We know it to be true--a healthy gut is linked to a healthy immune system, energized body, well-functioning brain and effective digestive system. We also know that the holidays, the time of spreading joy and cheer, are a time for enjoying decadent treats, sleeping less and socializing more (though maybe not in 2020 😉). Taking off time from our "regular" routine does not have to mean abandoning gut health goals until the new year. It is possible to celebrate, indulge, relax and spend quality time with loved ones while keeping gut health in mind.
So here are 6 ways to enjoy the most wonderful time of year while also keeping our gut happy, merry and bright!
Manage Your Stress Levels
Whether you have to come up with a whole new way to celebrate the holidays this year, in charge of your family's menu, or just trying to keep up with presents and decorations, tons of stressors can trigger us into a stressful state during the holidays. Our mood is connected to our digestive system, and research has shown that anxiety and depression symptoms are linked to gut inflammation (1). When we are overly stressed, our gut microbiome can be negatively impacted. So, during a very jolly but stressful time of year, it is important to prioritize a routine to manage your stress. Take five to ten minutes every morning to meditate, go on short walks every few hours, listen to music that calms you down or boosts your mood, and take breaks when you start to notice your stress levels going up. Taking time to keep stress levels in check is the best way for you and your gut to make the most of this holiday season.
Move your body!
When it gets cold outside, it's easy to cozy up to the fire and let go of our exercise routine, trading it in for a session snuggling up with the couch instead. However, even when holiday music entices us to stay in, getting outside or finding a way to get some physical exercise is incredibly important for us to maintain a healthy gut. Keeping up with exercise is an excellent way to improve our gut health, also improving our immune system, keeping us healthier. Research has also shown that 30 minutes of physical exercise a day improves healthy microbes in the gut (2). The research also found that the gut reverted to its prior state after six weeks of sedentary behavior. So, make sure that whether you are walking, jogging, running, biking or doing any home workout, you are keeping up with your physical exercise routine during the holidays. Stream that upbeat holiday music and keep up as you celebrate the season!
Make Time for Regular Meals
With tasty treats and more leftovers left around the house before, during and after the holidays, it is an easy time of year for us to get off track and skip regular meals and snacks. The problem is that eating at varying times makes our digestive system have to work extra hard, resulting in indigestion, bloating, and discomfort in our guts. Eating regularly, having a meal or snack every 3-4 hours gives our stomach the time it needs to digest our food properly and keeps us from overeating (3). Even during the holidays, keeping to this schedule will keep you and your gut feeling strong, ultimately allowing you to enjoy your holiday without the side-effects of an unhappy gut.
Catch all of the Zzz's
The holidays can be a hectic time, meaning that it's more likely for our immune systems to become compromised, as our sleep habits tend to be different than they usually are. While it might be fun to pull an all-nighter waiting for those footsteps on the roof, sleep offers your body something that can't be wrapped with a bow—the opportunity to rest and repair. Insufficient sleep can contribute to systemic inflammation and can have negative effects on your gut. Give yourself the gift of self-care this year. Try for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night over the holidays. Your gut will thank you!
Keep Sipping to Stay Hydrated
'Tis the season for eggnog, hot chocolate bombs and apple cider. Everyone has a favorite sugary drink or cocktail to look forward to during the holiday season. Don't let your favorite holiday sips keep you from getting your daily dose of H2O and staying hydrated! Staying hydrated improves our gut health by moving nutrients around the body, easing waste removal, and flushing out the harmful toxins out of our gut. Having a hydrated gut comes with several other perks, including better energy levels, improved metabolism, and even healthier skin. We suggest having 2-3 liters of water a day to keep you and your gut hydrated. Try to track your water intake by keeping a water bottle handy or even infusing your water with fresh fruits or herbs that can add taste and increase your fiber intake at the same time!
Get Your Daily Dose of Probiotics (and Prebiotics, too!)
Keeping up with your probiotics is an excellent way to keep your gut functioning smoothly and healthily. While the holiday menu might not be full of probiotics, it is important that you find a way to sneak them into your holiday diet. Probiotics help you rebuild the healthy bacteria in your gut, keeping the bad bacteria from over accumulating. By making sure to have some probiotics in your diet amidst all of the different holiday dishes that make this time of year the best. You can make sure that your gut will be able to digest all the treats optimally and keep you feeling healthy throughout the whole holiday season.
Adding Inner Life! 's prebiotic drink mix to your daily routine is another way to ensure you get your daily dose of prebiotics in an easy way. Using Inner Life! makes meeting your daily prebiotic needs easy and is conveniently packaged in single-serve sticks. Each serving of Inner Life! 's prebiotic drink mix provides 3.8g of the clinically-proven prebiotic fiber, Arabinoxylan. Inner Life! is made with only the best ingredients, meaning no artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, or gluten. Additionally, Inner Life! is gentle on the stomach and will not cause the bloating or belly discomfort associated with other prebiotic fibers. Just add it to water and enjoy—over the holidays and every day!