6 Ways to Look After Your Gut After the Festive Season

January 07, 2024 5 min read

6 Ways to Look After Your Gut After the Festive Season

In this article, we’ll talk you through six ways you can help to support your gut health after the holiday season.

1. Enjoy the left-over alcohol…moderately

Your gut can become overwhelmed by alcohol, leading to inflammation[i]. But it also affects the overall composition of your microbiome[ii]. For example, some alcoholics with dysbiosis have a lower abundance of Bacteroidetesand a higher number of Proteobacteriawhich suggests high levels of bacteria-derived endotoxins, known to cause alcohol-related tissue injury.

That said, it doesn’t mean you have to pass on every beverage, you could just be clever about it. Red wine, in small amounts, is rich in polyphenols and has been linked with some exciting benefits.

A study by Le Roy et al. (2019) found that red wine consumption was associated with better gut microbiome diversity. Furthermore, red wine contains polyphenols such as anthocyanin and gallic acid that may improve cholesterol metabolism. While resveratrol may contribute to red wine's benefits on cardiovascular health[iii].

Tip:Alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water or even a fermented favourite, kombucha.

2. Don’t forget the fibre

The holiday season is full of tasty temptations, from sugary sweets to extravagant desserts, and a wild selection of meat and cheese, but there’s one thing you should avoid forgetting after the holiday season - Fibre.

Dietary changes, like the ones most of us experience at this time of year, can play havoc with our digestive system, inducing bloating, flatulence, and constipation. You can avoid this by ensuring you cram in the fibre.

Choose green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli or fruits like juicy clementines, winter berries, and crisp apples to keep your gut microbiota well-fed and support a diverse microbiome[iv].

The best gut-promoting after-holiday foods

Brussels sprouts

Beetroot

Carrots

Celeriac

Nuts

Winter greens

Wholegrain crackers

Swede

Cheese (gouda, cheddar edam, gruyere, cottage)

Sauerkraut

Cooked and cooled roast potatoes

Oily fish

Nuts and seeds

Ginger

 

3. Get moving

After a hectic few days of planning and hosting the family, exercise may not be top of your agenda. But being active can have numerous positive health benefits.

Clarke et al. (2014) evaluated the effect of exercise on the gut microbiota of elite rugby players. Their research showed that athletes had a more diverse microbiome, with a greater abundance of beneficial microbes from the Firmicutes phylum including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii[v].

Anyone who is an avid reader of our blog will know that F. prausnitzii  is an abundant member of our colonic ecosystem and an important butyrate producer. Butyrate is an example of a short-chain fatty acid or SCFA known to have important anti-inflammatory effects.

So, if you can try to get some movement into your day, perhaps a family walk after the big meal or a short jog, or even a good old knees up in the evening – it all counts.

4. Get some rest

Yes, it sounds like the complete opposite to the tip above, but as with everything in life, everything in moderation. And getting some, good, meaningful rest is no exception.

The festive period can be full of happy chaos, late-night shopping, all-night partying, and even last-minute wrapping, and it can all get a little tiring. But it can also affect your circadian rhythm, also known as your body clock.

Through the gut-brain axis, your gut microbiome can influence your circadian rhythm as well as other cognitive functions and several studies have found that not getting enough sleep can disturb the composition of your microbiome[vi].

It works the other way, too. Smith et al. (2019) demonstrated that the diversity of the gut microbiome can directly influence how much good sleep you get[vii]. So, a richly diverse gut can promote better rest.

5. Try ‘hara hachi bu’

Hara hachi bu is a popular Japanese health principle and translated means ‘eating until you’re 80% full’[viii]. So, by following the principle of hara hachi bu, you’ll stick to eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you feel 80% full. This will let your gastrointestinal system work efficiently and keep those nasty symptoms at bay, leaving you free to enjoy your day and recover faster from the holidays. 

6. Get some Prebiotic to support your gut health

Give the gift of great gut health this Christmas, either to your friends and family or as a little self-care present, with Layer Origin’s PureHMO® range. Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are an abundant gut nutrient. They act as prebiotics, a source of food for your gut bacteria, and support bacterial growth and activity, including the promotion of beneficial metabolites such as SCFAs, as well as exerting anti-pathogenic effects and strengthening your intestinal barrier[ix].

