Boost your gut health and avoid stomach upset this holiday season
It’s that time of year again. The holiday turkey, the nibbles, the chestnuts roasting on an open fire…and oh-so-many triggers that can upset your stomach.
During holiday time, many of us will enjoy delicious large meals with friends and family. But soon after the feast, we find ourselves in agony with pain from indigestion.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Some 60 million Americans will be suffering upset stomachs with you this season, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.
With holiday meals full of favorite foods comes the strong temptation to overindulge. Who wants to think about a healthy gut when there’s a big meal and scrumptious desserts right in front of you?
But it’s important to take care of your digestive system this holiday season, no matter how tempting the spread looks. Gut health affects your immune system, mental health and overall health, so there’s a lot riding on your food and drink choices.
That doesn’t have to mean skipping all your favorite comfort foods at holiday parties, though. Let’s take a look at some tips to handle holiday meals without upsetting your stomach, and what to do if you experience indigestion.
Why do holiday meals cause indigestion
Holiday meals are the perfect storm for digestive upset. Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts are often laden with high fat and sugar foods that cause indigestion for many people. Freely flowing alcohol and caffeine make the problem worse.
The sheer quantity of food at a holiday gathering can be a problem. When you overeat, the combination of food, drinks and swallowed air causes your stomach, muscles and intestines to stretch out. This causes the discomfort and pain of indigestion.
If your post-holiday-meal ritual includes kicking back in a recliner or sprawling out on the sofa, you’re setting yourself up to feel worse. When you’re vertical, gravity helps keep stomach acid down where it belongs. When you lie down with a full stomach, the digestive process is disrupted. Acid gets pushes into the esophagus, creating pressure and discomfort.
Symptoms of indigestion
After you’ve eaten too much, indigestion symptoms include:
- Feeling bloated
- Abdominal pain
- Stomach pain
- Chest pain
- Gurgling or growling stomach
Heartburn and acid reflux can occur along with indigestion, but are actually separate problems.
Symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux
Heartburn and acid reflux are often used interchangeably, but heartburn is actually just one symptom of acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Heartburn feels like a pain or burning feeling deep in the chest, which happens when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus.
Other symptoms of acid reflux include:
- Regurgitation of acid into the throat
- Upset stomach
- Nausea after eating
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
How to relieve holiday indigestion
The best way to avoid indigestion at the holidays—and throughout the year—is to adjust your eating habits. Watch your portion sizes and limit foods that trigger indigestion and heartburn.
Common trigger foods are spicy or fatty foods, alcohol, chocolate, citrus, onions and caffeine. Since each person’s body is different, you may notice other foods that trigger your symptoms.
When you first start to notice symptoms of digestive trouble after eating, the first thing to do is…nothing. That’s right. Stop eating or drinking anything for a little while, not even water. It might seem tempting to drink water to move food through your system, but adding more liquid to your body once you feel overstuffed will only make you feel worse.
You may opt to change out of tight or restrictive clothing to help you relax, which helps digestive function.
Stay upright, keeping your head higher than your stomach. This keeps pressure off the stomach so stomach acid stays down instead of being forced back up into the esophagus, known as acid reflux.
Once your stomach starts to feel slightly better, try sipping on a warm liquid like peppermint tea. The warmth soothes your digestive system and the peppermint helps relax the esophagus so you can burp up trapped air.
After about 15 minutes, try moving around or going outside for a walk and some fresh air. This physical activity helps stimulate your digestion to move food through your body.
You’ll usually feel better after overeating within a few hours, because the food you’ve eaten has moved through your digestive tract.
If time and repositioning your body aren’t bringing relief, there are safe, natural remedies to support gut health. These solutions are great alternatives to over-the-counter acid digestion medicines like Pepto-Bismol, Maalox, Mylanta and Gas-X, which can have unpleasant side effects.
Natural Supplements for Digestive Health
People looking for natural support for gut health have options, including homeopathic medicines and herbal remedies for digestive function. Here are some of our favorite natural remedies for overeating and indigestion:
Gastronic Dr. ™ Veggie Caps is an herbal supplement that can help restore comfort after meals. It supports healthy digestive system function and balance, absorption of nutrients and healthy levels of digestive acids in the stomach.
Natural Moves™ for Bowel Regularity is an herbal formula that supports healthy digestion and bowel movements, especially related to constipation. It supports the body’s regular toxin and waste removal processes, liver health and peristaltic movement through the digestive tract.
Acid Free-Flux™ is a homeopathic medicine for symptoms of acid reflux and indigestion. It temporarily relieves heartburn and discomfort, soothing the lining of the stomach and esophagus.
Detox Drops™ is an herbal supplement for healthy liver functioning and toxin release. It gives cleansing support to the body’s ability to remove waste by-products and toxins, supports health liver functioning and systemic cleansing.
If you experience indigestion frequently, not just around the holidays, there may be a larger health problem. Call your health care provider and schedule a physical exam. Diagnostic tests like blood tests or an upper endoscopy can help your doctor figure out what’s going on.
The holidays can be a wonderful time of year to reconnect and celebrate with loved ones over shared meals. It’s natural to overindulge once in a while. When that happens, refer to the tips above to start feeling better fast.
In case you missed it check out our September Native Remedies blog about Immune Support
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