The foods you should avoid this Christmas and when to eat – expert

Tips for looking after your gut health over Christmas

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For many people the Christmas period is a time of overindulgence when it comes to food. While there is nothing wrong with the occasional tasty treat, too much of certain foods and drinks can have a lasting effect on our bodies. However, there are ways we can still enjoy our festive favourites without doing too much damage, an expert has said.

Doctor Tim Spector, from the ZOE Health Study, shared his top 10 tips for staying healthy over Christmas.

In a YouTube video, he said: “We’re approaching Christmas and food is key to immunity, it’s linked to your gut health and your gut microbe.

“So it is really important you do keep your gut nourished and it can be tricky to think about this as we’re overindulging.”

Avoid processed foods

Avoid too many ultra-processed foods, it’s impossible to avoid them completely,” he said.

“All these packaged foods that have large numbers of ingredients and chemicals are not particularly good for your gut microbes.”

Keep chocolate dark

He advised: “Now we all love chocolate but it is much healthier if you make it dark chocolate – over 70 percent, with minimal ingredients.”

Fermented foods

“Do try to have some fermented food daily over the season” Dr Spector recommended.

“It may protect you from the excesses of eating and alcohol.

“Whether that’s yoghurt, kefir but also enjoying real cheeses and sauerkrauts and pickles on the side.”

Give your gut a rest

He said: “You’ve been doing a lot of eating.

“Try to give your gut at least a 12 hour break before overnight. I think that will really help.”

Plant-based foods

“Obviously keep trying to eat lots of plants and this is a good time to see how many you can do when you’ve got a lot of time on your hands,” he said.

“Remembering that nuts and seeds and herbs and spices all count as plants.”

Stay active

Dr Spector urged: “Go for a walk, don’t just be completely sedentary.”

Steaming and roasting

“Steam and roast your veg rather than boil it to maximise the nutrients,” he said.

“And just shorter cooking time the better, if you’re putting it in water.”

Snack on nuts

Dr Spector said: “Remember that nuts are a really good healthy snack full of polyphenols full of fibre and nothing bad about them at all.”

Be picky about alcohol

“If you are going to drink alcohol and you’ve got a choice I’d pick one that’s high in these defence polyphenols that are good for your microbes, like a glass of red wine or an artisan or unfiltered cider,” he added.

Try kombucha

The doctor concluded: “Otherwise why don’t you try kombucha which is my tipple of choice and most places have kombucha now.

“There should be live microbes in that.”

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