To celebrate Good Gut Week 5th–11th December, innovative supplement brand Cytoplan has collaborated with expert registered associate nutritionist Eli Brecher to create Six Tips for a Gut Healthy Christmas.
Nutritionist Eli Brecher in collaboration with Cytoplan, says: “During the festive season, we tend to consume more high-sugar and high-fat comfort foods, as well as increasing 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 these factors can negatively impact our gut microbiome (the trillions of helpful bacteria and other organisms that live inside our guts), causing digestive issues and influencing our mood, skin and weight.”
Start the day right with a healthy breakfast
Use the first meal of the day to get a good dose of nutrients, balance your blood sugar levels and keep yourself 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.
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, which are at their prime right now.
Incorporate fermented foods
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 extra care at this time of year. To find the right probiotic to suit you, depending on your age, gender, and lifestyle, it might be helpful to explore Cytoplan’s Good Gut Guide.
Poor digestion has been associated with lower energy levels and increased psychological stress and may contribute to weight gain. Staying active has 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 are great ways to get the blood flowing and keep food healthily moving through your gut.
Whether battling a hangover or overdone on the mince pies, adequate hydration levels are essential to support our body’s natural detoxification organs (mainly the liver, kidneys and intestines). Sip on herbal teas throughout the day and infuse your water bottle with a few slices of lemon and cucumber to encourage you to keep drinking.
The gut-brain axis is the two-way communication system between your gut and brain via the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve connecting the brain to the body. And serotonin, a key hormone responsible for helping us to feel good, is manufactured in the gut before being transported to the brain. Digestive disturbances reduce serotonin production, which is why stress can often manifest as digestive symptoms, and digestive issues may be linked with increased levels of anxiety and depression.
The lead-up to Christmas can be particularly stressful and busy 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-and-digest’ mode. We can do this by integrating a regular meditation or breathwork practice into our morning routine – or simply taking a few slow, deep breaths before each meal.