Will Thanksgiving disrupt your gut?

Will Thanksgiving disrupt your gut?

You might want to think twice before heaping that extra gravy on your turkey and mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving – and not only if you’re watching your weight.

Overindulgence can wreak havoc on your gut microbiome – that is, the bacteria, viruses, fungi and other tens of trillions of micro-organisms residing in your digestive tracts.

“Eating large portions of meat and especially indulging in sugary foods like pecan pie and other holiday favorites is known to disrupt digestive health,” says Dr. Marc Mesleh, a minimally invasive foregut surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill.

Dr. Mesleh recommends drinking plenty of water and seeking out a balance of plant-based food with your Thanksgiving dinner. Choose a high-fiber vegetable like carrots, beets, broccoli, collard greens and artichokes because high-fiber foods feed the good gut bacteria.

You might want to consider bringing your own dish featuring some of these ingredients if you’re not sure what will be on the menu where you’re dining during the holidays.

A healthy gut has many benefits, including enhancing immune system function, improving symptoms of depression and combating obesity, experts say.

“Additional research is necessary, but we’re learning more and more about how gut bacteria impacts a person’s overall health,” Dr. Mesleh says. “What is known so far is that having a healthy flora in your gut has many diverse health benefits. And when the balance is off, there can be many harmful impacts on your health.”

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About the Author

Lisa Parro
Lisa Parro

Lisa Parro, health enews contributor, is manager of content strategy for Advocate Aurora Health. A former journalist, Lisa has been in health care public relations since 2008 and has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She and her family live in Chicago’s western suburbs.