Words: Eli Brecher
During the festive season, we tend to consume more high-sugar and high-fat comfort foods, and increase our alcohol consumption. In addition, we may be overdoing it with late nights, social events and Christmas parties, leading to a lack of sleep. All of these factors can negatively impact our gut microbiome (the trillions of helpful bacteria and other organisms that live inside our guts), causing digestive issues, as well as influencing our mood, skin and weight. Here are 6 tips to help you have a Gut-Healthy Christmas:
Start the day right with a healthy breakfast
Use the first meal of the day to get in a good dose of nutrients, balance your blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full (so you don’t graze on leftover Christmas pudding!) Some breakfast ideas include live yoghurt with oats and stewed apples or plums, porridge with berries and almond butter, a blueberry and avocado protein smoothie or baked eggs with spinach and tomato
Incorporate fermented foo
Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso, tempeh and live yoghurt all contain good bacteria, which support and nourish your gut microbiome and may help improve digestion, support immunity and aid weight management. These good bacteria can also be found in probiotic supplements, which may be worth exploring if your gut needs some extra care at this time of year.
Whether you’re battling a hangover or you’ve overdone it on the mince pies, adequate hydration levels are essential to support our body’s natural detoxification organs (mainly the liver, (dneys and intestines). Sip on herbal teas throughout the day and infuse your water bottle with a few slices of lemon and cucumberto encourage you to keep
Diversity is key
Consume a colourful and diverse range of plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, whole grains,beans and legumes. All of these contribute to a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. Take
advantage of delicious seasonal gems such as beetroot, carrots, pumpkin, wild mushrooms and pears, all of which are at their prime right now
Poor digestion has been associated with lower energy levels, higher psychological stress and may be a contributing factor to weight gain. Staying active has so many perks, from keeping your digestive system regular to reducing stress levels which often creep up at this time of year. A brisk morning walk and some yoga or gentle stretching is a great way to get the blood flowing and keep food moving through your gut in a healthy way
The gut-brain axis is the twoway communication system between your gut and your brain, via the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve that connects the brain to the body. And serotonin, a key hormone that is responsible for helping us to “feel good”, is manufactured in the gut before being transported the same wayto the brain too. Digestive disturbances reduce the production of serotonin which is why stress can often manifest as digestive symptoms, and digestive issues may be linked with increased levels of anxiety and depression. The leadup to Christmas can be a particularly stressful and busy period for many of us, so it can be helpful to support your nervous system with relaxation techniques, to move your body out of “fight-or-flight” mode and into “rest-anddigest” mode. We can do this by integrating a regular meditation or breath work practice into our morning routine – or simply takinga few slow, deep breathsbefore each meal.
Eli Brecher is a registered associate nutritionist.Learn more about her at www. elibrecher.co.uk@elibrechernutrition About Cytoplan www.cytoplan.co.uk
Cytoplan is an independent British company that has produced food-based supplementation for over 30 years, Cytoplan has maintained the belief that nature holds
the key to health, creating products that work in harmony with the body to optimise health and are dedicated to improving the health of the nation, both ethically and sustainably.