As the year draws to an end, we begin to feel the excitement in the air. It is festive time yet again – a time for hustle bustle, late nights, laughter, fun and indulgence. Holiday season also means “FOOD” and for most of us the evening ends with heavy oily snacks and sweets. It is all fun until you experience the unpleasant but familiar tummy aches, bloating, diarrhoea, indigestion and sometimes constipation. This results in poor gut health which affects immunity, mood and energy levels. Who would want to ruin the festive season when we wait all year long to spend this magical time with family and friends? So how do you counter the merry indulgences.
Below are some tips that will help keep your gut healthy over the festive period.
1. Drink Water, Stay Hydrated
We all know that we should be drinking at least eight glasses of water every day. However, the natural choice during the festive season is a juice or a cold drink. Such drinks add empty calories to the diet, slows digestion and makes one feel heavy and bloated. Drinking water and keeping hydrated keeps your digestive system well lubricated and prevents constipation. In case it is tough to drink plain water, squeeze a lemon, add some berries or a piece of cucumber in the water for that extra flavour.
2. Make Time for Exercise
Although heavy snacking and late nights can make you lethargic and sluggish, the festive season should not be an excuse to avoid your daily exercise.
You must make an effort to do some form of physical activity during the day. It could be walking, dancing, yoga or hitting the gym which will keep your gut moving and improve digestion. Not only that, regular exercise will also help burn the extra calories that you have gained because of over eating and keep you feeling active, agile and happy.
3. The Good Gut Probiotic Bacteria
Give probiotic foods a try this festive season. Our gut health has been shown to benefit from them in several ways. Probiotics encourage the growth of good bacteria and decrease the growth of bad bacteria in the intestine. They keep your digestion regular so you will be more comfortable to enjoy the shopping trips and parties. Not only that, probiotics are vital for breaking down the delicious heavy foods that we eat during the festive season and prevent acid reflux and indigestion.
4. Boost your immunity
Most of the festivals are celebrated during the winter months and a common cold or flu is inevitable. Keeping the gut healthy will also boost immunity since about 70% of the immune cells of the body are found there. Increasing the good bacteria in the intestine will help activate the immune cells for better immunity and reduced risk of infections.
5. Smaller Portion Size
One way to avoid over eating during the festive season is by being watchful about the portion size. Small portion sizes will prevent overloading your digestive system with too much food which slows digestion. Eating from a smaller plate helps.
6. Eat Slowly
Experts have a lot to say about chewing. The good old saying that chew your food 32 times before swallowing is so that it becomes easier to digest. Simply slowing down meals and chewing food well will help you get closer to a healthier gut.
7. Manage stress
Managing stress can be hard during the festive season with all the shopping, travel and late nights. However, stress has a negative effect on the digestive system. The stress hormone Cortisol can cause bloating and stomach pain. Stress can also create conditions for the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestine and inhibit the good bacteria. Excessive stress can affect the movement of food through the gut and result in constipation or diarrhoea. A walk in the park, reading a book or listening to your favourite music can be relaxing and help the digestive system to function smoothly.
8. Get some good sleep
Come festivals and one thing that you cannot get enough of is sleep. You have to struggle to get the much needed eight hours of good quality sleep. Lack of sleep results in poor gut health which is linked directly to the brain. When the sleepy gut fails to work properly we get cranky, depressed and experience bloating, gas and flatulence. Trying to catch a nap in the afternoon or wake up late on holidays to make up for some of the lost sleep during the festive season.
9. Avoid Unnecessary Antibiotics
Antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria in the intestine which affects both digestion and immunity. Take an antibiotic only if it is absolutely necessary.
Festivals are to be celebrated and be merry – keeping these simple tips in mind will keep your Gut healthy this festive season and a Happy Gut is a Happy You.