How to stay "gut healthy" over the holidays

How would you like to stay "gut healthy" during the festive party season?

No doubt you’ve heard that the gut plays a key role in the healthy functioning of your body.

Your 'gut microbiome' is made up of trillions of microorganisms, mainly bacteria, which are involved in functions critical to your health and wellbeing.

Unfortunately the silly season comes with lots of opportunities to compromise the health and functioning of your gut, including increased consumption of alcohol, refined sugar and processed foods – all of which can throw out the balance of good bacteria.

Could you imagine Christmas without its glorious spread of festive foods?

Making gut healthier choices doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the taste sensation, just means you have to get a bit creative!

Here are our top ways to stay gut healthy over the festive season.

1. Add more good gut bacteria

Probiotics are the ‘good’ bacteria that, when taken in the right amounts, can improve the balance of the gut microbiome. Probiotics are found in everyday foods like yoghurt, drinks like kombucha and kefir, and other fermented foods, like kimchi, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut and sourdough bread.

To ensure you’re getting the right probiotic strains for the right job, it may be worth choosing a strain specific probiotic supplement.

2. Resistant starch and prebiotics

Focus on foods that feed good bacteria with resistant starch and prebiotics.

Resistant starch is a sugar that resists digestion and travels down into your large intestine where it becomes food for your good bacteria.

Think asparagus, artichokes, beans and lentils, rice, healthy fats and vegetable fibres. Popping some banana onto one of those gorgeous Christmas Pav’s are also another way you can get a little extra resistant starch into you.

3. Substitute the good for bad

You are in charge of what you put onto your plate - so give unhealthy, fatty or fried foods (that you’re bad bacteria thrive on) the flick and instead balance your plate with gut healthier options.

  • Cut the simple carbs and sugary treats that feed unhealthy bacteria, mould and yeasts like Candida, and instead opt for healthier alternatives, like dates, chick peas, nuts, fruits (like banana and nectarines) and berries
  • Use creamy yoghurt as a substitute for cream
  • Switch processed white bread for a tasty sourdough
  • And sprinkle some legumes over your salad for added taste, texture and fibre.

4. Stay hydrated (especially if you’re drinking alcohol)

Staying hydrated is important for a healthy digestive system. Hydration is also important if you choose to drink alcohol this Christmas. Because alcohol is a diuretic, you lose a lot of water so it’s crucial to maintain your hydration levels.

Make sure that for every alcoholic drink you enjoy, make your next choice a glass of water. Get creative with your water and jazz up a large jug of sparkling mineral water with mixed berries and citrus fruit slices, or add cucumber and fresh mint.

What should I do if I over indulge?

Life’s too short not to indulge every once in a while.

Perhaps you’ve eaten a little too much or had one too many drinks for your body’s liking this festive season.

At this time of year it is not uncommon to consume more than your usual amount of food. Taking one capsule daily of Inner Health Digestive Defence helps maintain normal healthy digestive function. To help stay healthy this holiday season - opt for wise gut healthy food choices and give your digestive system some support.

Blissfully "Gut Healthy" Pavlova Recipe

Hands up who has ever eaten a gut healthy Pavlova? Well now you can indulge in this guilt-free dessert this summer holiday season.

Gut Healthy Pavlova with Whipped Yoghurt and Fruit

With supporting text below as a natural lead-in to additional content.

Ingredients

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 300 g coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp raw ground cacao
  • 500 ml organic natural yoghurt or coconut yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 large, ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 punnet fresh raspberries
  • 1 large kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced

Topping

  • 30 g dark chocolate, grated
  • 6-8 fresh mint leaves

Methods

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C
  2. Line two flat oven trays with baking paper and lightly draw a 23-25 cm circle on each piece of paper by tracing around a dinner plate with a pencil.
  3. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  4. Add coconut sugar one tablespoon at a time, while beating, until glossy and stiff. Be careful not to overbeat though or the mixture may start to separate.
  5. Sift in the cacao powder and gently stir through until combined.
  6. Mound half the meringue onto each circle, carefully smoothing the sides and top.
  7. Place the trays in the oven, then immediately reduce the temperature to 140˚C. Cook for 1 hour. Do not open the oven door during the cooking period.
  8. You will know when the Pavlova is ready when it is crisp around the edges but still a little soft in the centre. Turn off the oven, open the door slightly, and let the Pavlova completely cool inside
  9. Mix the yoghurt and honey together.
  10. To serve, place one meringue disk onto a serving plate, spread it with half the yoghurt and a mixture of the fresh fruit. Carefully place the other Pavlova on top, pile on the rest of the yoghurt, scatter with the remaining fruit, and decorate with grated chocolate and mint leaves.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, consult your health professional.