Insights

Gut Health Supplements for the Holidays

Nov 18, 2020 / by Dana Faris RDN, LD

Whether you’re traveling across country or having a small celebration at home, poor gut health can put a damper on your holidays. 

In order to support you during these indulgent months, I’ve collected some of the gut health supplements that I recommend for my patients to optimize digestion and reduce the risk that gut symptoms ruin holiday fun.

Probiotics

Our gut is home to over 100 trillion bacteria. These bacteria influence functions throughout the body including our metabolism, immune system, and cognitive health to name just a few. Research shows that your gut microbiome can quickly shift over a period of 3 to 4 days. By incorporating a diet rich in fiber and whole foods, your microbiome can shift in the positive direction. Conversely, a diet packed with sugar and processed foods can quickly cause your microbiome to shift in a negative direction.

The probiotic I take during this holiday season is TrimSynergy Probiotic. This unique probiotic formula can help:

  1. Balance the microbiome
  2. Support weight management
  3. Regulate feelings of hunger - the addition of African Mango Seed increases the body’s sensitivity to leptin, a hormone that tells the body when you are full.
  4. Cortisol management to reduce stress and minimize belly fat
  5. Support emotional well-being  

Herbal Antimicrobials 

While probiotics are great for supporting the gut microbiome, if you are prone to developing yeast or bacterial overgrowth, I recommend taking a small dose of herbal antimicrobial supplements leading up to indulgent meals. Candicid Forte is a supplement that promotes healthy microbial balance. While an active infection of yeast or bacterial overgrowth might require the full dose of 2 capsules three times a day, you can take just 2 capsules once a day for a few days leading up to and the day of indulging in more sugar, starches, or alcohol. The Oregano Leaf Extract can be very effective at keeping infections at bay.

Candicid Forte contains ginger root which supports overall digestion and can help with any tummy troubles you may experience from having one too many servings of sweet potato casserole. It also contains berberine which is found to support blood sugar regulation and decrease leptin levels, thereby supporting fat metabolism.  

Digestive Enzymes 

It goes without saying that we all tend to overindulge and consume more food than typical during the holidays. While our body naturally produces digestive enzymes, overeating and stress can overwhelm the pancreas and reduce the levels of enzymes. In addition, travel and time-changes can throw off our overall digestive process and the movement of food through the digestive tract. This leaves us feeling heavier, bloated, and sluggish. Who wants that during holiday parties and gatherings with family?  

Bio-Gest and Digestzymes are both high-quality comprehensive blends of enzymes to support proper digestion, especially for those who experience gas or bloating after a meal. They also contain the special protease DPP IV (dipeptidyl peptidase IV), which aids in the breakdown of the peptides gluteomorphin (from gluten) and casomorphin (from casein).

Collagen

Collagen is one of the major structural proteins in numerous tissues of the body, making up 30% of the total protein mass. You may know it best for its benefits for hair, skin, and nail growth, but it has powerful benefits for optimizing gastrointestinal health (especially when we over-indulge). 

As we consume inflammatory foods such as gluten or grains, dairy, processed foods, excess sugar and alcohol, we can cause damage at the cellular level of our digestive tract and contribute to “leaky gut”. Leaky gut is often the leading cause of multiple complex health issues. Studies indicate that permeability of the intestinal lining, and consequential inflammation play a role in the development of several common chronic diseases.

Collagen is supportive in restoring the gut lining when you are exposed to inflammatory foods. My favorite form of collagen comes from long-simmered bone broth. If you don’t have easy access to high quality bone broth, hydrolyzed collagen powder is another great source. One high-quality brand is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. Add this tasteless powder to coffee, tea, or smoothies for a delicious gut-protective treat. It even comes in convenient travel packs to take with you for the holidays.

Histamine Degraders

Histamine gets a bad rap in the world of allergies, and many of us have been feeling the effects this fall with headaches, itchy eyes, runny noses, or even congestion.

So why does this matter for optimizing your digestive health over the holidays? Interestingly, in addition to environmental allergens, certain foods and beverages can also raise histamine levels. In terms of holiday celebrations, two big culprits that can be loaded with histamine are alcoholic beverages (specifically beer and wine) and leftovers such as turkey or casseroles. When any food or beverages has increased time to age or ferment, there is a rise in its natural levels of histamine.

If you find that you are experiencing headaches or allergy related symptoms over the holidays, trying a supplement like GI Hist Support could be the solution. It contains diamine oxidase (DAO) which is responsible for the breakdown of food-derived histamine in the digestive tract. Taking some of this before having a glass of wine or prior to eating leftovers could support in reducing any of the negative symptoms you could experience if you are more sensitive to histamines. 

Magnesium Citrate

Have you ever noticed that your digestion slows down and becomes sluggish during long drives or flights across time zones? There are a variety of potential reasons for this, including changes in types of food consumed during travel, reduced consumption of water, increased consumption of alcohol, lack of exercise and changes in sleep patterns. In fact, it is theorized that intestinal motility follows a biological rhythm that can be thrown off with a shift in time-zones.

If you are finding yourself in an uncomfortable situation over the holidays, Magnesium Citrate can help get your bowels moving on a regular schedule again. It helps with bowel movements by relaxing the muscles that control motility and attracting water to the stool to help loosen things up a bit. It is recommended to start with just 1 capsule, and slowly increase until things begin to move normally. If stools get too loose, you simply back off the dose until things are normal again.

If you're traveling and need a convenient gut support combination, you might like our Gut Builder Packets. These pre-packed blend of probiotics, yeast and immunoglobulins is ideal to protect against nagging digestive issues like gas, bloating and constipation.

 

The holidays are a joyous time of celebrating all the important things that life has to offer. A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, heart health, brain health, improved mood, better sleep, and optimal digestion - allowing you to relax and enjoy the season. 

 

Tags: Wellness, Functional Medicine, Pharmacy, homepage

Dana Faris RDN, LD

Written by Dana Faris RDN, LD