Insights

Gut Health Supplements for the Holidays

Nov 18, 2020 / by Dana Faris RDN, LD

Whether you’re traveling across the country to visit family or having a small celebration at home, poor gut health can put a damper on your holiday. Regardless of how “good’ you’ve been during the quarantine months, rich foods and alcohol are difficult to avoid during the holidays. Some level of bloating, gas, weight gain or constipation usually follow these dietary choices.

In order to support you during these indulgent months, I’ve collected some of my favorite gut health supplements to optimize your digestion and reduce the risk that gut symptoms ruin your holidays. This will make your new year resolutions much easier to follow!  

Collagen 

If I could choose one supplement to take with me on a desert island, this would be the one! 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. I often drink this with a meal or as substitute for coffee or tea. It’s a great warming drink in colder months. If you don’t have easy access to high quality bone broth, hydrolyzed collagen powder is another great source. My favorite 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.

Probiotics

Our gut is home to over 100 trillion bacteria. These bacteria can influence a variety of 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.

If your holidays are packed with starchy carbs and desserts, your gut may be at risk for dysbiosis. Adding a high quality probiotic to your supplement regimen can help prevent bad bacteria or yeast overgrowth.

The probiotic I’ll be taking 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.  

Gluten Enzyme (DPP IV)

If you are sensitive to gluten, this is definitely a supplement to have in your digestive health arsenal!

When traveling or celebrating, we can have great intentions of sticking with our diet and avoiding foods that traditionally don’t sit well with us. Realistically, maintaining absolute control during the holidays isn’t going to happen. GlutenFlam contains Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV (more simply known as DPP IV), an enzyme that targets the breakdown of gluten. It is priceless if you feel the need to relax your gluten restriction for a meal or two.

It’s important to note that this supplement is beneficial in terms of accidental exposure. If you have Celiac disease or are otherwise sensitive to gluten, I would recommend continuing to avoid gluten 100% while using GlutenFlam for accidental exposures or environments where you are not positive something is gluten-free.

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?  

Digestzyme-V is a comprehensive digestive enzyme that aids in both the digestion and the absorption of the food that you eat. It helps in stimulating the pancreas while also providing an extra supply of its own enzyme blend. In addition, it has gentian and artichoke leaf extract to stimulate the body's natural production of bile, which is critical in fat absorption.

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 HistDAO could be the solution. HistDAO 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. Magnesium Citrate 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