I like to refer to the holidays as “Diet Breaking Season.”
It happens to all of in some way or another --you're with your family and friends, and one thing is on everyone's mind: food.
Cakes, cookies (oh-so-many-cookies) and indulgent dishes for every meal are the norm for so many during the end of the year. It’s a time to be around your family and friends and just enjoy yourself.
Problem is, these times of indulgence often become excuses for us to pig-out and enjoy a little (or a lot) more sweets and processed goods than we intended.
Now that the fun and festivities are over, how do we get our gut health back on track now that we are standing here in 2018?
Below is how you can get your gut back on track here at the start of 2018, and keep it there.
Up Your Fiber Intake
What your gut bacteria crave more than anything is fiber.
It’s fiber that works as a prebiotic that feeds the bacteria in your gut, and when the bacteria in your gut are receiving what they need --they can do their jobs that much more efficiently.
Fiber creates an environment that your gut bacteria can flourish in. The more fiber that is in your diet, the more productive an environment your gut becomes. Digesting food, moving things along smoothly and assisting in keeping your trips to the restroom regular --fiber is a crucial part of a healthy diet that so often gets overlooked.
Now that the holidays are over, which was more than likely very scarce on fiber in your festive diet, it’s time to crank up your intake of fiber.
Consider taking a short “Cleanse”
The holidays were more than likely a time of indulgence in all of your favorite foods.
That being said, it may be something of help to your system if you took a break from indulgent foods for a few days... or even weeks if you are disciplined enough.
Try cutting out meat, dairy, and sugar related foods from your diet. While this may sound like an impossible request, attempt this “cleanse” for just a few days at a time.
Aim for 3 days without meat, or 3 days without anything sugary. Once you see that you truly do possess the strength to cut out entire portions of your diet, you can try extending those periods from 3 days into a week, and so on.
Cutting out portions of your diet that are harmful for your gut health is a great way to push your gut health back on track fairly quickly.
Punch up the polyphenols
Polyphenols are like little maintenance workers in your gut.
They patrol the colonies of your gut and look for the bad bacteria that don’t belong or are too unruly to stay. Any bad bacteria that is non essential is blasted out of there, and the necessary bacteria are what remain.
This in mind, it’s important to have heightened levels of polyphenols working through your body at any given time. After a holiday season full of indulgence? Punching up the polyphenols should be on your to-do list, especially in the weeks following a gut destroying diet.
Get familiar with fermented foods
We’ve mentioned this in a past article posted here on the Freshly Blended Blog, and it’s that probiotics are an essential part to prime gut health.
Probiotics are the free radical fighting and positive gut bacteria boosting agents that roam gut. In terms of your gut, they are the positive bacteria, and are found naturally in fermented foods such as kimchi, pickled foods and kombucha.
Jump up the supplements for one week
With how much attention the gut is getting and all you can do to properly treat your gut --it’s almost overwhelming. It certainly may feel like there are a lot of things you should try and keep track of.
Here’s a cheat sheet:
Reduce (or cut out) your consumption of red meats, dairy, sugars and processed additives, as they can knock your gut off balance when eaten too frequently.
Increase your intake of fiber, polyphenol and probiotic rich foods, as this creates an environment that the bacteria living within your gut can flourish in--which provides you with more energy, smoother digestion and more regular trips to the restroom.
Following this kind of eating plan is likely to bring your gut health back into balance relatively quickly, even after all that holiday snacking. While you should aim to make this eating plan a permanent fixture, taking breaks from your regular diet to follow this one can do wonders for your gut and overall health.
When it comes to gut health, it’s about enforcing your microflora and giving what it needs to recover and work properly. When it’s working as it should, you’ll certainly notice the difference.
Cardona, Fernando et al. "Benefits Of Polyphenols On Gut Microbiota And Implications In Human Health." The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2013.
Hemarajata, Peera, and James Versalovic. “Effects of Probiotics on Gut Microbiota: Mechanisms of Intestinal Immunomodulation and Neuromodulation.” Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. 2013.
Doucleff, M. "Chowing Down On Meat, Dairy Alters Gut Bacteria A Lot, And Quickly." NPR. 2013.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read here. This article is for general information only.