By Dr. Cassidy Miller, ND
The holidays is a time of celebration, tradition and memories. But it can also be filled with stress, tension and a whole lot of emotions. While there may be a lot of outside factors influencing your mood, that extra irritability, sadness or anxiety might not only be from your overly critical relatives.
It may have a lot to do with what’s happening on the inside.
Our gut houses our microbiome- this is the incredible ecosystem of microbes (bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses) that live within us and create a delicately balanced environment that keeps us healthy. While we typically associate gut health with GI symptoms, it actually has a dramatic effect on many other systems of the body, including our mental and emotional well-being.
Our Happy Hormones
Roughly 90% of our serotonin (the hormone that makes you feel happy and at ease) is made from bacteria in the gut.
Likewise, GABA (which helps us to feel calm and curb anxiety) and dopamine (which is our feel-good neurotransmitter involved in the pleasure and reward system) are also influenced by the gut microbiome. This correlation between our brain and our gut is known as the “gut-brain-axis”.
Keeping it Balanced
The food you eat is critical to maintaining this axis and keeping it well balanced. Certain foods, like sugar, simple carbohydrates, excessive saturated fats and processed foods, feed the bacteria that leads to symptoms of depression, anxiety, irritability and other unfavorable moods. This is known as “dysbiosis” or an imbalance in your gut bacteria.
Whole foods, like fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and lean protein feed the bacteria that lead to feelings of well-being, satisfaction and staying on top of that long to-do list. This is the sign of a balanced microbiome.
Unfortunately, many of our holiday favorites- from pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving to the cookie baking and hot chocolate traditions of Christmas are none too kind to our beneficial bacteria.
When our gut bacteria experiences the disruption from all the heavy holiday fare, it disrupts the delicate balance that leads to the production of our feel-good hormones. In other words, holiday junk food leads to the holiday blues.
However, going without these traditions just seems wrong.
The Solution to that Happy Feeling, All Throughout the Holidays
Adding in a high density of fruits and vegetables around the holidays can be extremely beneficial at feeding those good bacteria while not having to give up all of your holiday favorites. One of my favorite ways to get a very high level of superfoods is via a juice cleanse.
A cleanse packs a ton of nutrient dense foods all together in a short amount of time, which gives your gut and your mind the fuel it desperately needs to rebalance, feel good and take on all the holidays have to offer us.
As a physician, there are three top things I like to watch out for when evaluating a juice cleanse.
1. Getting enough protein
Often in a juice-only cleanse there is a lack of protein that can actually decrease energy and make you feel worse.
Not incorporating protein might be ok if you plan to give your body a lot of time for rest and rejuvenation, however, during the busy holiday season it can actually be more detrimental as you push your body to keep up with your busy schedule without having enough protein on board. The good news is, Vegan Vanilla Proteini provides all the protein you need while on your cleanse to keep both your energy and mood levels up.
2. Getting enough fiber
Traditional juicing has extremely high nutrient contents, but typically removes insoluble fiber, which is extremely beneficial for keeping those good gut bacteria happy.
Adding in a meal or an additional source of fiber during the juice cleanse can help achieve even better outcomes. Pineapple Chia Cleanse provides both soluble and insoluble fiber from 15 different superfood plants to keep your microbiome richly nourished and happy.
3. Avoiding high sugar content
One of the common pitfalls of juicing is the high sugar content that can come from adding too many fruits into the juice and leading to a juice with extraordinarily high sugar levels. Making sure the vegetable ratio is much higher than the fruit is one way to help keep the sugar levels down. Our award-winning Organic Pressed Greens is packed with some of the most nutrient-dense vegetables while having one of the lowest sugar contents on the market.
It can be difficult and expensive to find a cleanse that meets all of these criteria. Luckily, Smart Pressed Juice has a fabulous juice cleanse program in easy to use packets that are extremely low in added sugar and include all of the phytonutrients, fiber and protein your body needs to boost your mood and have you feeling refreshed and ready for the holidays. If you prefer to get the juices themselves as a wonderful addition to your diet, the Life Bundle or Everything Bundle is one of my favorites, with everything you could possibly want from plants.
We all know you’re going to pull off the perfect holiday no matter what, but giving your body that extra boost with a cleanse can be just the ticket to help you feel on top of it all this season.
Here's to keeping things merry and bright, and don't forget to reach out to our private Facebook community to get support from the rest of us on your healthy journey. We're all in this together!
Dr. Cassidy Miller, ND and the SMART Pressed Juice Team
A new series featuring leading physicians who love plants as much as we do!
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