WITH exactly three weeks to go until Christmas, many of us are well aware of the need to get a flatter tummy before putting on our festive glad rags.
But rather than splurge your hard-earned money on diets and expensive gym membership, there are some simple steps you can take to lose weight before you gorge on those mince pies.
And there are certain foods you can incorporate in your diet to blitz any bloating in the lead up to the 25 December.
In particular, the American Gut Project – the largest ever study into gastrointestinal issues – has found that a diverse plant-based diet is the key to a happy gut.
And a happy gut = bloat-free belly.
And the fastest way to keeping your gut healthy is by ensuring that your diet is rich in pre- and probiotics.
But what are they and how can you get a load of them in your day-to-day diet?
You can easily introduce prebiotics into your diet without taking supplements.
Foods rich in them also tend to be rich in dietary fibre too, so they’re well worth chowing down on:
Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that bacteria can feed off.
Sounds gross, but having a diverse array of good bacteria in your gut is actually what keeps it healthy.
And the only way to maintain a diverse crop of friendly microorganisms is to feed them a wide variety of healthy foods.
Will Hawkins works at online GP service Push Doctor, and he says that while eating a load of natural prebiotics may at first cause some gas and bloating, they’ll help to ease any gut issues in the long run.
Again, you don’t really need to invest in supplements – you can get enough good bacteria from food stuffs.
But remember, fermented is best:
– Greek yoghurt
– Dark chocolate
– Miso soup
These are the actual good bacteria that feed off prebiotics.
They come in the form of fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut, miso soup, kimchi and other tangy delights.
As well as having anti-inflammatory properties, probiotics keep your gut tract clear, which is why they’ve been touted as being helpful in combatting irritable bowel syndrome and urinary tract disorders.
So, what are Will’s top tips for a happy, healthy gut?
1. Cut out sugar, refined carbs and Diet pop
“Refined carbohydrates, sugars and sweeteners – all things that we most likely regularly consume, and all which can have a negative effect on our gut microbiome,” he explains.
“‘Diet’ versions of popular drinks and foods with synthetic sweeteners aren’t bad in moderation, but excessive amounts have been shown to have a detrimental effect on your overall health and your microbiome.”
2. Add a little spice to your day
Spices that aid good gut health
“Spices can have an unbelievable effect on our body,” says Will.
Many popular spices have been found to have a proven effect on reducing inflammation in the gut.
Reducing inflammation allows the body to create a larger cultivation of bacteria – and that’s what leads to a healthy gut.
3. Crack out the red wine
Polyphenols are chemicals found in plants.
They’re really good for protecting againt the bloat and they’re found in a number of foods, including:
– Cocoa powder
– Dark, leafy veg
– Green tea
We’re definitely not saying that drinking the whole bottle is a good idea, but a small glass of red wine might well aid your gut health.
Foods rich in polyphenols are proven to both improve the quality of gut lining and in encourage the growth of microbes.
4. Eat a varied, balanced diet
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“A varied diet equals a healthy digestive tract,” Will says.
“Your gut bugs favour diversity. They thrive on new, interesting foods which may encourage you to try new foods as much as possible!”
Like you needed much of an excuse.
Last week we revealed how one woman discovered her “bloated stomach” was actually ovarian cancer.
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