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Many of us will experience digestion issues over the festive period from overindulging in rich food and alcohol. ‘Gut flora’ thrives in our digestive system and is a complex community of microorganisms – would you believe our gut harbors 300-1,000 different species of bacteria? Poor gut health, such as bloating, constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease have been linked with poor gut flora. However, changes to diet and lifestyle can increase our good bacteria, supporting immunity and general wellbeing. Here are five steps to a happier tummy…


Increase dietary fibre

A study at the University of Michigan Medical School has shown starving dietary fibre may cause our microbes to feed on the protective lining of our gut, possibly triggering inflammation and further health implications. Therefore, we need to feed our microbes with lots of prebiotic foods to keep them happy; foods that contain non-digestible fibre and soluble fibre, which feed bacteria. Increasing our dietary fibre through low-glycemic foods such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables and pulses will increase our microbes and overall gut health.

Alongside fibre, we should be aware of increasing our water intake, as fibre and water go hand in hand. Together, they increase stimulation of our gut wall through peristalsis (a series of muscle contractions) to push the food along our digestive track, decreasing constipation, bloating and inflammation.


Fermented foods

Natural yogurt, kefir, miso, kim-chi, sauerkraut and certain pickled vegetables are full of probiotic bacteria, which fuel and support your gut with ‘good’ bacteria.


Probiotic supplements 

I always advise gaining nutrients through food, especially prebiotic foods, however probiotic supplements can be really beneficial to support our gut. Look for at least eight billion live organisms per serving.



This may be hard to manage over the festive period, but be sure to make time to wind down after parties and try not to over-book yourself. Sleep allows time for our digestive systems to recover when we aren’t being stimulated, eating or drinking. Lack of sleep can significantly influence digestive symptoms and affect peptides that regulate appetite. Avoid that midnight snack, drink a herbal tea before bedtime and take time to unwind.


Lemon and hot water

This is wonderful at giving our digestive system a detoxification boost. Lemon is packed full of vitamin C and antioxidants. Lemon helps secrete gastric juices which aid digestion of food. I also like to add some cayenne pepper over the winter months, as this not only helps to aid digestion, but also stimulates the circulatory system by opening capillaries and regulating blood sugar levels.


Sarah Ann is a lead nutritionist and mentor at Select Model Management. As a model with first-hand experience of the nutritional issues which can arise from working in the fashion industry, she decided to learn more. With an HND and BSc in Human Nutrition, she now brings clarity and a fundamental understanding of nutrition to Select, inspiring others to live well and healthily.