Three Food Rules For A Happy Gut This Christmas
Christmas is a time for abundance. Food, family, gifts, love and wrapping paper, excess is the name of the game!
But do you feel your gut always suffers after Christmas day? It may not be so much the amount you are eating (although this will certainly play a part), but the types of foods you are combing in your meal.
Our digestive system is a wonderfully complex arrangement of systems that works in harmony to extract nutrients from food. You may think all food just gets happily heaped in a melting pot and digested, but in fact there are several different digestive enzymes that play a role in breaking down different types of food.
Our key digestive enzymes are lipase (fat metabolism) proteases and peptidases (protein metabolism), and amylases (carbohydrate metabolism). Each enzyme is magnificent at breaking down its respective molecules, but unfortunately they do not always get along with each other. The key reason behind this is that proteins need an acidic stomach to break down properly, whilst fat and carbohydrates need a more alkaline environment.
When the body is secreting enzymes to break down proteins and carbohydrate at the same time, the net effect is very poor digestion, as the acid and alkaline cancel each other out. Welcome bloating, gas, cramping and sluggishness. This is a result of fermentation and purification in the gut, not digestion.
Rule No 1. Avoid carbs and protein in one meal.
Pasta and meatballs, burger in a bun, tofu and potato salad. Many people jump to blame the bread, beans or pasta in these situations, but it is more likely the combination of the starches (carbs) and protein that is causing you digestive hell. Wait at least 2 hours after one to have the other, which will give your gut a little reprieve and time to digest properly.
Rule no 2. Veggies go with everything (except fruit)
Vegetables are relatively easy to digest and do not need a super supply of digestive enzymes like proteins and carbs. There are some exceptions such a Brussel sprouts (which can be a little tougher to digest), but generally good to combine with fats, carbs and proteins. Avoid combining with fruit though, as these are digested at different rates and may lead to problems.
Rule No 3. Avoid melon with anything!
Melon is delicious, but unfortunately is digested much faster than anything else in the above mentioned foods. This can lead to bad gas and bloating. In fact, Melon has often been associated with a high bacteria count (Listeria and Salmonella) due to processing and harvesting complications, and is the cause of gut problems in many people. It’s best to have melon alone, or not at all to avoid issues.
Breaking these rules once or twice is generally not a problem, your stomach can cope with the extra stress. When you consistently consume non-compatible foods though, this can lead to ongoing low levels of inflammation in the gut. Long term gut inflammation can be a pre-curser to all kinds of issues, from irritable bowel syndrome to liver toxicity.
Women in particular can be very sensitive to changes in the gut, and as an approach to women’s health in my practice I always look to address gut issues with overall health. If you follow these rules and are still finding you are having issues, it may be worth booking in for a consultation with your alternative health practitioner to find out if there are any deeper causes to you discomfort. The gut is the largest immunity organ in the body and deeply linked with our moods, so sometimes issues with immunity or stress may be contributing to your problems.
Wishing you a happy gut and a happy holiday!