Here comes the holidays and the rich, traditional foods that give us nostalgia.
A critical factor in maintaining a healthy gut relies on diet and 65% of Americans admit that the holidays is the time when they indulge in their worst diet of the year.
The good news is that good bacteria can be restored through the practice of healthy lifestyle habits and consuming more nutrient-rich foods.
For over 20 years, I’ve studied nutrition and the delicate balance of the microbiome. These are my five top tips for readers that will help them maintain a healthy and happy gut during the tempting holidays.
Foods to Avoid and Foods that Heal
The best advice is to practice balance during the holidays. No one can follow a perfectly healthy diet, and it’s important to enjoy yourself. Keep these facts in mind to stay informed on how your body chemically reacts to certain foods.
One delicious bite of dessert signals reward to the brain while spiking blood sugar and while not all desserts will wreak havoc on the gut, many traditional holiday dishes are excessively sweet. The same spike occurs from empty carbohydrates that might be consumed from dinner rolls or stuffing, and a fried turkey increases the likelihood of heartburn and acid reflux.
Statistically, lactose intolerance increases each year in the U.S. Custard or whipped cream can cause bloating or gas for these lucky eaters, and consuming an excess of alcohol will lead to inflammation and gut irritation.
To heal the gut, I suggest fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi and kefir which contain natural probiotics. Prebiotic polyphenols will promote beneficial bacteria and are in high amounts in berries and apples. To soothe and heal the gut lining, drink bone broth, which also has the added benefit of collagen.
How to Ease Stress
‘So much to do and so little time’ is the perfect phrase to describe the holidays. Stress is common whether it’s the desire to host the perfect holiday party, or an unexpected, delayed flight.
Too much stress can harm the gut. Before you agree to every social commitment, take a pause, and consider your time. Set healthy boundaries with families and friends.
No matter how busy you are, be sure to get plenty of sleep – at least seven to nine hours – as this helps your body recover. If the stress is so heavy that you have trouble shutting your eyes, then practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation. Studies show that meditating for 10 minutes a day is enough to restore your inner calm, over time.
Probiotics are Your Friends
The community of microorganisms in your gut thrives with the help of probiotics keeping you regular. Probiotics not only cultivate your community of microorganisms, they’re also capable of restoring the body to a healthier state after too many holiday sweets and treats.
At Plexus Worldwide, I lead the research and development team for products that support gut health. Our ProBio 5 contains five probiotics and additional enzymes to balance intestinal yeast. Taking probiotics daily will assist in a healthy balance if you happen to overindulge, or simply need the extra help.*
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!
The body craves water, especially in the arid winters of Arizona. Proper hydration moves things along and will prevent constipation. Harvard suggests at least 72 ounces a day to maintain regularity.
It can be difficult in the bustle of the holidays to remember to drink. If that sounds like you, be sure to carry a portable water container. If you’re counting your cup of coffee in this equation, think again. Studies show that caffeine can have dehydrating effects, as well as alcohol.
Be sure to drink water between alcoholic or sugary beverages at holiday functions to counteract dehydration and protect your gut.
Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Probiotics will assist your immune system and your diet can help prevent you from getting sick. Foods and supplements rich in vitamin c and zinc will buffer your immune system and fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants are especially important.
Don’t forget your stress levels can hurt your ability to fight illness. Be sure to relax, rest and exercise.
Overall, your gut is happy when you’re healthy so be sure to approach the holiday season with balance, joy and shared time with your loved ones.
Plexus Worldwide is a global health and wellness company transforming lives since 2008. Based in Scottsdale, Plexus offers supplements and products that focus on gut health and are supported by our Brand Ambassadors. For more information, please visit www.plexusworldwide.com/.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Read more Health & Wellness articles from Green Living.
Photo by Nicole Michalou on Pexels.