Yes, the silly season is upon us. With all the good cheer comes late nights and stress coupled with a decent dose of overindulgence in food and alcohol.
The parties and celebrations (Covid permitting) are enjoyable, but this time of the year can throw your gut into disarray.
As we start preparing ourselves for some holiday time – celebrating with family and friends – our intestinal microbes are on high alert. Getting ready for the onslaught of constant snacking on unhealthy nibbles, copious amounts of alcohol and panic when you realise you’ve left your Christmas shopping to the very last minute.
Christmas and the New Year can be a challenging time for your gut and extend the limits of your body’s ecosystem to breaking point. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Follow our top tips for a gut-friendly holiday without being boring or singled out as the party pooper.
Let’s face it, Christmas isn’t a celebration without at least one big feast with family or friends. But overindulging in all the fatty, sweet and refined carbohydrate loaded food will destroy any good work you have done over the year to nurture or restore your gut health.
Achieving a nice balance with your food intake is vital for your gut health.
Your gut is the epicentre for trillions of mutually beneficial bacteria. Your body gives these bacteria a nice place to live and food to eat. As payback, they work relentlessly for you. To help them do their job correctly, you need to make sure you have plenty of dietary fibre. This fibre travels through the gastrointestinal tract to the colon, where your gut bacteria break down the complex carbs through the process of fermentation. This process produces essential vitamins and short-chain fatty acids for your body to function. These fatty acids help sustain a perfectly operating system to maintain the integrity of the gut lining, regulate motility so you can eliminate waste and aid the absorption of electrolytes.
The good news is keeping your bacterial population well-nourished is easier than you think.
The secret to protecting your gut is upping your fibre intake. Particularly your indigestible fibre intake like cellulose, also known as a prebiotic. Suppose you can improve your intake of prebiotics. In that case, your gut microbes get adequately nourished so they can keep doing their job.
A form of food rich in prebiotics is Gut Performance®. It’s packed with exactly what your gut needs to stay healthy and happy when overloaded with rich, nutrient-poor foods. Remember, Gut Performance® is not a supplement, but a Food with Purpose™. It’s a 100% natural plant-based food product, so your body will get the maximum benefit from the unique blend of gut superfoods.
There is no reason to abstain from the sweet goodies that tempt us during the Christmas period. But remember – incorporate some good sources of digestible and indigestible fibre in your diet.
Watch Your Alcohol Intake
A hangover isn’t much fun…EVER. But when you have to perform those last-minute jobs that spike your stress levels, and your body isn’t playing ball, it can be a nightmare.
We all know that alcohol dehydrates us. It does this by interrupting the mechanism regulating your body’s water levels. This is why when you drink, you tend to urinate more frequently.
But your cells and organs need water to function properly. So your body goes into overdrive and starts holding onto every last drop of water it can and stashes it away in the cells. You lose water from urinating, but your circulating volume is also depleted because your cells are hanging onto whatever they can. This is what is referred to as retaining water. In this case, you are technically dehydrated, but it also gives you that bloated and puffy appearance the morning after a big one…due to the accumulation in the cells.
Thankfully, these symptoms, such as looking like a pufferfish, doesn’t last long. But the alcohol does aggravate your digestive system. This irritation triggers a hold up in the proper breakdown of food, causing increased gas production and often a post booze stomach ache.
But it’s not all bad. Enjoying the occasional glass of red wine can benefit your gut ecosystem. This is because it contains polyphenols, which have been known to increase the quantity of valuable microbes in your intestinal system.
The lesson here – you should drink alcohol in moderation. Have some nights off the booze and make sure you drink a glass of water in between every alcoholic drink.
You can always give your gut some love before a big night out by dosing it up with the polyphenols and indigestible fibre packed into every scoop of Gut Performance®. It can help facilitate the quick and safe passage of the toxic waste produced by overindulgence in alcohol and potentially decreasing the chances of it destroying the gut lining.
Sleep isn’t an optional extra
All-night partying and the stress of late-night shopping runs to get those last-minute pressies is one of the hallmarks of the holiday season. But there is a big warning – this lack of sleep you experience can adversely affect your gut microbiome.
Your gut and brain have a two-way communication line referred to as the gut-brain axis. This gut-brain axis influences the way you think and feel. That’s why the state of your gut health can affect your mood and sleep.
If your natural sleep rhythm is disturbed, it can modify the balance of your intestinal ecosystem. To make it worse, alcohol and poor food choices are associated with insufficient sleep. This exacerbates the impacts on your gut.
The reverse is also true; if you get a good night’s sleep, you are more likely to cultivate a varied gut microbiome. And greater diversity of your intestinal microbiota promotes optimal health.
To prevent the side effects of insufficient sleep on your gut, you must attempt to keep your sleep pattern as routine as possible. Try to implement healthy sleep hygiene practices such as cutting out digital light sources before bedtime, eating at least 2 hours before you sleep and making sure your room is as dark as possible.
Prebiotics have also been shown to improve deep restorative sleep. If you would like to find out more about how this happens, read this article. Taking a daily dose of Gut Performance®, which is packed with prebiotics, will improve your sleep quality.
Be aware of your Stress
The act of stress on your body causes changes in your microbiome in several different ways. Heightened levels of stress can diminish the population of health-promoting bacteria that thrives in your gut. This reduction promotes chronic inflammation, which activates the vagus nerve (the communication line between the gut-brain axis) and leads to stress symptoms. Harmful bacteria can also create peptides known to send stress signals to your brain.
But, if your gut microbiome is full of good bacteria, these microbes can build your strength to protect you against stressful situations.
During challenging times, the concentration of your stress hormone, cortisol, spikes. This causes symptoms of stress. But if you have a healthy gut with lots of Lactobacillus, your cortisol levels are lowered.
Serotonin, another hormone in the body, modulates your mood, anxiety and even your happiness levels. It is well established that a reduction of serotonin in the body is associated with depression. Serotonin production is instigated when your gut bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids by fermenting dietary fibre. These short-chain fatty acids interact with the cells in your gut and make the hormone serotonin.
The biggest takeaway here is that you can influence your gut health by instigating healthy lifestyle factors like diet. Doing this promotes the richness of beneficial bacteria, which ends up protecting you from stress.
We can easily combat this stress with a few simple changes. Remember to take time out and practice either meditation or mindfulness consistently. It doesn’t have to be sitting in the lotus position for 30 minutes a day with incense burning. Taking 5 minutes a day to refresh and reboot can be just as beneficial.
You can also take a daily dose of Gut Performance® to help improve your gut microbiota’s diversity. This allows all those good microbes to produce the hormones needed to protect you from the holiday season’s added stress.
Let us know via our Gut Performance® Instagram page how Gut Performance® helps you through this party season and into 2021.
Wishing you all a very happy and safe Festive Season!