Expert nutritionist rounds up the most gut-friendly products from the high street’s favourite festive hampers
The holiday season is a time of indulgence, and Christmas hampers can be the perfect way to treat the whole family, full of mouth-watering food and drinks from mince pies to cheese and everything in between. However, for those with digestive health issues it can be a nightmare knowing what to pick.
Bowel & Cancer Research ambassador and expert nutritionist, Lily Soutter, has rounded up the best gut-friendly options from some of the UK’s biggest brands – because no one should miss out on all of the festive treats…
Specially Selected Peppermint + Liquorice teabags
Whilst post-dinner coffee is a popular choice, soothing teabags may be a better option if your stomach is sensitive to caffeine-rich food and drinks. Coffee can increase gastrin production which can speed up bowel movements, triggering symptoms in those with digestive complaints. Whilst we all have different abilities to tolerate coffee, peppermint tea can be a better alternative for those who are particularly sensitive.
Specially Selected Crackers Spelt and Sourdough Crackers
These crackers are made with a blend of grains, including spelt and rye. Complex carbohydrates are a source of fibre, a key component required for a healthy gut. What’s more, these crackers are low in fat, and can be topped with gut-friendly options such as hummus and sauerkraut.
Fortnum & Masons
Fortnum’s Blackberry Preserve
This blackberry preserve is made from locally sourced berries from fresh hedgerow. Blackberries are particularly rich in polyphenols and studies show that gut bacteria like to feast on these polyphenols encouraging their growth.
Whilst Turkish delight is high in sugar (and super tasty), it is also fat-free, therefore may be easier to digest option for those who find high-fat foods trigger digestive issues.
Cocoa Golden Dust Almonds
If fat isn’t your issue but lack of fibre is, then these cacao almonds can be a tasty treat whilst boosting your intake. Fibre is key fo feeding our good gut bacteria to help it flourish and grow, but also supports digestive health.
House Blend Ground Coffee
If you’re struggling with sluggish bowel movements, then coffee may help to get things moving. Interestingly these effects may be caffeine-independent because caffeine-free coffee has shown to have similar effects as regular coffee. However, it’s important to note that coffee is a rich source of caffeine and our upper limit of intake is 400mg per day, which equates to just 4 small cups.
Olives Stuffed With Garlic
Garlic is a particularly rich source of prebiotics that promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Feeding our gut bacteria with prebiotic foods can be a fast track way of improving the composition of our gut microbiota, however if you regularly suffer from bloating and gas you may want to consume in moderation.
Marks and Spencer
Festive classic tea
Black tea contains polyphenols which can stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria within the gut. This tea has a delicious festive twist and can make a great winter warmer.
72% Cocao Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a rich source of plant chemicals called polyphenols which have prebiotic properties. Prebiotics are bits of food that can’t be digested but are instead fermented by our healthy gut bacteria stimulating their growth. When our friendly gut bacteria break down these polyphenols they produce metabolites which are thought to support gut health.
Whilst this may be music to our ears, it’s doesn’t mean we can eat as much chocolate as we want, chocolate is still high in sugar and fat, therefore moderation is key.
Festive Spice Tea
Spiced tea is the perfect winter warmer, and maybe more soothing on the gut in comparison to heavy hot chocolates, gingerbread and eggnog lattes and other festive drinks that may be on the market.
Waxed Cheddar Truckle
Whilst cheese is certainly not going to suit everyone when it comes to digestive health, certain aged, hard cheeses such as cheddar are particularly low in lactose which can be difficult to digest by some. Cheese is super tasty but it’s high fat content means that moderation is key.
A locally made popcorn, with totally natural flavourings. This popcorn can make a great option for those who are intolerant to gluten and still want to enjoy delicious ‘gluten-free’ snacks.
Olives Et Al Chipotle Smoky Chilli Nuts
Nuts can be a great option for those lacking fibre within their diet. The UK guidelines are set at 30g fibre per day, yet on average we are consuming just over half of this. A handful are not only a tasty snack but they can also boost fibre intake.
These nuts are covered in spices including black pepper, coriander and caraway, and interestingly culinary spices have prebiotic effects by inducing positive changes to the gut microbiota. However, it’s also important to note that nuts come with high-fat content, therefore moderation is key.
Red wine is made from polyphenol-rich grapes, which can feed good gut bacteria to help it flourish and grow. However, any beneficial effects on gut health will come with moderate consumption, therefore be mindful of overindulging.
The Selfridges Christmas hamper is the all-rounder for to gut-friendly products. This hamper provides the greatest array of options for those with sensitive stomachs. There are some gluten free and dairy free choices for those who struggle with intolerances. You also receive a selection of delicious cheeses such as cheddar and stilton which come with live bacteria and may support our gut microbiome.
The spiced tea is a delicious warming option for those who find coffee exacerbates gut symptoms. Lastly the rich content of polyphenols in the red wine may help to feed our healthy gut bacteria when consumed in moderation.
Overall the wide variety of food and drink in the Selfridges hamper make it a clear winner for those looking for a more gut friendly option.
For more gut-friendly Christmas recipes and to find out more about the Bowel & Cancer Research ‘Gifts For Your Gut’ campaign go to www.bowelcancerresearch.org