How to look after your gut health this Christmas

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Carla Oates The Beauty Chef Founder

Keen to keep your microbiome in tip-top shape despite the festive feasting and cocktail toasting? We’ve got you covered with these good-for-your-gut tips.

At The Beauty Chef, our philosophy is 'healthy not perfect'—which acts as a timely reminder to be kind to yourself this holiday season. Celebrating with friends and family over plates of food should be enjoyed wholeheartedly!

But if you're keen to avoid the stuffed and sluggish feeling that so often follows, we've put together three easy tips to help keep your gut happy.

Don’t eat when you’re stressed

Your gut and brain are intimately connected, so it’s no wonder that chronic stress can negatively impact the balance and diversity of your microbes. It’s well documented that stress affects the release of digestive juices, diverting blood away from the digestive tract and into the muscles (so that you can either flee or fight high-pressure situations). Consequently, digestion takes longer and is less effective. The key to maintaining a healthy gut despite the craziness of the Christmas period is keeping calm, especially around meal times. Take 10 deep breaths before you sit down to eat, avoid arguments at the dinner table and enjoy your food slowly and mindfully.

Don’t be afraid to fast

Does the thought of going more than a few hours without a snack send you into a panic? It shouldn’t—your body has naturally evolved to experience periods of food scarcity. A plethora of recent studies prove the positive impact of fasting on the microbiome, as well as inflammation markers and longevity. Scientists are yet to agree on the optimal fasting period and how often we should do it, but even an overnight fast can be beneficial. When you don’t eat for at least eight hours, fibre stays in your body long enough to give bacteria like Bifidobacterium the time to turn it into anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate. In other words, it does you a whole lot of good!

Eat more plants

We recommend sticking to this guideline throughout the year, however, it’s especially important when you’re likely to be feasting on more indulgent foods. In Australia, it’s not uncommon for the Christmas menu to feature at least three types of meat, so if you’re an omnivore, be sure to opt for small servings of each, while filling half of your plate with veggies. Research from institutions like the Food & Mood Centre shows that a diet high in plant-based foods is far better for microbial health. Why not go one step further and enjoy a plant-packed snack like this Cleanse & Reset Smoothie before heading out, so you're not hitting the buffet on an empty stomach?