For most of us, the Christmas day food coma is part of the festivities. But ongoing celebrations can wreak havoc on your gut health. Feeling bloated and gassy with a sluggish digestive system is not the best way to spend your holidays. It is possible to have enjoy good food and wine and come out the other side feeling your best. Here’s my tips to love your gut this Christmas.
1. Top up on B Vitamins
B vitamins are a delicate group of nutrients that are easily destroyed. Top up those that alcohol wiped out with plenty of green and leafy veg, wholegrain breads and cereals, seeds, legumes, diary and eggs (basically, a nice variety of whole foods). You can get supplements, but most people don’t need them.
2. Give your liver a break
Schedule in some alcohol free days. Your liver needs a few (2-3) 24 hour periods in a week where it doesn’t have to break down any alcohol. Remember it has other jobs to do too.
3. Get some good bacteria
Adding in a source of probiotics to your day will help keep your good gut bacteria thriving and willing to take on anything Christmas can throw at. A healthy gut microflora can help to regulate your digestion, assist nutrient absorption and improve those general digestive discomfort. Try having live cultured foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, Yakult, sourdough bread, kombucha or miso soup everyday. If you can’t see yourself eating probiotics regularly, get yourself a supplement.
Interestingly, your good gut bacteria need fed too. With starches we can’t digest called prebiotics. Good sources are garlic, leeks, onions, artichokes, under-ripe bananas and wholegrain wheat.
4. Slow down
Simply slowing down how quickly you eat and chewing your food well can help you avoid overeating and the gas, bloating and indigestion that follows. Put down your knife and fork between mouthfuls and have a chat. You’ll also have a better appreciation for just how delicious that dessert really is.
5. Drink more water
It’s even more important to stay hydrated when you’re busy, drinking alcohol and eating a lot. Water will also help with digestion and warding off constipation.
6. Keep moving
You don’t need to do an intensive workout to benefit from movement. A brisk walk or a game of street cricket is enough. You’ll be less likely to feel bloated and the blood flow helps to get your digestion muscles working too.
When it’s too late and you need digestive first aid:
- Try sipping peppermint or ginger tea to feel less bloated.
- Drink plenty of water to help your kidneys do their job, beat constipation and to stay hydrated.
- Give your body a break from alcohol and spicy or rich food (high fat or high sugar).
- Keep moving to get your digestive system working and avoid lying down which can make indigestion worse.
If your tummy troubles are ongoing, get in touch for an action plan to improve your gut health and make it happy again.