Let's be honest – it is impossible to not go a little overboard with the treats and delicacies during the festive season. What follows next is insane amounts of satisfaction from eating those guilty pleasures, but also a neverending feeling of guilt from all the bloated-ness.
But it's not just the extra few inches that are piled on from the big holiday blowout. The microbes in our guts work extra hard to break down the overload of all that deliciously rich food and booze, while being completely deprived of the fibres and nutrients they rely on.
And from that stems a bunch of conditions like obesity, diabetes, arthritis, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, writing for Science Insider, has explained how to keep the risk of such diseases low.
The best part about the process is probably the fact that alcohol — especially wine — actually being a huge benefactor. Spector claimed one should choose food and drinks with high levels of polyphenols, including wine.
Polyphenols — natural compounds found in plants, fruits, vegetables, cereals, wine, tea and coffee — are split into two groups: flavonoids and non-flavonoids. Spector also described these as antioxidants that act as "fuel" for microbes. Nuts, seeds, berries and olive oil are also food items rich in polyphenols.
According to Spector, green tea is especially beneficial. But in a particular study by the University of Barcelona, red wine was found to increase the "good" kind of bacteria — Bifidobacterium and Prevotella.
At the same time, large amounts of alcohol can cause harm to the microbes, as discovered by researchers from the Catholic University of Rome.
So of course, there has to be adequate amounts of fibre intake, while snacking has to be simultaneously avoided in order to maintain gut health.
Artichokes, leeks, onions and garlic — which contain high levels of inulin (a prebiotic fibre) — are all good examples of high-fibre items, said Spector.
As for all your snacking needs, he suggested increasing intervals between meals to give the microbes a rest. Occasionally skipping meals or having an extended breakfast aid in reducing risks of weight gain!
Say yes to fermented foods containing live microbes, like unsweetened yoghurt, raw milk cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, soy-sauce, tempeh and natto; and a strict no to artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharine.