• Masarat Jilani

Eat, drink & be merry: foods to keep you and your gut happy

Food is glorious. It has the ability to both nourish the mind and the soul. Poor nutrition can have big consequences leading to deficiencies or even serious health problems. On the other hand, having a nutritious diet can help you live longer, feel better and keep your gut happy. At Christmas, it is the time to eat, drink and be merry. So why not make your gut happy, too?

Your gut itself is very important when it comes to your overall health. The microbiome within the gut has been shown to boost immunity and prevent illness.

Festive foods to keep you and your gut happy

Try these tasty food ideas this Christmas and your gut will be sure to thank you for it.

Pack some fibrous punch

Most of us do not have enough fibre in our diet, but fibre is essential for keeping the gut healthy. We need both soluble and insoluble fibre to help the gut digest food and to keep our poop healthy, too. Insoluble fibre on its own can sometimes flare up a sensitive irritable bowel. That’s why we recommend drinking plenty of water with your fibre and having soluble and insoluble fibre together. So why not try festive granola containing dried cranberries and cinnamon?

Plate up the lean protein

For meat lovers, we have some good news: lean protein is found in turkey! You can enjoy your Christmas dinner knowing that skinless turkey is a protein full of goodness. Unlike other fats which can be bad for the gut, turkey protein is a great source to keep your muscles healthy. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, then fear not, you can still enjoy lots of proteins from seitan, tofu and edamame.

Seize some serotonin

Serotonin is your happy hormone and it is actually made from a protein called tryptophan. Not only does it help with your mood, but also improves sleep and memory. Removing tryptophan from the diet has been shown to increase the risk of depression (especially if there are other risk factors like genetics or lifestyle-related factors). Serotonin mainly lives in the gut and is produced by the gut microbiome. It’s important to ensure we are eating foods which contain tryptophan to ensure that the microbiome can thrive in producing serotonin.

Pile on the probiotics

One festive treat which could provide you with some probiotics is red cabbage - the fermented type. It’s full of bug which can help enhance the microbiome which already lives in your gut. Other probiotics you could try are the Korean delicacy kimchi (a spicy fermented cabbage) or the yoghurty kefir. Add some festive flavours like cranberries and cinnamon, use it in dips or as a topping for Christmas desserts. The gut microbiome is one of the most important parts of the human body, crucial for the immune system, mood and general health. Treating it right this Christmas means you’ll be bringing in the new year right

Try some tasty teas

Christmas is the perfect time to put a twist on a warming drink - the coffee shops are full of festive lattes, but why not also have some festive teas? Peppermint tea can hit just the spot! Especially since it has been proven to help with all IBS symptoms. But you do not have to stop there! Add some peppercorns and cloves to really give it that festive twist or infuse your water with different flavours from lemon to peppermint - that’s a great way to stay hydrated as well.

Veg out with veggies

The best snacks incorporate one of your five a day. Sometimes, eating too much fruit can make gut symptoms flare, but vegetables are normally a safer option. Both fruit and vegetables are full of benefits though, so it’s vital to eat them during the festive period.

Festive veg to try is Brussels sprouts, yummy parsnips, tasty carrots and why even artichokes, peas or spinach. You can eat veg as a snack, add them to a dip or have them as a side dish.

That way, you are tantalising your tastebuds and providing lots of nutrients for your gut and the rest of your body.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! Do share what festive treats you make, especially if they contain any of the tasty treats mentioned in this article. We would love to hear your gut-friendly festive recipes.

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