Holiday Digestion

By: Suzanne Swearengen, DOM, AP

It is that time of year again, a wonderful time with much to be thankful for and celebrate. Along with the holiday season come the many temptations of tasty treats and delicious drinks. For many people, indulging in these delectables carries consequences such as indigestion or aggravating existing digestive conditions such as Peptic ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). It is possible to enjoy the holidays with some simple remedies and guidelines without depriving oneself.

A general rule of thumb is to avoid overindulgence. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing, no matter how good it tastes going down, you are sure to pay for it later. Make conscious choices about what you consume to maintain balance in your diet. For example: At the holiday gathering, enjoy a couple of cookies, but stay away from grandma's spicy meatballs. The cookies have sugar and fat, but the meatballs have salt, fat, and spices that aggravate the digestive system. In this scenario the meatballs are the bigger culprit.

Try to stay true to your normal eating habits when not at a function or party. Platters of goodies in the workplace are the most challenging because they are not normally in that environment. Avoid snacking on these, because you will not realize how much is consumed in a day or week. Keeping track of what you eat will help get you through the holidays without upsetting your stomach.Of course, there will be times when we are caught up in the festivities and indulge in holiday food and adult beverages. There are plenty of natural solutions for everything from the occasional upset stomach, to issues related to more chronic conditions such as IBS or GERD. For most any kind of digestive issue, Aloe Vera juice is beneficial. It soothes the digestive tract, relieves inflammation and moistens the intestines. One quarter to one half cup is recommended 2-3 times daily until symptoms are relieved. Ginger tea is another simple remedy for nausea, vomiting, or upset stomach. Sip 1-2 cups hot or cool tea, depending on preference. Peppermint is beneficial for indigestion, gas, and overeating. It is best if taken as a tea or an enteric-coated capsule to avoid irritating the esophageal lining. The homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica is effective for a variety of digestive problems. All of the above mentioned herbs and supplements are easily available at most grocery stores and health food stores.

For more specific ailments such as short- term constipation, increasing water intake along with one half cup of Aloe Vera juice twice daily will help move things through the digestive system. It is also helpful to snack on prunes and figs, as they are natural laxatives. Diarrhea responds well to Ginger or Chamomile tea as well as Slippery Elm Bark and Psyllium, due to their soothing and binding effects. Acid reflux and IBS both respond best to proper diet, but for acute symptoms Nux Vomica will help soothe the system.

For general well being, adding Aloe Vera juice, Flaxseed and Flaxseed oil to the diet will help keep things moving through the digestive tract properly. In addition, it is vital to include foods high in fiber, greens rich in chlorophyll such as Alfalfa and Green Barley juice, fruits or vegetables with pectin like papaya, apples, bananas, carrots and beets. This holiday season, try to limit consumption of alcohol, spicy, greasy, fatty and sugary foods to keep episodes of digestive discomfort at bay. Find substitutes for snacking such as popcorn, almonds, cashews, grapes, and berries. All of which are delicious and beneficial to the body. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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