The holidays are just around the corner, and you know what that means…’tis the season for gut issues! Of course, the delicious, comforting food and drink surrounding this time of year are some of the best parts of celebrating. But if certain indulgent foods don’t make you feel as good as they used to, you might have a gut sensitivity.
If you struggle with gut issues such as leaky gut, gut inflammation, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the holidays can be a stressful time when it comes to loading up your plate. Functional medicine can help you fix your gut health now so you can enjoy the holidays without worrying about painful digestive symptoms.
Gut health is essential to overall well-being because it gives your body the fuel it needs to thrive. So why not make a conscious effort to improve your overall gut health before the season of indulgence is upon us? Here’s how to reset your system – just in time for the holidays!
If you want to take on the season with a healthy gut, watch our free webinar.
Why Prioritize Your Gut Health Before the Holidays?
It’s important to remember that a lot of your health and immune function lies in your gut. When you mess with your gut health, you impact your hormones, immune system, nervous system, and mood. So if you prioritize your gut health before the holidays, it won’t take such a big hit from the stress you experience or the food you consume.
This isn’t to say you won’t be able to eat pumpkin pie or cranberry sauce this holiday season. You will be able to enjoy a few indulgent meals without causing too much trouble with your gut. And getting your gut healthy now will significantly reduce any potential digestive issues that you might encounter at upcoming parties or family gatherings.
What Are the Risks of Poor Gut Health during the Holidays?
You should always prioritize your gut health, but it’s easy to put things on hold during the holiday season. Here are some reminders of why you shouldn’t overlook your gut health.
- Increased Risk for Digestive Disorders
Common digestive disorders such as IBS or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)can be caused by high amounts of sugar, dairy, carbohydrates, and alcohol – all of which are in abundance during the holidays. These foods feed bad gut bacteria and can lead to symptoms like brain fog, inflammation, fatigue, joint pain, and skin issues.
Additionally, many holiday staples like alcohol and gluten are known to increase the permeability of your gut lining, allowing toxins and bacteria to enter your bloodstream. This phenomenon is known as gastrointestinal permeability (leaky gut), a primary cause of autoimmune disease, chronic inflammation, and other serious health conditions.
- Weakened Immune System
It’s especially important to keep your immune system strong and healthy during the winter months. To have a highly functional immune system, you need to have a healthy gut. More than 80% of your immune system resides in your gut, impacting how you feel physically and mentally every day. If your body is fighting off symptoms from a digestive disorder, its ability to protect you from infections and viruses is significantly compromised.
- More Likely to be SAD, Anxious, and Depressed
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder sometimes referred to as seasonal depression or winter depression. Research shows that many people with SAD have an imbalance of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, memory, sex drive, and more. The reduced sunlight from the winter months can cause a drop in serotonin and trigger SAD.
Further, imbalances in your gut caused by excess sugar, alcohol, and processed foods can majorly impact your mood and contribute to anxiety and depression.
Since more than 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, it’s imperative to keep your gut healthy during this time of year.
Tips to Heal Your Gut before the Holiday Season
You don’t have to ignore your gut health on holidays and accept the bloating, extra time in the bathroom, and other consequences as normal. Instead, use the following belly-balancing tips to feel more energized, healthy, and resilient towards whatever this holiday season might bring your way.
- Crank Up Your Fiber Intake
The bacteria in your gut crave fiber. Fiber keeps gut bacteria healthy, which in turn allows your gut bacteria to do their jobs more efficiently. Basically, the more fiber in your diet, the more productive your gut can be. What better way to prep for the holidays than to ensure your body is easily digesting food and moving things along quickly?
- Drink Lemon Water and Apple Cider Vinegar
Two of your greatest allies for improving gut health are citric acid and acetic acid. The citric acid from lemons and acetic acid from apple cider vinegar help stimulate protein digestion and prevent bloating. If you know you’ll be having a big holiday meal, start the day off with a warm glass of lemon water with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. In general, drinking lemon water and apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning is a great way to improve your gut health on a daily basis.
- Eat Fermented Foods
Foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, and kombucha are loaded with good bacteria to keep digestive disorders at bay. These foods are also good sources of probiotics, which help to crowd out the harmful bacteria responsible for symptoms of digestive imbalances like gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
- Remember to Move
Even the most active individuals can find themselves glued to the couch in the colder months. Exercise has a positive influence on your gut health and promotes balanced blood sugar. However, when you stop moving, you miss out on the benefits of exercise for your gut, contributing to gut health falling apart over the holidays.
- Improve your ZZZs
Don’t underestimate the power that sleep can have on your gut health. Sleep deprivation can worsen digestive issues, increase inflammation, and prevent your digestive tract from repairing itself. Take advantage of these short autumn days and get to bed early. Your gut will thank you!
The Functional Medicine Approach to Gut Health
Functional medicine can prevent the onset of chronic diseases and reverse symptoms, making it an ideal solution to protecting your gut before the holidays. The functional medicine approach to gut health is an individualized, patient-centered, and science-based approach that aims to address the underlying causes of digestive issues. Instead of treating the symptoms, functional medicine focuses on the root causes of your gut dysfunction.
The simplest way to improve your gut health is through nutrition. This can involve eliminating certain foods from your diet, eating more fruits and vegetables, doing a cleanse, or consuming supplements.
However, changing your diet can be a difficult job to tackle on your own and it may not be the full picture. If you are unable to absorb the nutrients your food contains because of a leaky gut, the best food won’t correct the problem. At Tri-Cities Functional Medicine, we specialize in a functional medicine approach to gut health and can help you repair your gut health over time. For many patients, it can take 2 to 3 months to repair gut health. So if you’re struggling with a digestive disorder, there’s no time like the present to get your gut health back on track.
If you have concerns about your gut health, take the first step:
- Watch a free webinar to learn about our approach to the health concerns you are facing.
- Schedule a Free Discovery Call to discuss your health concerns and goals to see if our practice is a good fit for you.
- After your discovery call – if we are a good fit, you’ll schedule a consultation with our doctor to dive deeper and formulate an individualized treatment plan for you.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.