Optimal Digestion for the Holidays, Avoid Reflux and Bloating!
Most health bloggers on the Internet are going to blog about eating healthy during the holidays. What to eat, what not to eat, how to lose excess weight after the holidays, blah, blah, blah. I do not care what you eat during the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, New Year, Hanukkah are about eating special meals and spending time with our loved ones. Sometimes we need to take a break from all the over-analyzing we do to stay healthy. However, if you suffer from specific food allergies or medical conditions that require you to avoid different foods (celiac disease), I am not downplaying your issues. You should avoid ingesting food that will make you ill even during family holidays and special occasions. Do not take my above statement as carte blanche to eat foods that can make you extremely sick, but if you are healthy and are avoiding gluten because you are trying to be healthy if you slip up and eat some during the holiday’s do not get angry with yourself.
The following are general tips for those who are not suffering from food sensitives or gut issues to help combat some of the woes of holiday eating and improve digestion.
Tips for Healthy Digestion Around the Holidays
- Chew your food well. A lot of people forget about this crucial tip that well improve your digestion significantly. The longer we masticate our food and mix it with saliva the easier it will be to digest. You should follow this advice firmly if you are eating carbs since one of the main components of saliva is amylase that helps us break down carbs. Finally, the slower we eat, the less chance we will overeat, since our stomach has time to fill up and signal to our brain that we are full.
- If you are planning on eating a large meal, consider taking digestive enzymes or digestive bitters to try to facilitate proper digestion. If you are dealing with elevated stomach pH consider ingesting one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in with your vegetables (as long as you do not have histamine intolerance) or betaine HCL (if your meal is going to have fat and protein and as long as you are not suffering from silent reflux or have an ulcer) to help support your body digesting a large amount of holiday food. Salt your food as well; chloride is important for proper stomach acid production and taste (as long as you are not Th-17 dominant). DPP-IV can also be taken as a digestive enzyme to possible help with the breakdown and digestion of gluten peptides (the enzyme supplement with not help you if you are suffering from celiac disease, you still have to avoid gluten). Finally, proper bile production is important to help digest all the extra fat in the holiday meals.
- Take some activated charcoal a few hours after your meal. The charcoal might help absorb some of the questionable ingredients in the food you were consuming, reduce gas and bloating, and might help reduce the endotoxin load produced by the Gram-negative bacteria in the gut after they are helping to break down your questionable meal. Glutathione use may help reduce toxin load and help improve an overburdened liver’s from the large meal efficacy.
- Increase your omega 3 fatty acid intake (Atlantic sardines [Season brand], Atlantic tuna, Atlantic salmon, Atlantic cod, Atlantic flounder, Atlantic shrimp/scallops, Ultimate Omega softgels are all good choices) before and after the holidays to help offset the increased omega 6 intakes from your holiday meals.
- If you find yourself suffering from gastritis after the holiday meal, taking a couple of zinc carnosine capsules with a little food might help settle your stomach. If you end up having acid reflux, loosening your belt or pants, stand up and walk around for a few minutes, and taking a D-limonene softgel might help reduce your GERD. Sleeping on your left side at night might help prevent reflux. If your GERD is severe ingesting some plain milk of magnesia (one tablespoon) or baking soda (one teaspoon) mixed well in six ounces of filtered water might help bring you relief.
- Drink a little liquid with your meals but try not to ingest too much liquid (multiple beverages for example). Waterlogging your stomach can put excessive pressure on the LES and slow down digestion. If you are consuming water, tea, or any other liquid it should be room temperature to improve digestion. For most one cup of liquid with the meal and/or one cup of coffee or tea afterwards is enough. You want to fill your stomach up with delicious food, not liquid.
- Try to maintain proper motility during the holidays to help your digestive system combat the stress of having to break down extra food. Cayenne (sprinkle a little on your food) and ginger (drink freshly grated ginger tea thirty minutes after your meal) can help increase stomach emptying if you are feeling bloated in that region. I would slightly increase your magnesium intake during the holidays to try to speed up motility. Eating three meals daily during the holidays or fasting a meal or two before the big holiday meal might increase motility to help digestive the extra food. No snacking! Finally, make sure when it is time to use the bathroom that you sit on a Squatty potty to relieve your digestive system of excess pressure and distension when having a bowel movement.
- Exercising during the holidays, even walking thirty minutes a few hours after a meal, can help increase motility and lessen digestive issues.
- Do not lay down after eating your holiday meal, which will increase abdominal pressure which may lead to dyspepsia or reflux. If you must lay down or are sleepy, loosen your belt, try to rest in a reclining chair or couch, and lay on your back.
- Chewing a couple of pieces of healthy xylitol gum after your meals can help improve your digestion during the holidays. Chewing xylitol gum may help protect your oral microbiome and improve your oral health by increasing saliva which will help to neutralize acids that you ingested with your meal and reduce its enamel degradation effects. Chewing gum might also relieve reflux because saliva neutralizes stomach acid within the esophagus when swallowed.
I hope these tips help keep your digestion stable during the holidays. Happy holidays as always to you and your families from all of us here at Fix Your Gut.