Too much food. Too much to drink. Too much stressing to make the perfect event. Plus, Uncle Bob supported Trump; Aunt Sally was gung-ho for Hillary; and Cousin Ted is still in mourning for Bernie. Oh, and don’t forget your sister’s new boyfriend, The Vegan. Now they’re all sitting at your holiday table. 2016 may be the most stressful holiday season in history! As if digesting a big holiday meal wasn’t taxing enough for your digestive system…
Just Thrive Probiotic founder and CEO Tina Anderson, whose specialty is the human microbiome, says the answer to your digestive woes is keeping your gut happy and healthy. Anderson offers 10 out-of-the-box tips:
- Organize a smart seating chart. Put Uncle Bob at the opposite end of the table from Aunt Sally. Announce a moratorium on political discussion for this special day (yeah, good luck!).
- Don’t watch TV—especially the news—while eating or imbibing.
- Avoid cold drinks which tend to douse your digestive fire and create undue strain on the system that’s working hard to process the festive meal. Sip hot water instead to nurture digestion.
- Create more “happy” drugs for your brain with the help of probiotics. Surprisingly, 90 percent of the body’s “feel-good drug,” serotonin, is produced in the digestive tract, in addition to digestive enzymes.
- Take specialized spore-forming probiotic bacillus strains (used for decades in the UK and Asia) with your meal to create antioxidants that boost immunity for the whole body, and also short chain fatty acids which aid digestion and protect the GI tract. These super-smart bugs actually “program” your appetite to like healthier food choices; reduce bloating; and new research shows, effectively treat leaky gut.
- Cut back on excess sugar, which ends up feeding harmful organisms and yeast in your microbiome and leads to more sugar craving. Before inhaling sweets, first have something high in protein and high in fiber. This will cut down the craving and reduce the amount of sugar you end up consuming.
- Pace yourself to avoid stress, which can actually generate harmful bacteria in your gut, compromise immunity, and make you sick. Practice meditation and deep diaphragmatic breathing to maintain an even keel. Keep in mind: Even this (Thanksgiving) will pass!
- Be grateful for everything you have. Gratefulness is the spirit of the holiday and good for body, mind and spirit. For the Thanksgiving holiday, share copies of Melanie Kirkpatrick’s delightful new book, Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience (Encounter Books, October 11, 2016). It’s the perfect, uplifting TG holiday gift.
- Take a relaxing walk or toss a football after the feast. Fresh air and light exercise are beneficial for digestion and taking everyone’s mind off politics (We strongly recommend touch, not tackle).
- Get enough sleep to help reset your microbiome and immune system. Make sleep a priority this time of year as it will go a long way to help you deal with stress and illness. Don’t forget, we’re deep in cold/flu season!
Cheers to a relaxing holiday season!