There’s a lot going on this time of year that can wreak havoc on your gut health. Exposure to more illnesses, overindulging in foods and drinks you may not normally eat, and disruptions in our sleep patterns can all disrupt the delicate balance of intestinal bacteria known as the mircobiome.

Maintaining balance is necessary for boosting immunity and supporting healthy digestion and metabolism. Without it, we’re more susceptible to sickness, and that post-indulgence feeling of bloat and discomfort.

So what can be done if we need to be among germy crowds at shopping malls and office parties or want to sample all the seasonal sweets and other temptations?

Take a proactive approach to boosting your gut health!

Several diet and lifestyle choices can help nourish gut bacteria and maintain your health during the holidays. While many of these may be second nature during the rest of the year, they should definitely be amped up this time of year.

Fiber and Fermentation

Cookie swaps, office parties, and other seasonal celebrations are generally centered around food, and even those who try to eat clean most of the time find it hard to resist a rich and caloric holiday spread. By ensuring that your diet includes plenty of curative foods you can help offset the effects of the poorer diet choices you make, and often ward off the tummy ache that goes with them.

Fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains, as well as fermented probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut help good bacteria thrive, and create an environment for efficient digestion. In addition, being mindful of sugar intake when not celebrating can lessen the inflammatory effect of the sweet treats consumed when in party mode.


Research shows that not getting sufficient sleep for just two nights can dramatically affect bacteria levels in the gut. Since the holidays often call for some later-than-usual nights with family and friends, make sure the shuteye you’re getting is restorative by stopping the intake of alcohol or overly rich foods in the hours before bedtime. These foods require a lot of energy to digest and can keep you from getting quality sleep.

Skip the Sanitizer

It’s cold and flu season, and you should definitely wash your hands frequently, but skip antibacterial cleansers and gels. There’s no evidence that these products prevent illness any better than good old-fashioned soap and water, but they do kill the good bacteria along with the bad, reducing your ability to fight off infection. What’s worse, they may be contributing to resistant bacteria.

Taking proactive steps to nourish and boost your digestive health can help you more fully enjoy this holiday season.