That’s not all our super antioxidant Organic Apple Peel Powder is the perfect way to pack in those phytonutrients you might be lacking this holiday season, like:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Ursolic acid

It’s also rich in quercetin, an important natural bioflavonoid known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, and anti-hypertensive effects[x]. The pharmacological importance of quercetin is immense, particularly through its protection of free radicals. It’s so good, that you’ll want to find a pot of Apple Peel Powder in your stocking!

Summary: Top tips for a healthy gut after the holiday season

The festive season, although fun, can be stressful for many of us, and we can take the eye off the ball when it comes to our health. The lack of activity, less than healthy foods, and late nights can take their toll on our gut. But there are plenty of things we can do to help keep our gut microbes happy and healthy after the holidays, including:

  1. Enjoy alcohol in moderation
  2. Pack in the fibre
  3. Get some exercise where you can
  4. Chill – it's important to get some well-earned rest
  5. Avoid overeating by practicing ‘hara hachi bu’
  6. Unwrap Layer Origin for good gut health

Written by: Leanne Edermaniger, M.Sc. Leanne is a professional science writer who specializes in human health and enjoys writing about all things related to the gut microbiome. 

Sources

[i] Bishehsari F, Magno E, Swanson G, Desai V, Voigt RM, Forsyth CB, Keshavarzian A. Alcohol and Gut-Derived Inflammation. Alcohol Res. 2017;38(2):163-171. PMID: 28988571; PMCID: PMC5513683.

[ii] Mutlu EA, Gillevet PM, Rangwala H, Sikaroodi M, Naqvi A, Engen PA, Kwasny M, Lau CK, Keshavarzian A. Colonic microbiome is altered in alcoholism. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2012 May 1;302(9):G966-78. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00380.2011. Epub 2012 Jan 12. PMID: 22241860; PMCID: PMC3362077.

[iii] Le Roy CI, Wells PM, Si J, Raes J, Bell JT, Spector TD. Red wine consumption associated with increased gut microbiota α-diversity in 3 independent cohorts. Gastroenterology. 2020;158(1). doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2019.08.024

[iv] Cronin P, Joyce SA, O'Toole PW, O'Connor EM. Dietary Fibre Modulates the Gut Microbiota. Nutrients. 2021 May 13;13(5):1655. doi: 10.3390/nu13051655. PMID: 34068353; PMCID: PMC8153313.

[v] Clarke SF, Murphy EF, O'Sullivan O, Lucey AJ, Humphreys M, Hogan A, Hayes P, O'Reilly M, Jeffery IB, Wood-Martin R, Kerins DM, Quigley E, Ross RP, O'Toole PW, Molloy MG, Falvey E, Shanahan F, Cotter PD. Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity. Gut. 2014 Dec;63(12):1913-20. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2013-306541. Epub 2014 Jun 9. PMID: 25021423.

[vi] King’s College London. Irregular sleep patterns associated with harmful gut bacteria [Internet]. King’s College London; 2023 [cited 2023 Dec 15]. Available from: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/irregular-sleep-patterns-harmful-gut-bacteria

[vii] Smith RP, Easson C, Lyle SM, Kapoor R, Donnelly CP, Davidson EJ, Parikh E, Lopez JV, Tartar JL. Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans. PLoS One. 2019 Oct 7;14(10):e0222394. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222394. PMID: 31589627; PMCID: PMC6779243.

[viii] Mishra BN. Secret of eternal youth; teaching from the centenarian hot spots ("blue zones"). Indian J Community Med. 2009 Oct;34(4):273-5. doi: 10.4103/0970-0218.58380. PMID: 20165615; PMCID: PMC2822182.

[ix] Zhang, S., Li, T., Xie, J. et al. Gold standard for nutrition: a review of human milk oligosaccharide and its effects on infant gut microbiota. Microb Cell Fact 20, 108 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12934-021-01599-y

[x] Anand David AV, Arulmoli R, Parasuraman S. Overviews of Biological Importance of Quercetin: A Bioactive Flavonoid. Pharmacogn Rev. 2016 Jul-Dec;10(20):84-89. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.194044. PMID: 28082789; PMCID: PMC5214562.


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