Gut Health For The Holidays

Hey guys! I'm super excited to share a guest post from my friend Stacey over at Holistic Hangover! She's sharing some tips to help keep our gut in check over the holiday festivities.
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No matter what you’re celebrating, the season has only just begun, and for most of us the celebrations continue until the early days of 2018.  With holiday season comes indulgences such as overeating, late nights, and a few too many bevvies.  This is all very fun and festive, but in excess can lead to major imbalances in your gut.      

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I’m sharing a few little tips so you can give your gut the gift of health.  I’m talking food-based probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive aids.  No supplements here folks!

I gotta start with kombucha.  This is my fave beverage (after wine of course).  If you haven’t jumped on the booch bandwagon yet, then let me introduce you to it.  Kombucha is a fermented tea that is often flavored with things like ginger, berries, or citrus.  The fermentation process creates probiotics, which helps ensure the good bacteria in the gut outweigh the bad.  We’ve all heard tons about the benefits of probiotics by now, so we know that they’re all stars for the digestive system.

From personal experience, kombucha works absolute miracles for a hangover.  The combo of tea, sugar, and fizz is magical, and even better if you can get ginger flavor.

Side note: since I mentioned the word “fermentation”, I should let you know that fermented foods in general are great for balanced gut flora.  (Sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, miso etc.)

Next, ACV or apple cider vinegar is staple in my kitchen.  It has sooooo many uses, but right now let’s just talk about digestion.  I like to take a tablespoon of this straight up like a shot before larger meals.  This acts as a signal to the stomach to start producing those digestive juices, making this great for anyone with a sluggish digestion.  If you’re a normal person that is not used to drinking straight vinegar, then just dilute it with some water (most people actually recommend this) and plug your nose and down it, but I promise it’s not that bad.  I also recommend ACV to those who have post-meal heartburn.  Heartburn, contrary to popular believe, is rarely due to high stomach acid.  Instead it’s often a sign your stomach is low on acid and is having trouble digesting the food.  A little ACV after a meal can usually help ease the discomfort of heartburn.

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But wait; don’t buy just any old jug of cheap cider vinegar!  Here’s a mini checklist of “musts” when looking for apple cider vinegar.

  • - Raw
  • - Organic
  • - Unfiltered
  • - Unpasteurized
  • - Cloudy, with floating stringy bits is GOOD!
  • - Bonus if it actually says “With Mother”

My fave is Bragg

Lastly…this little gem of a prebiotic food, garlic.  Prebiotics are awesome because they are a type of fiber that acts as food for the flora already living in your gut.  So when I say garlic, I’m talking raw.   If you’re not brave enough to chomp down on a clove or two, try adding it (with a heavy hand) to your dips and dressing.  One of my favourite ways to eat raw garlic is from the olive bar at the grocery store.  They can usually be found marinating in olive oil in their own little compartment.  The olive oil seems to take away some of the pungency.  I can put away 6-8 cloves over the course of an evening this way, and it definitely mellows out the taste and takes a major edge off garlic breath.

Other great prebiotics include onions and leeks.  Even lightly cooked they still maintain some of their prebiotic fiber qualities.  Also chicory root and Jerusalem artichoke can be mentioned here, they’re top 2 on just about every list for prebiotic fiber, but I’m mentioning them last because they seem the least likely things for people to a) find in a store and b) figure out what to do with.  Could just be me though.

Please note: if you have serious digestive issues then don’t rely on these little tricks as treatments.  These are just a few little tips to incorporate into your holiday diet to ease any overindulging discomfort.  Seek the help of someone who can work with your specific symptoms such as a nutritionist, naturopathic doctor or other health care provider.