Who doesn’t love to snuggle up at home during the cold, winter months binge-watching Netflix and awards shows, and enjoying more than one or two pizza deliveries? But that kind of “winter chill” can lower your metabolism and wreak havoc on your digestive system – leading to stomach discomfort and weight gain. Even worse, an unhealthy digestive system weakens your immune system and leaves you vulnerable to viruses and illnesses.
So here’s a quick rundown of food and lifestyle strategies you can adopt to improve your digestion – helping you enjoy good health all winter long.
Eat those winter veggies.
Sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, turnips, and beets are plentiful in the winter, and they’re packed with vitamins and minerals that do a body good–especially in your digestive tract. Winter greens like kale, chard, spinach, and Brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamin C, boosting your immune system and providing your gut with the fiber it needs for healthy balanced functioning.
Use lots of spices.
Spices like turmeric and ginger have been used for centuries to soothe intestinal woes. Turmeric is widely used to reduce symptoms of IBS, including cramps, constipation, and diarrhea. Ginger soothes upset stomachs.
Cumin used extensively in Hispanic dishes can help eliminate gas and bloating. If you like it spicy, cayenne pepper stimulates digestion and can even help repair damage to your gut lining.
Eat more, smaller meals.
Instead of loading up on three squares a day, try grazing instead. Grazing is the informal name of the eating habit that involves consuming many, smaller meals throughout the day. While the jury is still out about whether this eating style promotes weight loss, a substantial body of research shows that eating six to ten smaller meals a day improves satiety and decreases bloating and other digestive discomforts. However, you’ll want to be sure you’re choosing appropriate foods and portions at each eating interval as to not overdo it.
Since winter doesn’t find most of us outside losing liquids to the heat, we often under-hydrate during the winter months, which can cause constipation and other digestive problems. Just because you don’t feel thirsty doesn’t mean you don’t need water.
In fact, by the time you feel thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated. Even when you aren’t losing water through sweating, your body needs roughly 64 ounces a day for optimal functioning, including gastrointestinal and kidney function.
Moving your body stimulates digestion, and it helps you maintain a healthy digestive system. Strive to get in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking or biking, most days of the week.
Take a probiotic.
Probiotics like Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Biotics have a wide range of benefits for your digestive and overall health. Probiotics are healthy gut bacteria that promote optimal digestion and nutrient absorption. Numerous things can lead to imbalances in the gut microbiome, including a poor diet, certain medications, and excessive alcohol consumption.
A daily probiotic helps to restore colonies of healthy bacteria to reduce digestive symptoms. Probiotics have also been shown to improve your immune function, which helps prevent colds and other seasonal illnesses that can further slow down your digestive system in the winter.
Keeping your digestive and overall health in tip-top shape over the winter months requires a healthy diet and plenty of physical activity. To boost your digestion, supplementation with a daily probiotic gives your gut the healthy bacteria it needs to function well despite long nights curled up and content on the couch.