Christmas is often a time of overeating and indulgence, but this can take its toll on your tummy. Microbiome expert Maria Kardakova from Atlas Biomed has got some top tips to help keep your gut happy over the party season.
According to The British Dietary Association some people may consume around 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone, a whopping three times the recommended daily amount!
And apart from the potential for weight gain that this kind of over-consumption presents, it can also play havoc with your digestive system. There are some simple steps you can follow though to help you beat the festive bloat!
Your diet plays a crucial part to keeping your gut flora happy and whilst it’s easy to over indulge on rich food over Christmas it’s also easy to keep up your intake of high fibre foods which are very important when it comes to gut health. Make sure you stick with your five-a-day and Christmas is a great time for a variety of colours and textures. Onions, carrots, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, peas, asparagus, green beans and potatoes are all great sources of fibre that are available in abundance over the festive season and contribute to your festive bacteria’s feeding!
Brussels sprouts have a had a bad rap in the past but fortunately, thanks to a handful of visionary chefs and the internet, the world has once again fallen in love with these edible buds. They also serve up plenty of prebiotics to the microbiome and preserve their dietary fibre content during cooking!
It wouldn’t be Christmas without carrots. Not only are they a great source of beta-carotene (a plant pigment the body can turn into vitamin A), they contain several prebiotics which contributes to the good bacteria growth.
Potatoes are essentially a powerhouse of starches that contain prebiotic functions when prepared correctly. Specifically, they are a source of resistant prebiotic starch which withstands digestion in the same way fibre does.
Fermented drinks and food like kefir are great to have in the fridge at Christmas, especially if you already feel a bit overloaded. These products usually contain probiotics, which may help you to enrich your biota. Try making kefir tzatziki sauce, made of natural live cultures yogurt and fibre-rich cucumber. Combine grated cucumber with yogurt, garlic, parsley, mint and a bit of lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving. It will definitely keep your gut microbes happy.
Raise a glass
In terms of gut health, chronic alcohol consumption can cause serious health problems and lead to dysbiosis. Common Christmas alcoholic drinks like cream liqueurs and Buck’s Fizz usually contain a lot of sugar which can feed the bad bacteria. However, there are some polyphenols found in a red wine which may contribute to the stimulation of good bacteria growth and can inhibit pathogen bacteria (like Clostridium, E .coli etc). We don’t know how much alcohol we need to get these benefits but it does mean that one or two glasses of red wine may bring some joy to your gut!
Over the festive season, put much more effort in to drinking plain, still water – trying adding lemon, apple slices or halved cherries if you want to add a bit of flavour.
Rather than sitting in front of the telly, try something a bit different. Skating is a great festive option that keeps you away from the TV, or simply go for a walk with friends or family. There is a lot of research proving that exercise may contribute to better digestion and our gut bacteria’s happiness.