Tips from Registered Dietitian Jo Travers on how to get gut healthy for Christmas
Christmas is just around the corner, which means last minute planning, enjoying indulgent food and drink and celebrating with loved ones. However, amidst all this excitement, looking after our gut health At Christmas is more crucial than ever to benefit overall wellbeing.
Jo Travers, Registered Dietitian for Love Your Gut, comments: “Our digestive health can influence everything from physical wellbeing to mental health, mood, immunity, and weight. Therefore, it’s so important to not only give it the love and attention it deserves this December, but also learn to adopt healthier habits now, which can guide you to better gut health in 2023.”
To help inspire everyone to give their guts the attention it deserves, Jo has shared her expert advice – from why sleep is so important to choosing food alternatives, and why it’s so important to give yourself a gut MOT.
Get enough sleep
During the festive period our sleep patterns can change, and we often neglect sleep which can have a negative impact on overall health. A good night’s sleep allows our bodies to recover while poor sleep increases the production of stress-related hormones that can alter your gut microbiome, leading to extra stress and anxiety, as well as lowered immunity.
Did you know just two nights of interrupted sleep has been shown to disrupt the ratio of two strains of bacteria thought to be involved in preventing obesity?
This year, try keeping to a regular sleep pattern and make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet. Wake-up hormones are stimulated by light, so sunrise can interrupt the last part of your sleep. Why not try out blackout curtains or wear a sleep mask? Make sure you also avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, because both are known to reduce your chance of a sound night’s sleep.
Opt for alternatives and make your own snacks
While Christmas food is indulgent and delicious, lots of favourites like bacon rolls, paté and sausage meat stuffing can be high in saturated fat, which can have a negative impact on gut microbiota. Instead, why not opt for a gut friendly alternative such as these vegetarian Red Pepper or Walnut patés from Love Your Gut? Easy to make, tasty and good for your gut!
Don’t forget your immunity
Amidst all the festivities, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself which is why we need to make sure we help our immunity and gut health. The bacteria in our gut ‘teach’ our immune systems what is harmful or not and helps make sure the immune system doesn’t overreact when exposed to harmful antigens and keeps inflammation in check. To help these important bacteria thrive, eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains and take time out of your busy schedule to exercise and get enough sleep. Also, make sure you boost your Vitamin D levels, especially at this time of year. Between early April to late September in the UK, the body creates Vitamin D with the help of sunshine, but the sun is not high enough in the sky to do this in the winter months.
Vitamin D is important because it supports the normal function of the immune system and maintains normal bones and muscle function. Foods such as oily fish, liver, meat, eggs and fortified foods such as breakfast cereal and milk can help top you up during the winter.
For more information visit www.loveyourgut.com
 NICE guidance (2020),Insomnia. https://cks.nice.org.uk/insomnia#!scenarioRecommendation
Belkaid, Hand (2014), Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056765/pdf/nihms579635.pdf