How to Improve Gut Health During The Holiday Season
Holiday season is the best time to invest in your family and friends. It is this time of year when you can stop worrying about your work and feel relaxed. But this doesn’t mean that you overindulge and completely forget about your health. As we know, most celebrations are usually centered around the most delicious foods which are less in fiber and high in sugar. Consuming such foods in excess is not good for your gut health.
Opt for healthy foods even when all kinds of unhealthy but mouth-watering foods are displayed on the table. This will not only keep your gut health balanced but will also prevent the exaggeration of symptoms in those suffering from some serious gut diseases. Some common gut problems are irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. Highly processed foods like pastries and beverages with added artificial sweeteners can worsen the symptoms associated with these gut issues.
However, there are plenty of ways to avoid enhancing gut symptoms. Hence, the answer to “how to improve gut health”, especially during the holiday season depends upon how well you balance your eating habits. Some steps to keep your gut in tip-top shape are:
- START YOUR DAY WITH PROBIOTICS
Probiotics are living microbes that mimic the good bacteria in your gut. Probiotic-rich foods, therefore, help in lining up your stomach with some gut-friendly bacteria and are also a good source of nutrients. When probiotics are taken, one will digest his or her food more effectively and avoid digestive problems like stomach bloating or acidic reflux. Some common examples of probiotic foods are yogurt, kimchi, and miso. One doesn’t need to eat these foods as is, you may combine them with your regular meal. For instance, add yogurt to your favourite smoothie.
- FOCUS ON FIBROUS FOODS
Cooked grains, roasted potatoes and cooked vegetables all contain resistant starch that feeds your gut bacteria. These types of foods are also called prebiotics. Although prebiotics are found in a variety of food items, your holiday table will lack them and so will you miss these essential fibers. Therefore, focus on eating greens when available and pile up your plate with fiber-rich foods like salad or whole grains.
Fun Fact: Cabbage is a green vegetable which not only serves as a fibrous food but also shows probiotic benefits when fermented and turned into sauerkraut.
- BE MINDFUL OF YOUR FLUID INTAKE
Water is an essential part of your balanced diet. As per health professionals, about 6-8 glasses of water are recommended in a day for an adult. Water plays a significant role in flushing out bodily wastes, cushioning the joints and maintaining blood pressure within the safety limits. As per the gut is concerned, water acts as a transport medium for nutrients, vitamins and minerals throughout the body.
Water becomes essential during the holidays because you consume lots of dehydrating foods and drinks, like savory meals, salty treats, and festive alcoholic and caffeinated drinks. Hence, drinking plenty of water can keep your digestive system well-lubricated. This will help avoid dehydration and symptoms like acidic reflux, stomach bloating and constipation.
- REDUCE PORTION SIZE
Celebrations seem incomplete without mouth-watering delicacies. Therefore, you need to be careful about the portion size when adding different dishes to your plate. Consuming small portions more frequently is better than large meals in one go. This will keep you in check when you are feeling full and help the digestive system process food more easily.
- DESSERT OR DRINK
Do not fall for the sweet temptations displayed at the parties. One has to be mindful about choosing only one, a dessert or a sweetened beverage. This way you will help your gut consume less sugar, avoid acidic reflux and make your stomach happy the next day.
- CONSUME LESS ALCOHOL
Drinking alcohol in excess during the party can spoil your day. It will make you sick to your stomach and you are likely to face problems such as acid reflux, gastritis, bloating, and diarrhoea. You may also ruin your relationship with family members and friends by being over-drunk.
For most people, safe consumption means
- Not more than one drink a day for women
- Not more than two drinks a day for men
Don’t go hard on alcohol, rather choose low or alcohol-free drinks.
- HISTORY OF BAD GUT REACTIONS
One should not only be worried about how to improve gut health but must also be cautious of the food that stimulates a reaction from your gut. Your previous year’s party will help you be aware of the foods you need to avoid this year. For instance, did that chocolate pudding from last Christmas make you spend the holidays on the toilet? Steer clear of that this holiday season.
- EXERCISE REGULARLY
Although exercising regularly has a lot of benefits for our body and mind, it also answers the question of “how to improve gut health.” A little workout in the morning will keep your digestive system functioning effectively. Even the simple act of walking aids your food to move faster through your intestines. Good digestion will also reduce the chances of heartburn and acid reflux.
A post-meal walk will also give you an opportunity to enjoy the cold weather with your family and friends. Some other physical activities that you may practice during the day are cycling or cleaning the house.
- TIME TO RELAX
Holiday time is the most awaited time of the year because it gives you a break from your hectic work schedule. But getting too carried away will disturb your relaxation time as well. Make time to rest with relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness. If not, less time to relax will induce stress which further reduces the diversity of gut flora.
Whether it’s Easter lunch or Christmas dinner, be mindful while feasting, following these tips, will help you enjoy your holidays to the fullest while also keeping your gut healthy and happy.
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