The holidays are just about here, and as excited as we are to dive into all of the delicious goodness likely to be on our tables this year, there is one aspect that some of us don’t so much look forward to: digestive troubles from a holiday binge.
From meats and cheeses to bread, fruits and baked veggie dishes (don’t forget dessert), sharing the annual meal of gratitude with the ones you love often means that overindulging - and the feelings that follow - are inevitable.
The good news is that probiotics can help. In fact, there are several steps you can take toward proper gut health that can have you saying goodbye to seasonal struggles with your digestive system when your inner foodie comes out to play for the holidays.
Go with Your Gut
The key to feeling great during the gluttony of the holidays is to maintain a healthy gut environment on a consistent basis. Gut health is not only important for experiencing optimal digestion and regularity, but it also affects all other supportive systems, like the nervous and immune systems.
You may even be able to improve your mood and boost overall energy in the days and weeks leading up to the holidays by making simple, healthy choices in favor of your GI tract - like eating probiotic-rich foods or taking a probiotic supplement.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that colonize within your gut, and their presence can help to balance out the microbes that live there - keeping you feeling your best when it comes to foods, drinks, stress, and other holiday elements that can weigh heavily on your digestive system. A probiotic supplement that can effectively deliver good bacteria to your GI tract can help support regularity and even reduce bloating and gas - two of the most common complaints after a jubilant meal.
A high-quality probiotic like Hyperbiotics PRO-15 can pack billions of beneficial, living microbes into a single serving and might just help you enjoy your holiday feast without falling asleep at the dinner table or feeling backed up and uncomfortable in the days that follow. Simply put, a healthy gut environment can help you enjoy the time spent with your loved ones.
Focus on the Right Foods
It’s all about the details (or should I say micronutrients) when it comes to the foods that we eat around the holidays. So, to really curb the digestive distress, focus on foods that provide nourishment to your body vs foods that leave you feeling overly-stuffed and depleted.
For example, did you know that the right carbohydrates like whole grains and healthy complex carbohydrates can help keep glucose levels steady? As well, fibrous compounds from fruits and vegetables also support energy levels throughout the day and provide food and energy for the probiotic colonies in your gut - helping them to colonize and keeping your system supported.
Lean meats are great energy foods because they contain protein, vitamin B12, and essential amino acids like Tyrosine, an important amino acid for regulating hormones released in the gut environment which affects how we feel almost instantly.
Fatty acids like Omega-3 can be found in nuts, leafy greens, and fish and are important for many functions, including mood regulation. Fatty acids also help maintain a healthy gut lining, so they’re relatively gentle on the digestive tract. 1
Secure a Good Night’s Sleep
The night after a celebratory dinner can be a tricky one to get through, especially if you’ve really indulged in all that the seasonal fare has to offer. Interestingly enough, a December 2014 article called “The Gut Microbiome and the Brain” published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medicinal Food describes a direct connection between your gut bacteria and your sleep and circadian rhythms.2 Balancing the bacteria in the gut through probiotic supplementation and conscious food choices can help you bust through a bout of post-feast insomnia.
A gigantic meal of any sort can leave you feeling exhausted, and while a cup of coffee might sound like the perfect digestif, caffeine can disrupt your REM sleep. When you’re not getting enough REM sleep, mental clarity often suffers as a result. Secure a good night’s sleep by choosing tea or hot water with lemon after your meal and increasing your intake of probiotic and prebiotic foods and supplements as the holidays approach.
Get Ahead of Bloat and Digestive Upset
Overeating is the most common cause of bloating, and gas can easily get trapped in your stomach from fatty foods, carbonated beverages, sweeteners, and dairy. Unfortunately, our culture is one adorned with buffets and double cheeseburgers, making overeating not just a holiday tradition, but a common occurrence. By eating slowly, listening to your body, and stopping once you are satisfied (not stuffed), you can start to rise above the temptation to overeat and feel great this season.
As well, when we’re not experiencing “business as usual”, it can be very hard to give thanks or focus on anything else for that matter. Digestive issues are incredibly distracting and no one should be burdened with them when it comes to enjoying a little time off with your family.
One of the best ways to combat digestive distress is to stay hydrated. It seems simple, but water helps keep digestive flow in motion, and you can achieve a healthier system simply by allowing more water to move through your digestive tract and break up anything that might be slowing you down. Try drinking an extra large glass of warm water with fresh squeezed lemon and a dash of pink Himalayan salt first thing in the morning to jumpstart your hydration (and bathroom) routine.
Attitude is Everything
Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up about a hearty holiday meal. Because the body metabolizes guilt in a multitude of ways, one of the best things you can do is to prepare for your indulgences ahead of time.
Prior to your foodie festivities, plan for a healthy holiday and aim to increase your workouts or stay physically active, eat prebiotic and probiotic foods that can more positively impact digestion, and stick to limited portions so that you can ensure that the bounty you consume in the future is properly processed by the GI tract, and moves through your body quickly and without issue so that you can cherish another year of happy memories with your family. Because let’s face it, there’s not much better than feeling your best while being with the people you love.
We’d love to hear from you! What are some of the ways you cope after a holiday meal?
1. Bentley-Hewitt, K. L., Guzman, C. E., Ansell, J., Mandimika, T., Narbad, A., & Lund, E. K. (2015). How fish oils could support our friendly bacteria. Lipid Technology, 27(8), 179-182.
2. Galland, L. (2014). The Gut Microbiome and the Brain. Journal of Medicinal Food, 17(12), 1261-1272.
Julie Hays is the Communications Director here at Hyperbiotics. Health writer and mama of two little girls, Julie's on a mission to empower others to live lives free of the microbial depletion many of us face today. For more ideas on how you can maximize wellness and benefit from the power of probiotics, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.
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