Indigestion is a common problem over Christmas. Not surprising, given that we wolf down an estimated 950 calories and 48g of fat in one sitting. Add this to the inevitable lack of physical activity over the festive period, and such over-indulgence is bound to result in the likes of bloating, heartburn, indigestion and nausea.
How to stop indigestion before it starts
“Christmas dinner is meant to be a social affair for all the family, so don’t gulp your meal down and make time for conversation,” says Alison Wyndham, a complementary health practitioner and owner of the Wyndham Centres.
The reason? “If you eat slowly and chew your food, you will feel more satiated and less likely to go for seconds. Digestion starts in your mouth so give the digestive process a chance to start,” she adds. Stay seated for at least 20 minutes after eating, too, as sitting helps to relax your digestion system, preventing bloating and excess gas.
Other tips include:
- Waiting before you reach for a second helping
- Go for a walk after lunch
- Eating early to avoid going to bed on a full stomach
- Avoid fizzy drinks which produce intestinal gas
Similarly to fizzy drinks, eating too many beans, legumes, cabbage, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, onions and artichokes can all encourage the production of intestinal gas and cause bloating. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid these tasty veggies, which are a good source of fibre and micronutrients – just limit your intake.
Natural remedies for indigestion
If indigestion, bloating, trapped wind, constipation or the other symptoms do strike post-Christmas dinner, fret not. There are a variety of natural remedies, including supplements and traditional herbal medicines that can help:
“In a healthy colon, there are billions of beneficial bacteria which can help to keep the proper pH of the colon and therefore prevent any ‘bad’ bacteria from over growing,” explains Alison.
“These ‘friendly’ bacteria are also important because, not only can they help keep the immune system healthy, they also synthesize many important vitamins in the digestive tract, including Vitamin K and some of the B vitamins. However, sugar and processed foods can increase the fungus in your gut so a good probiotic is essential at this time of overindulgence,” Alison says.
“This traditional herbal medicine is a great supplement for helping the liver to detox and regenerate,” says Alison. “Milk thistle is also used to relieve the symptoms associated with over indulgence of food and drink, so at a time when we know we’ll eat and drink more than usual, it’s worth taking,” she says.
Ginger and artichoke
These two natural remedies can also help with indigestion. Ginger can help to treat stomach upsets, while artichoke can help to ease bloating. Like milk thistle, artichoke can also be used to help protect the liver from the harmful effects of alcohol. Alison also recommends that for every glass of wine you drink you have a glass of water first. “Our bodies are 70 per cent water so it is important to drink enough or you will compromise your body and your health,” she says.