Digestive issues are common, but as everyone’s mix of intestinal bacteria is different, symptoms can range from slight discomfort to needing a specialist!
If your gut issues usually surface around the festive period, they’re most likely caused by your lifestyle and food choices during this time. And while probably not serious or painful, ‘jingle bowels’ can definitely dampen your festive spirt!
Here’s how to keep your gut flora balanced…
Eat more fruit and vegetables
Although you might eat fruit and vegetables as part of your usual diet, South African festive fare often includes more meat and sweet treats. Eat fruit and vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, apples and bananas as they aid digestion.
But the adage ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’ still holds true, insists the wellness team at Santé Wellness Retreat and Spa. Eat when you’re hungry, stop before you’re full, and plan your meals – for instance, if you want Christmas pud and all the trimmings, only have one roast potato, or leave out the bread and cheese.
Wholegrains such as oats, whole rye and brown rice are great sources of fibre and help to produce good bacteria in your gut. They also keep you fuller for longer, so help you fight the urge to snack on unhealthy treats.
“Exercise is great but don’t beat yourself up trying to do major workouts every day,” is the advice from Santé. “Do whatever exercise you really enjoy, and 20 to 30 minutes three or four times a week is good enough to keep the metabolism going.”
Yoga can help alleviate symptoms of an unhealthy gut such as bloating, digestive pain and discomfort. It assists by eliminating toxins, increasing oxygen flow and ultimately helps to make you feel lighter and calmer. It can also be done anywhere and at any time, even on holiday!
Staying hydrated is important for our overall health. Try increasing your water consumption by adding fresh mint or cucumber for a refreshing taste.
Fermented foods and drinks
Consume fermented foods and beverages, such as kimchi or kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented beverage that is a rich source of probiotics, which aids digestion, assists with cognitive function and boosts immunity. “I had digestive issues for many years and found that drinking kombucha improved my symptoms dramatically,” says Meghan Werner, founder of kombucha brand, Theonista.
Stick to organic wine
Enjoy your wine but make it organic. Without all those pesticides and chemicals, you’ll feel a whole lot better in the morning. Also remember to match each glass of organic wine with at least one glass of water to keep you hydrated.
Say no to excess
Be kind to your digestive system over the festive period, giving it what it needs and not over-indulging too much!
Avoid caffeinated drinks after 2pm, and when you do eventually go to bed, have some chamomile tea – it’ll help you sleep better.
Also remember that breakfast means to ‘break the fast’ and that, to give your digestive system a chance to recover, there should ideally be at least 12 hours between your last meal at night and picking up your fork again in the morning.