#1 Focus on Whole Foods
It is totally possible to eat well and celebrate. If you think about it, most of the traditional dishes at Thanksgiving are whole foods, and by tweaking a recipe here and there, it is possible to make healthier versions of your favorite comfort foods. Ingredients that wreak havoc on your gut are sugars, gluten (for some), preservatives, and processed foods. Make your turkey with simple herbs and spices. Mashed potatoes can be made with non-dairy ingredients like coconut milk. Change up your bean casserole to make a baked or steamed vegetable, or throw together a salad instead. Remember, it is okay to have dessert, just be mindful when you eat it.
#2 Sip on Bone Broth
Bone broth is a fantastic source of collagen. Collagen is a complex, structural protein that makes up about one-third of the protein in our bodies (1). One of the main amino acids (i.e. protein building blocks) in collagen is glycine, and glycine is essential for gut health. For one, it stops the production of inflammatory molecules that can damage the intestinal lining and it also supports the growth of the good bacteria in our gut microbiome (2,3). Taking individual amino acids can throw off our protein synthesis balance, so one of the best ways to incorporate glycine is through collagen. Other foods rich in collagen are animal meats, fish and eggs. It is best to source your collagen from grass-fed, organic sources to avoid antibiotic or pesticide contamination.
#3 Don’t Forget Fermented Foods
Fermented foods naturally contain probiotics, which are the good bacteria that should be living in your gut. They help keep your microbiome healthy and functioning properly. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, natto and tofu are all great examples of natural probiotic sources. Probiotics are also found as a supplement and can be helpful if you know what strains you are deficient in or if you have a certain condition that can be helped by a specific strain. Another option is to do a gut health test to assess your microbiome. These tests will call out the specific strains you need to get your gut back into balance.
#4 Supplement with Slippery Elm
Slippery elm is an alternative herbal medicine that has been used for centuries. It has been known to promote wound healing and digestive ailments. Recently, slippery elm has been used to protect the mucosal barrier and may benefit those with inflammatory bowel disease or IBS. It has also been shown to promote positive changes in the gut microbiome (4). As with any supplement, it is very important to purchase only those that are high quality and pharmaceutical grade.
#5 Get Your Daily Dose of Sunshine
Vitamin D is all the rage due to its immune bolstering properties. This fat-soluble vitamin also plays an important role in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Vitamin D is also important for autoimmune healing, as most people with an autoimmune disease are deficient in Vitamin D (6). Vitamin D is also found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. Other good sources are sunlight, egg yolks and liver.
Keeping these suggestions in mind can mitigate any disturbances in your gut from indulging this holiday season. If you are interested in learning more about your gut health or supplementation, please reach out and schedule a quick phone call with me. Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!