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Digestive Health Tips for the Holidays

Digestive Health Tips for the Holidays

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The holiday season brings joy, togetherness, and an abundance of delicious food. While indulging in festive treats is a cherished tradition, it can sometimes lead to digestive discomfort. However, with a few mindful practices and the right supplements, you can support your digestive system and fully enjoy mealtime during the holidays.

Lifestyle Tips for Digestive Support

Eat Mindfully

During holiday gatherings, it’s easy to get carried away and eat quickly. However, mindful eating can make a significant difference in digestion. Remember to chew your food slowly and savor every bite. This not only aids digestion but allows your brain to recognize when you’re full, preventing overeating.

Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration is essential for healthy digestion. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially before and after meals or between alcoholic beverages. Herbal teas, warm water with lemon, or infused water with fresh fruits and herbs can add variety to your hydration routine.

Include Fiber-Rich Foods

Fiber aids in digestion by promoting regular bowel movements and helps the body have a healthier blood sugar response after meals [1]. Examples of fiber-rich foods include leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, berries, apples, quinoa, and legumes. These foods add bulk to your stool, prevent constipation, and promote healthy gut flora.

Balance Plate Method infographic

Pro-tip: follow the Balanced-Plate Method of filling half of your plate with fiber-rich foods, a fourth with a protein, and the last fourth with grains and starches to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of fiber and other major food groups.

Limit Trigger Foods

Identify foods that trigger discomfort, such as fried or spicy dishes, and consume them in moderation. Opt for lighter options whenever possible and balance indulgent treats with nutrient-dense foods.

Pay Attention to Your Body’s Cues of Fullness

The sensations in your stomach and abdomen help you know when you’re full, yet most of us are never taught to mind our stomach’s cues. You can begin to practice listening to your stomach by using the following tips:

  • Midway through your meal pause and focus on the sensation in your stomach and abdomen… are you feeling any sensations of fullness, tension or even discomfort? If so, these are your clues to push your plate away and be done for this meal. Remind yourself that more meals are to come and if you enjoyed that food, you can have more of it at your next meal.
  • If you’re still hungry, continue to eat and pause again after a few more bites.
  • Focus on paying attention to the sensations in your stomach rather than just focusing on the desire for the delicious taste of the food. Then heed your stomach’s cues.

Couple walking a dog

Walk After a Meal

It’s so easy to want to lie down after a big delicious meal but encourage yourself and your loved ones to go for a stroll after mealtime. Walking, specifically after eating, helps reduce the risk of gas and heartburn, assists with blood sugar control [2], and provides a refreshing break for both mental and physical health.

Supplements for Digestive Support

In addition to following these recommendations, certain supplements can provide extra support to your digestive system during the holiday season.

Various supplement capsule on a counter

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are essential catalysts that assist in breaking down foods in the body and ensure optimal nutrient absorption. Amylase, protease, lactase, and lipase are key enzymes that target specific food components. Taking digestive enzyme supplements before meals can help alleviate bloating and discomfort and aid in nutrient absorption so you can enjoy your favorite holiday treats without worry [3].

Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy gut. Probiotic supplements maintain the balance of gut flora, normalize bowel habits and stool consistency, reduce the discomfort associated with certain food intolerances, and support the immune system [4]. Some strains that have been well-studied for their benefits include Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1, Bifidobacterium longum, and Saccharomyces boulardii [4].

Mastic Gum

Mastic gum, a natural resin source from the Pistacia lentiscus or Chios trees in Greece, offers a myriad of benefits for digestive health. Renowned for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, mastic gum aids in soothing gastrointestinal discomfort, reducing acid reflux, and promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria [5].

Ox Bile

Ox bile supplements offer vital support for digestive health. Rich in enzymes, ox bile aids in breaking down fats, enhancing nutrient absorption, and preventing digestive discomfort [6]. By promoting efficient digestion, ox bile supplements contribute to reduced bloating and improved overall gut health.

Ginger

Ginger supplements and ginger tea offer remarkable benefits for digestive health. Gingerol, one of the main active compounds in ginger, possesses potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties [7]. Ginger supplements or ginger tea is an excellent choice after a heavy meal as it can soothe the digestive tract, and relieve indigestion and nausea [7].

Herbal Liver Support: Milk Thistle, Phyllanthus, Dandelion

The liver is the main metabolic processing organ in the body, it produces bile for fat breakdown, and provides support for phase II detoxification to allow for the safe elimination of toxins. Three important herbs that help optimize liver function include milk thistle seed, phyllanthus leaf, and dandelion root. Together, they form a potent blend that not only supports liver function and a healthy lipid profile, but also ensures a balanced and efficient digestive system.

The Bottom Line

This holiday season, prioritize your digestive health by embracing mindful eating practices and incorporating supplements that support your gut health. By nourishing your body and being mindful of what you consume, you can savor every moment of the holidays without the discomfort of digestive issues.

References

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The information provided is for educational purposes only. Consult your physician or healthcare provider if you have specific questions before instituting any changes in your daily lifestyle including changes in diet, exercise, and supplement use.

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