The Christmas season is something a lot of people look forward to and enjoy. It’s not all bliss and prosperity though. As everyone who celebrates Christmas knows, the festivities come with side effects, many of which are related to our health and well-being. Christmas is notorious for being hard on our bodies! It’s difficult to get through it completely unscathed. All of the sweets, salty foods, and processed, fatty meats can wreak havoc on our guts, brains, and cardiovascular systems, and make our waistlines swell.
This begs the question: What can we do to protect ourselves from these problems?
How can we enjoy the holidays without sacrificing our health?
The only way to completely avoid the problems outlined in the introduction is to eschew ‘inflated’ holiday foods altogether. That’s not something most people are prepared to do though. Even health nuts will have to get into the pool of Christmas delicacies sooner or later, or else, they’ll end up spending the holiday home alone.
That doesn’t mean that one has to throw all caution to the winds though. It’s certainly possible to make it through the holidays without ending up looking and feeling like a slow-moving, oversized pig that’s ready for slaughter. The most important preventative action in this regard is to not go overboard with respects to one’s consumption of the most noxious foods that abound during the holidays, such as sweet desserts, salt-laden sausages, and candy. Greater consumption of these types of foods doesn’t necessarily equal greater pleasure or enjoyment. On the contrary, it could lead to nausea and malaise. In other words, it’s a situation of diminishing returns.
Besides taking this crucial step, one can benefit from employing certain other strategies, one of which involves the consumption of traditionally fermented foods…
Strategic consumption of fermented vegetables may counteract some of the deleterious health effects that a sugar-laden Christmas is bound to produce
The consumption of highly processed foods with an evolutionarily abnormal nutrient configuration has widespread, deleterious physiological effects. It raises one’s blood glucose levels, alters the hormonal milieu of the body, and adversely affects brain function and health, among other things. To some extent, the gut mediates all of these food-induced effects on the human organism.
Part of the problem with foods such as candy, ice cream, and salty bacon is that they wreak havoc on the intestinal system by reorganizing its microbial constituents and increasing the amount of unwanted traffic that passes through its borders. This, in turn, sets the stage for inflammation, oxidative stress, and ill-health. If you consume foods such as chocolate and pizza on a regular basis, your gut will constantly be in a pathological state, and as a result, your body as a whole will also be in bad shape.
Probiotics, including lactic acid bacteria that are present in fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, inhibit the growth of a number of human pathogens, partly as a result of producing bacteriocins and acids, and can help oppose the uprising of proinflammatory gut bugs that follows in the wake of junk food consumption, thereby keeping the gut from becoming a messy, pathogen-governed dictatorship (1, 2, 3).
Perhaps needless to say, simply eating some fermented vegetables prior to hitting the sack on Christmas Eve won’t nullify the adverse health effects brought about by an extravagant Christmas dinner. It can reduce the damage though. Fermented foods produced in a traditional manner are always going to be the best choice, as they contain a “natural” balance of microbes, acids, and nutrients.
Personally, I don’t consume fermented foods on a daily basis (I think it’s generally inadvisable to take in large quantities of fermented foods on a daily basis) Rather, I incorporate fermented vegetables into my diet in a strategic manner. If something has happened that is bound to perturb my gut ecosystem, such as if I’ve eaten a lot of sugary and/or salty foods or been exposed to pathogens of some sort, I tend to bring out some fermented vegetables from my refrigerator. Not because I’m under the illusion that I absolutely need to get some probiotics into my gut to recover, but because I’ve noticed that it can lessen the damage and speed up the recovery process. Typically, I eat a couple of tablespoons of the fermented vegetable product I have at hand.
Unless you’re comfortable with being the weirdo who eats salmon and broccoli out of a plastic container on Christmas day, watching everyone else digging into heavy Christmas dishes of various sorts before eventually indulging their sweet desires, you’re bound to take in more sugar, salt, refined fat, and artificial ingredients than what’s good for you. Fermented vegetables may help reduce the damage that these substances inflict by keeping gut pathogens in check and solidifying the intestinal border, so as to limit the influx of unwanted, troublesome entities. (Like Donald Trump would say: We need to have a wall!!)
P.S. If you want to learn more about fermentation and fermented foods, then you should consider purchasing the eBook entitled Heal Your Gut With Fermented Vegetables that I wrote and published fairly recently. It contains a comprehensive description of the therapeutic potential and uses of fermented vegetables that you’ll find nowhere else.