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How to support gut health at Christmas

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Health editor Tracey Raye offers her top tips for supporting your gut health over the Christmas period.

Did you know that about 70% of your immune system is in your gut? As such, whether you’re looking for ways to maintain your digestive health or simply support your immune system throughout the winter, these tips are for you.

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You don’t have to shy away from indulgence completely in order to feel good over the festive period. However, by putting some of these practices in place early on, you can provide some extra support for your gut health and hopefully avoid too much digestive discomfort.

Discover even more top tips for digestive health. Plus, check out our delicious gut-friendly recipes, including a range of plant-based options.

5 tips to support your gut health 

1. Hara hachi bu

Someone helping themselves to a big pile of green salad

This is one of my favourite health principles! It’s a Japanese saying that literally translates to ‘eat until you are 80% full’. Overeating may put added stress on your digestive system which could lead to symptoms such as bloating, so try to focus on enjoying the moment and the food, by eating only when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied. This allows your digestive system to work efficiently, so you’re less likely to feel uncomfortable.

Check out our Christmas portion planner to help you to manage your servings.

2. Eat your greens 

A side of broccoli with garlic and breadcrumbs

Green vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli are loaded with fibre – a food of choice for supporting a healthy gut. Certain veggies, like cabbage can offer additional probiotic benefits when fermented and turned into sauerkraut - a great condiment for a variety of meals.

Discover our delicious vegan broccoli recipes collection.

3. Go easy on the alcohol

Someone refusing an alcoholic drink with the palm of their hand

Consuming too much alcohol can impact the composition and diversity of the bacteria in your gut - so, remember to pace yourself! Interestingly, the type of alcohol you consume may affect gut health differently. Studies suggest that moderate consumption of red wine had a beneficial effect on gut bacteria (likely due to polyphenol content), whereas other alcohols such as gin decreased levels of beneficial bacteria.

Why not try some low or alcohol-free drink options?

4. Don’t forget to move

Shot of a young woman wearing headphones and using a laptop while exercising at home

Engaging in physical activity, whether that be walking, cycling, doing a home workout or even cleaning the house, has several health benefits ranging from weight loss to stress relief. Studies have associated higher levels of fitness with increased microbial diversity in the gut, with fit individuals showing a greater abundance of butyrate, a gut healthy short-chain fatty acid.

Get inspired by our easy home workout ideas.

 5. Take time to relax 

A woman relaxes in a candle-lined bath tub with a glass of red wine.

Excessive levels of stress have been shown to reduce the diversity of gut flora, as well as impact beneficial bacterial species such as Lactobacilli. Make a habit of taking some time for you each day and utilise relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness.

Try some of our home mindfulness techniques.

Want to know more about gut health?

Top 10 probiotic foods to support your gut health
Does gut health affect weight?
How does diet affect gut health?
How to avoid indigestion
What to eat for… better digestion

How do you support your gut health? Comment below and let us know…


This article was published on 18 November 2020.

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All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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