Healthy Tahoe: 5 Tips for Better Gut Health During the Holidays

Eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables will help keep your gut healthy, and this is especially important during the holidays when our guts can get out of balance.
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The holiday season is a wonderful time of year. And while themed gatherings, comforting meals, and holiday treats are part of the magic, these events can also create some anxiety of over-indulging and herald discomfort in your digestive system.

Everything you eat passes through the gastrointestinal tract or intestines. Eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables will help keep your gut healthy, and this is especially important during the holidays when our guts can get out of balance. Along with fruits and vegetables, there are other ways to keep your gut health in check as the new year approaches:

Tip 1: Start your holidays by choosing “whole,” which means that when preparing or enjoying holiday appetizers, choose dishes with ingredients that are prepared “as they were raised,” with minimal, if any, refining. Processed foods such as white flour or white rice have had much of their fiber removed. Although not absorbed, fiber feeds our “good” gut bacteria, reduces intestinal inflammation and reduces the absorption of molecules such as cholesterol. Fewer calories but filling, fiber is important for all of us.

Tip 2: Take advantage of opportunities to eat a colorful variety of vegetables and fruits. Make sure you fill at least half of your plate with these foods. Colorful fruits and vegetables contain nutrients called antioxidants that counteract the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are formed during normal metabolism when exposed to environmental toxins and can cause damage to important cellular structures, processes and molecules, and this damage can be avoided with an adequate intake of antioxidants.

Tip 3: Drink a glass of water after a glass of wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverage. This will fill you up and make you less likely to overindulge in alcohol. Although it remains a popular drink, alcohol has health issues, so it’s best to limit your intake.

Tip 4: Eat more slowly. Chew your food well to swallow less air and have a better sense of when you are full. This will help you avoid overfilling your stomach. A packed stomach can cause reflux, when food and acids back up into the esophagus.

Tip 5: Set a schedule that you can stick to and try to eat at the same time every day. Your GI system benefits from a schedule. Also, set a bedtime for your gut. Eating late at night can change your microbiome, the 100 trillion microbes that live in your gut. Try to eat 2-3 hours before bed to give your body enough time to digest.

Bonus tip: Manage your stress. Everyone manages stress differently, so finding a stress-relieving activity that works for you is key. Some healthy ways to reduce stress include going for a walk in the fresh air, deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, and exercise. Stress can interfere with digestion and cause discomfort such as inflammation and bloating.

Before diving into holiday events, try setting an intention with gut health at the forefront. With a simple plan, you can reduce the potential stress and discomfort of the holidays so you can enjoy the precious parts more fully.

Dr. Azadeh Brumand is a board-certified gastroenterologist at Barton Gastroenterology, offering referral-based treatment for digestive disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease or inflammatory bowel disease, among many other gastrointestinal conditions in the Lake Tahoe community. Contact your primary care provider for a referral or for more information visit

Azade Broumand

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