Around the festive season, our eating habits and schedules usually look a little bit different! As we stock up on festive sweet treats, we end up surrounded by food that’s high in sugar and fat.
As a special time of year, with parties, dinners, gifts and treats, it’s easy to unconsciously overbuy or overeat. But when eaten in excess, these festive foods can really take a toll on our gut microbiomes.
The effects of festive food on our microbiome
The health of our gut can have a huge effect on our minds and body. From supporting nutrient absorption and our immune system to mental health.
Studies have even shown that the good bacteria in our gut microbiome is linked to an increased ability to manage stress. So if you have a busy festive schedule planned, a healthy microbiome is a must!
When we introduce a high amount of sugar into our diet the number of bad bacteria in our gut can increase. These bacteria thrive on sugar and can cause mild inflammation, bloating, gas and can even unsettle our immune function and nutrient absorption.
A diet high in fat can also cause mild inflammation, but it may also increase intestinal permeability, which means toxins can enter the bloodstream through the gut more easily.
With a mindful approach, you can easily protect your microbiome and stay in control of your festive food habits.
Here are 6 ways to look after your microbiome during the holidays!
1. Try not to overbuy or overeat
Tis the season of giving, hosting and having fun, so obviously a little overindulgence is bound to happen.
But if we’re constantly passed a box of chocolates, or offered extra helpings, it can be hard to say no. One way to keep ourselves in check is to minimise how much food we’re exposed to!
While buying festive food for parties and get-togethers, creating a list (and checking it twice!) is a great way to stop yourself from over buying. This can save not only money and food waste, but it also halts the need to overeat mountains of leftovers.
Another mini change could be swapping a chocolate orange for a traditional Christmas orange in children’s stockings!
2. Eat more fibre
To counteract high-fat foods, fibre is definitely a friend! Aim for an extra portion of veggies when serving meals — especially high-fibre greens like Brussels sprouts, peas and broccoli!
Public Health England recommends that adults should be eating at least 30g of fibre a day! It plays such a vital role in our gut and can improve our overall health in the long run.
Prebiotic plant fibre is a particularly amazing fibre that can promote the growth of good bacteria. You can find prebiotic fibre in Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root and also in every Jamu Wild Water can!
3. Make a conscious decision to minimise sugar
One of the major culprits in festive food is sugar. Shortbread, mince pies, soft drinks, chocolate and all their festive friends are jam-packed with it.
Why is sugar so bad? Aside from affecting our gut microbiome, excess sugar in our diets can also lead to dental issues and even type 2 diabetes.
Cutting out soft drinks is a great way to keep your sugar intake down over the festive period. But if you’re still looking for a sparkling mixer for festive cocktails, or simply a drink with a flavourful fizz, Jamu Wild Water could be the answer!
Our cans of sparkling water contain zero-sugar, 5g of prebiotic fibre and are 100% natural — perfect!
Another great idea, to tear the kids away from the thought of sweet festive treats, every time you step out the door, is for every member of the family to choose 1 new Christmas decoration for the tree, each year. Create a family tradition and look forward to the treat that keeps on giving year after year. The excitement and consideration that goes into choosing your own special decoration will soon take the focus away from anything sweet.
4. Try and stick to your normal routines
Sleep schedules and mealtimes can be affected during the holidays. And these can quickly take a toll on your mood and energy levels.
Late-night parties may have us snacking on buffet tables well into the night. A lack of sleep, trying to do too much and altered routines can cause stress on our bodies.
The stress hormone, cortisol, can cause inflammation in our gut. This can affect our absorption of minerals and affect our overall health.
It can be hard to stick to routines when you’re out having fun or busy hosting guests. But try and keep to your usual eating and sleeping/waking habits to keep your mind and body happy.
5. Drink more water
Alcohol and soft drinks dominate the festive season, so make sure you’re staying hydrated with water or zero-sugar drinks too!
A can of Jamu Wild Water can keep you hydrated, whilst also boosting your nutrient and fibre intake for the day!
6. Stay active
A little regular exercise each day can help boost serotonin levels which will help us manage our stress levels (often high around Christmas!).
Staying active can keep our metabolisms working and give us a little boost of another important nutrient — vitamin N (for nature!).
As a guest, it can be hard to turn down offers of extra helpings. And as a host, you always want to make sure there's enough food for everyone! But try to stay mindful of how much festive food you tuck into.
Your mood, health, energy levels and of course your microbiome will all benefit from it!