The holiday season is upon us! This is the start to the holiday parties and dinners with family. Although this is a fun time of the year, it can also be a stressful time for many that deal with digestive issues. Many of my patients suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or SIBO. They manage their digestive symptoms by avoiding specific foods, detoxifying their digestive system, taking probiotics and managing an overgrowth of fungus or bacteria with medications. During the holidays, it can be difficult to maintain these dietary and medication regimes.
In this article I would like to discuss some strategies to maintain a healthy gut and manage digestive symptoms while still enjoying holiday entertaining.
If you have gas, bloating or constipation and have been diagnosed with candida overgrowth or SIBO, here are some tips to keep your digestive system healthy and avoid the return of those bothersome dysbiosis symptoms.
First, make sure you are taking your probiotics. Consider increasing your dosage if you will be drinking more alcohol or eating more sugar (including natural fruits). I usually suggest at least 25-50 billion live bacteria per dosage.
If you suffer from candida or fungal overgrowth, start taking a natural antifungal daily. I suggest Caprylic Acid or Oregano capsules. Taking both antifungals and high dose probiotics will keep your digestive system healthy in lieu of your holiday eating choices.
Sugar can really wreak havoc on a digestive system. Eating too much sugar contributes to dysbiosis, fungal overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth leading to symptoms such as gas, bloating and constipation. During the holidays season it can be difficult to avoid sugar. I suggest minimizing processed sugar. Choose fruit as a dessert, particularly fruits lower in sugar such as berries and apples.
Here are a couple recipes to try recommended by our Holistic Nutritionist, Natasha Asselstine:
- Mix Berry Tart with Coconut Whipped Cream (omit all the honey for lower sugar version)
- Baked Cinnamon Apples with Coconut Cream
Holiday season is definitely the time many of us enjoy holiday drinks including alcohol. Keep in mind fermented alcoholic beverages and sugary drinks do feed the bad gut bacteria and yeast. Choose low fermentation alcohol drinks such as those made with Vodka or Bourbon.
Let’s not forget the holiday non-alcoholic drinks that can be very high in yeast and bacteria feeding sugar. Specialty coffee drinks like flavored lattes and mochas are very high in sugar. Egg nog, fruit juices and apple ciders can also have a lot of added sugars. Choose regular coffee and add a little bit of honey and cinnamon as a sweetener. Choose low sugar varieties of eggnog and other holiday drinks which are now becoming more available.
We all know it is very hard to completely avoid sugar and fermented alcohol. My patients always ask what they can do to minimize the digestive symptoms when they do drink alcohol and eat sugar. Again, I suggest the following:
- High dose probiotics (50 billion units per dosage)
- Anti fungal products such as caprylic acid, berberine or oregano
- Digestive enzymes
Choose low sugar fruits for dessert, only eat a small “taster” piece of a high sugar dessert (if you cant avoid it completely), avoid high sugar drinks and choose low-fermented alcohol beverages.
Enjoying your life and maintaining your health is all about balance. Make the best food choices you can and support your body with the right nutrients to keep your digestive system healthy. If you do find your digestive system has been thrown off balance by the holidays, there are great gut detoxification programs available to bring your system back to balance. January can be a great time to do a digestive cleanse!
Happy Holidays to all of you from the Vitalia Health Care team. Find balance in the choices you make and mostly enjoy the holidays!
Yours in health,
Dr. Tasreen Alibhai, ND