Home> Holiday Digestion
by Dave Foreman
All that special holiday food often causes even the healthiest eaters to overindulge causing heartburn, reflux, indigestion and bloating. Perhaps you are eating too much protein, or combining the wrong foods. Your solutions could be as simple as a few natural supplements. Indigestion can mean either gas and bloating, or upset stomach. Heartburn, on the other hand, is usually a burning feeling that is caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus and causing pain and discomfort.
The overeating of the holiday can even turn those with a "cast iron" stomach into miserable people. Before we get into the supplements that may assist in your relief, we need to cover a few other issues that may contribute to your condition. First of all, try to maintain a balanced diet – carbohydrates, protein and fat. Avoid drugs that may exacerbate your condition like aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Avoiding alcohol and caffeine at the holidays,may be difficult for many, but this may be all you need to do. Lastly, try to decrease stress. This may be the most difficult thing to do around the holidays, but decreasing stress will have a huge impact on your digestive health. All of these ideas are easier said than done this time of year but nevertheless, helpful reminders.
For assisting the body in being able to break down the foods you have just consumed, I recommend using a digestive enzyme. Combination products that contain protease (digests proteins), amylase (digests starches), lipase (digests fats) and even lactase (breaks down lactose) are the best. I useMulti Enzyme (The Vitamin Shoppe) but others like Digest Gold (Enzymedica), Advanced Digestive Formula (The Vitamin Shoppe's M.D. Select) and Digest More (Renew Life) are excellent products too. I recommend that you take your digestive enzyme supplement right before or during your meal. If in an hour or so you are still feeling too full or bloated, repeating the dose can be helpful. Another great supplement approach is to support the body's natural digestive function. I like to use artichoke, dandelion or other bitter herbs. You can even find Bitters (digestive bitters) that are combination formulas designed with this in mind. Gallaxier (Flora) and Bitters with Ginger (Nature's Answer) are great examples.
For those who need more immediate relief, Mother Nature offers a few other alternatives. Something as simple as peppermint can provide you immediate relief from issues with gas, cramping and indigestion. Why do you think that most restaurants have mints at the counter when you leave? They don't want you to remember how bad you felt after overeating at their establishment. I find that a cup of Ginger tea (or capsules) is great for relieving the discomfort of your digestive woes as well. Ginger has many digestive support properties such as decreasing inflammation, assisting with nausea, relieving gas and supporting digestion. The final supplement to provide immediate relief would be DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice). This form of licorice has been altered to remove the component glycyrrhizin which has been associated with increased blood pressure and fluid retention. DGL is great for immediate relief of heartburn and indigestion.
The bottom line in addressing holiday indigestion is usually lifestyle. Avoid the things that contribute to this condition and you should be fine. But, for those cases when overindulgence is unavoidable, you now have a few things to add to your holiday "herbal" medicine cabinet to get you through the season.