Nutrition Edit

Five tips for a gut-friendly festive season

The festive season is finally here, so we can look forward to laughter, holidays, family time and sharing gifts. But it can also mean stress, late nights, and overindulgence, which can wreak havoc on our gut skin axis and lead to tired-looking, dull skin. One thing’s for sure is it doesn’t have to be boring; our skin researchers recommend their five top tips for a gut-friendly festive season.

SAD gut

At Advanced Nutrition Programme™, we refer to an imbalanced gut microbiome as a S-A-D gut. This is because the contributing factors all start with the letters S-A-D. These factors include stress, smoking, sleep problems, alcohol, ageing, antibiotics, and diet such as fast foods and high sugar. Each one of these can lead to an imbalanced gut microbiome, which can show on our skin with blemishes, redness, sensitivity, and signs of ageing. Our research team recommend their tips below to avoid a SAD gut this season and maintain a happy, youthful, radiant appearance. 

1. Healthy swaps

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is key for skin health. A high sugar diet rich in chocolate, sweets, and fast-food feed the unfriendly bacteria in our microbiome, which can lead to problem skin, redness, and other skin concerns. Of course, the festive season is a time to enjoy our favourite treats and so you should – but there are a few healthy swaps you can make which still taste just as scrumptious.

  • White potatoes to sweet potatoes
  • Milk chocolate to dark chocolate
  • Mince pies to fruit crumble
  • Crisps to unsalted nuts
  • Red meat to white meat
  • Cheese straws to bread sticks 

TIP: Remember to feed your microbiome with fermented foods and fibre as they are also great for the gut microbiome, as they are prebiotics and feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut. Include foods such as miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, legumes, beans, peas, asparagus, and berries which all help support the gut flora.

2. Drink a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks

It is the season to be merry after all, and one thing you can count on during the festivities is the alcohol will be flowing. Although, drinking too much alcohol causes dehydration it can also wreak havoc on our gut. To continue the fun and enjoy a tipple or two without upsetting our gut microbiome, our skin researchers recommend having a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink and being smart with the amount you are having. Do this and your gut (and head) will thank you it. Also, make sure you have something to eat before going out to a drinks party.

3. Take 10 minutes for a daily dose of calm

As much as Christmas can be fun, it can also be stressful, cooking for lots of people, fitting in more social plans while juggling work, and mixing with extended families – tensions can rise. The increased levels of cortisol can irritate your gut microbiome, which can also show on your skin in many ways including increased oil, irritation, blemishes, redness, and sensitivity. A healthy way to manage stress over the Christmas period is to make sure you take 10 minutes each day to yourself for a daily dose of calm. We recommend meditating, practicing some breathing techniques or a quick yoga workout to manage stress levels. 

4. Enjoy a festive walk

After enjoying your Christmas dinner – there can be nothing nicer than wrapping up in your coats, gloves to enjoy a walk outside. Research shows that regular exercise can help enrich our gut microbiome diversity[1] – so keeping up the exercise during the holidays is a great step for your skin. 

5. Make beauty sleep a priority

During the holidays, our routines go out the window. Late nights mean our sleeping pattern is off – but making sleep a priority is key for maintaining a diverse gut microbiome. Not getting the sufficient quantity or quality sleep can have a serious impact on your gut as it can reduce the all-important microbiome diversity. A study was conducted on the gut-brain axis and showed a gut microbiome diversity was correlated with the number of hours of sleep were had[2]. Make sure you’re getting at least7-8 hours for a happy diverse gut microbiome.

The festive fun doesn’t have to impact our gut diversity, there’s plenty of nutrient-rich foods you can consume such as miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, foods high in fibre and healthier swaps. Additionally, being smart with the number of alcoholic drinks and keeping hydrated in between and some healthy self-care habits such as exercise, meditation and making sleep a priority will ensure you have a gut-friendly festive season.


  1. Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects. National Library of Medicine. Vincenzo Monda, Ines Villano, Antonietta Messina, Anna Valenzano, Teresa Esposito, Fiorenzo Moscatelli, Andrea Viggiano, Giuseppe Cibelli, Sergio Chieffi, Marcellino Monda, and Giovanni Messina. March 2017.
  2. Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans. National Library of Medicine. Robert P. Smith, Cole Easson. October 2019.