Food plays a significant role in celebrating holidays and special occasions or socializing with friends and family. As a result, it’s important to consider the types of foods you’re putting in your body to maintain or improve gut health.
What is gut health? Various necessary bacteria in your body help your system function properly. Your gut has about 100 trillion microorganisms, some good and some bad, but all play a vital part in your digestive system breaking down foods you ingest. When the good and bad bacteria become imbalanced, you may experience health problems.
Poor gut health can negatively impact your overall health by causing the following:
- Weight gain/loss
- Skin irritation
- Autoimmune disorders
- Mood changes
Many of these symptoms can also result from food allergies, which 32 million Americans live with daily. The holidays, especially, make prioritizing your gut health challenging. Still, our team at ARCpoint Labs of St Augustine has a few tips to help you make it through the holiday season and the new year with a healthy digestive system.
8 Ways to Improve Gut Health for a Healthy Holiday
1. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a way of being fully conscious and aware of what you consume. We don’t mean scrutinizing every micro and macronutrient. This philosophy has more to do with how you consume foods than what you consume.
When practicing mindful eating, here are a few tips:
- Chew your food slowly
- Put your utensils down between bites
- Turn off any electronic distractions
- Eat at the dinner table
The action of eating can be just as important as what you’re eating. Over time, eating mindfully can help with weight loss, reduce overeating, improve digestion, and more.
2. Fill Your Plate with Fiber
Regular bowel movements are a good indication of proper gut function. Foods rich in fiber can aid in system regularity and reduce gastrointestinal issues and constipation.
Some fiber-rich foods include the following:
- Fruits – Raspberries, pears, apples (with the skin), oranges, bananas, and strawberries are all high in fiber. And you only need one cup of any of these fruits daily to get your daily fiber intake.
- Vegetables – One cup of eggplant, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, or collard greens (uncooked) can help reset your gut health.
- Whole grains – Aside from whole wheat bread, whole grains can also include steel-cut oats, brown rice, whole cornmeal, and rolled oats.
- Legumes – The legumes you should consume for a balanced gut include black beans, lentils, split peas, almonds, chia seeds, or pistachios.
Introducing these foods into your diet may help broaden your palate and improve your bodily functions overall.
3. Use a Probiotic
With the stress of the holidays, you may be compelled to nibble on sugary snacks and calorie-dense foods, but this combination can be volatile for your gut. Don’t underestimate the power of a good probiotic to help restore good gut bacteria. We suggest stocking up on unsweetened yogurt with a bit of honey for flavor. Most unsweetened yogurts contain live cultures that can help balance microbes and get your gut health back on track going into the new year and beyond.
4. Limit Alcoholic Beverages
Consuming small amounts of alcohol occasionally isn’t typically enough to affect your gut health significantly. However, overindulging in alcoholic beverages regularly can damage the trillions of microbes that help your gut process foods. Unhealthy bacteria can easily overtake the good bacteria, disrupting your digestive system. Limit refined sugars and alcohol to help improve your gut health.
5. Sleep, Sleep, & More Sleep
Lack of sleep is one thing, but sleep deprivation is another. Getting enough sleep, not just during the holiday season, is vital to various physiological functions. When you don’t get enough sleep, you can inadvertently affect the hormones that control hunger, causing them to malfunction. You’ll likely turn to carbohydrate-rich and high-caloric foods that may wreak havoc on your digestive system.
Additionally, lack of sleep can increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause “leaky gut syndrome” or poor intestinal permeability. When this is affected, your body may accidentally allow toxins to pass through the intestines and into your bloodstream.
6. Keep the Water Flowing
Instead of a traditional alcoholic drink, we suggest using water to reduce potential allergic reactions and promote digestion for the holidays and the new year. How does water help? Water is a natural stool softener that helps prevent constipation, and it helps break down foods so your body can absorb the nutrients. A good rule of thumb is to drink eight ounces of water with every meal to help with proper digestion and increase that feeling of fullness without overeating.
7. Give Yourself Grace
Understanding that there’s a problem with your gut may take time. After all, this could be something new, and you just don’t know how your body will react until you try it. That said, you may have to try various things to get your gut health back on track or food allergies under control. This process can be extremely frustrating and lengthy, so give yourself grace. And know that our St. Augustine team is always here to assist you and provide answers to your health and testing questions.
8. Get Food Sensitivity Testing
You can take all the necessary steps to ensure you’re ingesting the right foods to ensure gut health; still, nothing may be working. We suggest food allergy and sensitivity testing to get to the root of your digestive system issues and discover if you have a food sensitivity, food allergies, food intolerance, or celiac disease.
Need Assistance with Gut Health? Get Specialty Health Testing with ARCpoint Labs of St Augustine!
For the holidays and new year, invest in a change and allow our team to perform specialty health testing that answers questions you didn’t know you had. We know getting back into the swing of things after Thanksgiving and Christmas can be difficult, but it’s important to make healthy changes that result in a stronger immune system.
At ARCpoint Labs of St Augustine, we have at-home kits that can be sent directly to you! So, you don’t have to get out in the cold and venture to our facility for specialty testing. We offer the convenience of at-home kits to ensure you get all the information you need to prioritize your gut health.For more information about our specialty health testing in St. Augustine, call (904) 217-0479.