Ahh the holiday season! The food, the drink, the precious time with family and friends… Our minds abuzz with anticipation as we jam-pack our social calendars, whilst our bodies, well, they just come along for the (bumpy) ride.
Let’s face it. Your gut health is probably the last thing on your mind right now. Who has time to worry about gut microbes when you have presents to buy and meals to plan?!
We get it. When you are having fun, health tends to lose its place at the top of the priority list. The trouble with the ‘but it’s the holidays!’ approach is that it’s all well and good until our health returns to front of mind and routine is well and truly out the window.
Whether it's sampling new recipes or indulging in old favourites, changes to regular meal habits can be a big part of the holiday season. Add to that the stress from all that rushing around, and you have yourself the perfect recipe for tummy troubles.
The good news is, there is a way to have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. As a gift to you, our team at Life-Space have found some sneaky ways to still have fun without sacrificing your gut health over the holiday season.
1. A little goes a long way: You will be happy to know that you don’t need to sacrifice the odd glass of wine in order to take care of your gut. In fact, polyphenols found in red wine are not only antioxidants, but can also act as a prebiotic food source for beneficial bacteria. The trick – as it often is - is moderation. So, if and when you choose to pair a nice red with your meal, don’t exceed more than one 250ml glass. Unfortunately, the same evidence does not apply to other alcoholic beverages, although white wine is associated with some milder benefits. For those who don’t drink alcohol, fermented drinks such as kombucha or kefir can make a great alternative.
2. Resistant starch is gentler on the tummy: Those of you with sensitive tummies may be all too familiar the difficulties of navigating through carb-rich holiday menus loaded with breads, pastas, biscuits, cakes and the like. Thankfully there are some carbs that are easier to digest than others. One such type of carb is called ‘resistant starch’. Unlike fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols (AKA FODMAPS), which rapidly ferment in the gut, resistant starches ferment slowly. This helps limit gas production which can be the cause of distension and discomfort in the gut. Resistant starches can be found in a mix of grains, vegetables and legumes. Even roast potatoes are on the menu, just make sure you allow them to cool before consuming, to increase resistant starch content.
3. Relax, have a laugh: The holiday season is an opportunity to reset and recharge. It can be easy to get caught up in the rush of it all and forget to sit back and take a moment to appreciate the good things in life. The thing about stress is that both the brain and gut can be affected, thanks to what is referred to as the gut-brain axis. Research has shown that stress can have a negative effect on both gut ecology and function. Taking the time to look after your mental wellbeing, may be just what your gut needs!
4. Probiotics for gut health – Ever wondered which probiotics are considered the best probiotics for gut health? Well, you certainly wouldn’t be alone, but unfortunately there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. The best probiotic for gut health = the best probiotic for your gut health. Everyone has individual needs when it comes to maintaining the health of their gut microbiome and this can be influenced by diet, life stage, health status and medications to name a few. This is why Life-Space offers a wide range of probiotic formulations to suit different life-stages and provide targeted benefits. *
5. Take an after-dinner stroll – Whilst it can be tempting to have a nap after a big meal, this can increase the likelihood of experiencing gastric reflux. Instead doing modest exercise, such as taking a short walk around the block, can help reduce the likelihood of gastric reflux, all whilst you get to scope out the neighbour’s Christmas lights!
At the end of the day, it’s all about balance. Making a few simple tweaks can help you (and your gut) survive and thrive the holiday season.
*For individual health advice, please speak to your health professional.
 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 Jan 1;158(1):270-
 Fuentes‐Zaragoza E, Sánchez‐Zapata E, Sendra E, Sayas E, Navarro C, Fernández‐López J, Pérez‐Alvarez JA. Resistant starch as prebiotic: A review. Starch‐Stärke. 2011 Jul;63(7):406-15.
 Foster JA, Rinaman L, Cryan JF. Stress & the gut-brain axis: regulation by the microbiome. Neurobiology of stress. 2017 Dec 1;7:124-36.
 Karim S, Jafri W, Faryal A, Majid S, Salih M, Jafri F, Hamid S, Shah HA, Nawaz Z, Tariq U. Regular post dinner walk; can be a useful lifestyle modification for gastroesophageal reflux. Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association. 2011;61(6):526.