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With winter well and truly making it’s presence felt these days, it’s easy to lose sight of some of our healthy, summer habits – regular exercise, balanced eating and adequate hydration – in favour of lazy days on the couch and sweet treats. However, as the mercury drops it becomes even more important to maintain good gut health. Research suggests that between 70-80% of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut – so a happy, healthy gut may just be the secret to a happy, healthy body this winter.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Whilst it may be a little easier to remember your daily H2O intake in the warmth of summer, it’s just as important to maintain adequate hydration levels in winter. Ensuring that you drink enough fluids each day is an easy way to support good gut health – as these fluids can help your stomach acids to break down the food you consume. Additionally, adequate daily fluid intake can support regularity of bowel movements and help you avoid unpleasant conditions such as constipation. As a general rule, it is suggested that women aim to consume approximately 2 litres of fluids per day, with men consuming slightly more (2.6 litres), but this can vary pending your sweat losses, exercise preferences and food choices. Add some fruit and veggies, like cucumber to your water or try a herbal tea if you’re looking for a happy, hydrating flavour boost!

Variety is the spice of life

Of course, we all know that it’s important to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables all year round – but winter certainly delivers in this department. The fresh produce of the season is packed with the essential vitamins and nutrients to nourish your body and support your immune system. You can also support your gut health by choosing fresh produce that is rich in prebiotic fibre such as:

A table of fruit and vegetable for a happy gut.

As you can imagine, many of the vibrant, nutrient-packed veggies listed above are perfect for adding to hearty winter soups and stews. Add some wholegrains to your soup or stew and you’ll supercharge its prebiotic power – delicious and nutritious!

Wholesome wholegrains

Picture this. It’s a chilly, foggy winter’s morning – and you’re sitting down to a steaming, warm bowl of porridge. Yum! What a brilliant way to start your day. Wholegrains such as BARLEYmax® and oats are a rich source of prebiotic fibre. Prebiotic fibre acts as a food source for the probiotic bacteria in your gut, like fertiliser for the garden and is a critical ingredient in supporting good gut health. Looking for some winter-warming breakfast inspiration? We’ve got you covered with our range of BARLEYmax® porridge recipes.

Get moving

Yes, we know – it’s much easier to stay inside with the heater on, than it is to get up and outside to pound the pavement. However, regular exercise can make a big difference to the health of your gut. Specifically, any exercise that moderately elevates the heart rate can be useful in stimulating the abdominal muscles to move digestive waste through the body. Not to mention, a workout will also get the endorphins – your feel good hormones – flowing! Whether it’s a walk around the block, a yoga class or perhaps a gym session, pick an exercise that you enjoy and make a regular date with yourself. Both your body and mind will thank you for it!

Catch some zzz’s

Rest and restore – because you can’t drive a car with an empty fuel tank. It’s crucial to your gut and overall health to get an appropriate amount of good quality sleep each night. In fact, a lack of sleep has been associated with an increase in gastrointestinal disorders, decreased diversity in the gut microbiome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Hit the hay and aim for between 7-9 hours per night. Oh, and if you can – avoid your devices (phone, laptop, tablet, television) for at least 30 minutes before you put yourself to bed each night. Doing so can help ensure a more restful nights sleep, so that you feel fresh as a daisy upon waking the next day.

Simple but effective, we hope these tips will help you stay happy and healthy this winter!

Intended as general advice only. Consult your health care professional to discuss any specific concerns.

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