When you think about winter, you most likely picture curling up in plush blankets by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and a plate of buttery cookies. In reality, decreased activity in cold weather + comforting calorie bombs = gastrointestinal distress or intensify gastrointestinal conditions. Here are some tips to give your digestive system a break this winter!
It’s always best to eat vegetables that are in season, and winter vegetables are great for your digestive system. Root vegetables (carrots, potatoes/sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, turnips) ripen during colder months, as do winter greens (kale, mustard greens, leeks, chard). The high fiber content in winter vegetables is also a great tool to move along a sluggish digestive system, and it helps to regulate your blood sugar levels.
Avoid Eating Cold & Raw Foods
Cold foods and raw foods are more difficult for your body to break down, which can cause contraction of the digestive system and lead to poor blood circulation. Cooler weather means a slower metabolism
Drink Hot Tea
When it’s cold outside, we’re more likely to enjoy warm drinks. To make your GI system happy, stick to teas instead of hot cocoa or sugary specialty drinks. Hot tea is just as cozy as those calorie bombs, but you won’t have to worry about all of the milk and sugar wreaking havoc on your digestion. Peppermint and ginger teas are known to aid in digestion, but be careful with peppermint if you have acid reflux. Hot tea is also a good way to drink more water in the winter months, when our fluid consumption is usually reduced. It can be difficult to pass stools when you’re dehydrated.
Ghee is clarified butter with the milk solids removed, and it promotes healthy bacteria in the gut. Since many adults have a hard time digesting dairy products, ghee is a flavorful alternative. It doesn’t spoil as quickly as butter (doesn’t have to be refrigerated) and also has a higher smoke point than butter.
Start using spices such as nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, cayenne, cloves. Mix some spices into your meals to add fall flavor and help you digest! This is also a great way to cut down on your salt intake.
It can be difficult to maintain an exercise regimen when the temperature outside plummets, but exercise can help to keep you regular. Sticking to your normal routine as much as possible during the holiday season reduces the likelihood of gastrointestinal upset.
If you feel like your GI system doesn’t work as well as it used to, call Digestive Health Associates of Texas. One of our board-certified, fellowship-trained gastroenterologists will be happy to help!