What is optimal as the seasons shift? As the seasons change and we dig out our sweaters, becoming conscious of supporting our best gut health is feasible with mindfulness. Those with healthy diets and lifestyle practices will fare well in the colder months, but if the summer months got the best of you with overindulgence, consider transformational practices to reeve up wellness. As the cold weather sets in, our metabolism naturally slows down due to constant exposure to lower temperatures. Therefore, this lower metabolic rate can impair digestive processes, thus affecting gut health. What’s our best course of action? Corrective measures to help manage and maintain overall gut health:
Maintain your exercise routine. Just because it is cooler doesn’t mean a brisk walk or daily movement is off the table. Conversely, we have a more diverse microbiome when we spend more time in nature. That diversity supports a functioning and robust immune system void of inflammatory responses.
Consume seasonal vegetables. The cooler months bring an incredible variety of vegetables that support gut health. For example, consuming cooked potatoes, carrots, and turnips improves immune activity. Bonuses to boost digestion include adding spices and herbs like turmeric, garlic, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon to enhance and strengthen gut functionality.
Cook more at home. Explore the benefits of cooking meals in the comfort of your home. With meal planning and prep, saving money is also an added perk! Plus, bringing your family or friends together creates a sense of community, nurturing, and well-being.
Get quality sleep. Restorative sleep is a must for body, mind, and spirit.
Stay, eat, and drink warm—colder temperatures outside cause our digestive system to slow down. Drinking warm beverages and eating warmer foods (don’t forget those warm spices) are supportive measures in cooler seasons: soups, stew, hot cereals, and roasted vegetables. Remember to bundle up and keep your body temperature safe.
Practice good hygiene. With the cooler temperatures comes cold and flu season. Becoming more mindful of washing your hands and even covering your nose and mouth with a tissue after sneezing can help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria that could negatively affect your gut.
Limit ultra-processed foods and sugars. Try cooking more at home using fresh ingredients, frozen or canned ingredients. Use your label reading skills and be mindful of added sugars, bogus ingredients, sodium, and saturated fats. Resist the urge to order out more than you cook at home. Change takes effort and time, so make good intentions, and soon, you will find a groove that works for you.
Consistency: Consistency is one of the most obvious factors that separate a successful and unsuccessful outcome. Stay consistent. When we make a rational decision to implement change, our mindset is crucial to developing steady habits. However, life does have its ups and downs. Motivation can be trying on those not- so-opportune days, but your effort can be that reliable friend in these situations. We play dodgeball with barriers daily in most aspects of life but as long as we stay realistic with goals, scheduling, intentions, and actions, those hurdles become easier to sidestep. You will make mistakes from time to time but own them, let them go, and start anew. Give yourself grace and credit for your efforts and the mindset shift.
Reward your efforts as progress, not perfection. As you embrace the colder months and will most likely spend more time indoors, daylight becomes noticeably reduced, and routines change. Our attention is adjusted, and we are guided to shift our attention inward to prepare for the season that encourages rooting, rest, and more quiet time to restore balance. As always, focus on the smaller successes instead of the end goal. This way we recognize and appreciate the progress and accept, embrace, and enjoy those moments, even if they aren’t ideal.
Patience is a virtue, change will come with time, your best intentions, and consistency.