It’s a common scenario during the festive period: you tell yourself over and over again not to overeat this time. But before you know it, the plates are piled high, one serving becomes two… and you’re washing it down with log cake and yet another glass of wine.
But an expanded waistline is not the only consequence of festive overeating – your gut health may also suffer as a result, with bloating and digestive problems being the most common issues following a period of over-indulgence. Here are some easy ways to reset your gut health.
1. Increase your intake of soluble and insoluble fibre
Soluble fibre – found in grains, fruit, beans, and root vegetables – doesn’t just aid in the natural movement of the digestive tract. When broken down, it also produces substances that nourish the tract and aid in the proliferation of friendly bacteria.
Upping your intake of insoluble fibre, of which vegetables like lettuce and cabbage are a great source, may also help. Because the body does not break down insoluble fibre, it adds bulk to stools, making it easier to pass out of the body.
2. Both prebiotics and probiotics are important to gut health
Earlier, we talked about how fibre is good for the digestive tract. That’s because it is rich in prebiotics, which function as a type of “fertiliser” for the good bacteria that already exists in your bowel or colon.
What probiotics does, however, is introduce more of this good bacteria into your system, which may be what you need after a period of festive eating as the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut is thrown out of whack. Food sources rich in probiotics include yoghurt, tempeh, and pickled vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi.
3. Kick-start those workouts
Those workouts aren’t just for keeping expanding waistlines in check. In recent years, studies have suggested that there is a link between regular exercise and more diverse gut flora. And this, in turn, may lead to a stronger immune system and reduced inflammation in your body.
While the relationship between exercise and the health of gut flora is complicated and needs to be more firmly established with further studies, it goes without saying that a little more exercise in your life is never a bad thing. For starters, try yoga. Some poses – particularly the ones that involve twisting – act as a gentle massage for the digestive tract and help bring fresh blood to the epithelial cells, which are responsible for keeping your gut healthy. Regular exercise – be it yoga, running or other forms of working out – has also been proven to help alleviate constipation which can help make you feel less bloated.
When you take care of your gut health, you’re not just relieving yourself of discomfort. Ensuring optimal health of your gastrointestinal system also contributes to your overall wellbeing, as it also affects hormone regulation, your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, elimination of toxins and even mental health. So remember: when your gut is trying to tell you something, it’s best not to ignore it.