel and Chamomile tea can also be soothing for the gut.
If you’re still feeling sluggish in January, join the next 7 Day Gut Reset online package to sort out your digestion issues. It’s a 7 day meal plan with daily information about developing and maintaining good gut health and lots more.