Holiday Warning: Food Additives can Disrupt Your Gut Microbiome

Tummy trouble during the holidays is not uncommon. That is because many people ingest foods during the holidays that they do not normally eat. Part of what can cause digestive problems during the holidays are the food additives common in commercially-prepared cookies, pastries, and commercially processed meats, gravies, toppings and sauces.  These food additives have the power to disrupt your gut microbiome and trigger digestive problems, food sensitivity and allergic reactions…

food chemicals-label FOOD-ADDITIVES-best

There are several factors that can cause imbalance in the gut microbiota and create havoc in your digestive system. One of those factors is food additives used in processed foods. Sometimes it is naturally-occurring additives, but many times in U.S. commercially processed foods, it is synthetic additives or industrialized food additives (chemically altering natural ingredients and/or mixing natural ingredients with synthetic additives). These additives include preservatives, flavorings, coloring/dyes, and emulsifiers (to maintain food consistency and stop ingredients from separating during storage/transport). (source)

Food additives 

“Food additives are used to prolong the shelf-life of foods and beverages. These additives include salt, vinegar and commercial additives that aim to extend a food’s lifespan. Some of these additives can alter the gut microbiota by interacting directly with the microorganisms in the digestive system, disrupting the microbiome’s balance. Some additives might act as allergens and cause stomach upset or allergic reactions. When this occurs, this can reduce populations of good bacteria, thereby disrupting the level of good bacteria in the gut.” (source)

red and yellow fruit in brown wooden bowl


Gut Balance and feeling better makes for happier holidays.

It is not always possible to have access to the ingredients listings for the holiday meals and desserts people eat at parties and get-togethers.  If you cannot be certain what is in the foods and drinks you are ingesting during the holidays, if your healthcare provider has given the thumbs up, you can help restore the balance in your gut microbiota by having probiotics either before or after your holiday food intake.  Probiotics in capsule form are available at most health food stores and online. (Read the ingredients label to be sure the capsules are free of unwanted coloring/dyes or preservatives.) Supplement this with natural foods like organic probiotic yogurt that is free of dyes and other problematic additives, apple cider vinegar in salad dressing, organic salted gherkin pickles, organic buttermilk, organic olives that are brine-cured, and kefir.  (See more probiotic foods here.)