Gut feeling: Why good gut health is so important for your digestion – and how to help it this Christmas

From tons of turkey and roast potatoes to mountains of mince pies and yule logs aplenty, Christmas is truly a time to eat, drink and be merry.

However, all that over-indulgence can take its toll on our bodies, especially our digestive systems, leaving us feeling absolutely full to the brim.

But there is something you can do rather than just suffering in silence. If you look after your gut before the big day, you’ll be in the best position to have a great time without worrying too much.

Not only that, keeping your tummy in tip-top condition all year round can help your health in so many different ways, it’s worth paying attention to.


The gut is the common term for the gastrointestinal tract which goes from your mouth to your rear. It’s also called our digestive system.

Inside the gut is a ‘microbiome’ – a collection of bacteria that live in our small and large intestines.

In fact our tummies are absolutely teeming with bacteria – we each have over 100 trillion of them in total weighing around 5lbs and outnumbering our human cells ten to one.

They fulfil incredibly important functions including helping our bodies break down food, absorb nutrients, and produce cells and hormones.  This is why it’s so important to look after your gut.

There are many different types of bacteria in the microbiome, and while we don’t yet know the best balance for our health, it does seem that diversity is a good thing.

However, many things affect the types of bacteria that live in our gut, including our lifestyle, genetics and environment.

Unhealthy diets and lifestyles can increase the amount of ‘bad’ bacteria in our microbiome, which can lead to illness. So it’s important to eat a varied diet that’s rich in plant-based foods to try to increase the amount of ‘good’ bacteria in our tummies. Regular exercise and sleeping well can also help.


A happy gut has a huge positive impact on our overall wellbeing. Increasingly scientific research is showing that what goes on in our tummies doesn’t just affect our digestion but a whole host of other biological processes in our bodies.


For us to keep feeling our best, we need the bacteria in our gut to thrive. And to do this, we need to feed them well. 

So we need to eat plenty of foods such as veggies, beans and wholegrains to give them something to munch on. Fermented products like yoghurt and kefir have also shown promising results. Alternatively, you could try taking a supplement. 

Holland & Barrett has a host of new, expertly formulated tablets with calcium to support your digestive enzymes and bacterial strains to show your tummy some love.

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