How to Get Your Digestive Health Back on Track After the Holidays
Our stomachs endure a lot during the festive period, as we consume large portions of thanksgiving and Christmas dishes and many of them are high in sugar and fat (Web MD, 2011). Fatty foods are a cause for concern when it comes to your digestion; eating too much can slow down your digestive process and cause acid reflux (Web MD, 2011). Late night snacking while watching your favorite Christmas movies can cause indigestion when you go to bed (Web MD, 2009), and indulging in too many Christmas chocolates can stimulate cramps, and cause bloating or diarrhea (Health, 2013).
Stress is another major factor at Christmas. From the panic of trying to find that last minute Christmas gift, to ensuring the house is tidy for your guests, there are many contributing factors to increased stress levels over the festive season. All this stress factors can cause negative effects on your digestion.
Now that the festivities are behind us, it’s important to get your digestive tract back on track for a new year and a new you. Digestive Advantage® Probiotic Supplements help to support digestive health as they add good bacteria to your intestines, and may help to lessen some digestive problems*. The below post-holiday recovery guide outlines other ways you can help your digestion get back on track.
1. Healthy diet
Managing your diet is perhaps the most obvious way to keep your digestive system healthy this new year. Take advantage of that new diary you received at Christmas and keep a food plan to find out what ‘trigger foods’ have been the source of any digestive discomfort you’ve experienced. Common trigger foods include dairy, and acidic and processed foods (Everyday Health, 2017).
Consume a fiber-rich diet including insoluble and soluble fiber. High fiber foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and beans (Web MD, 2016) Not only will these plant-based foods help fill you up, but they will also help keep your bowel movements regular. Ensure you drink plenty of water; fiber can soak up the water you consume, so staying hydrated will help you to avoid any cramping or gas (Web MD, 2016).
Ditch the takeouts this January in order to avoid excessively spicy foods and limit your fat intake. Spicy cuisine can irritate the esophagus and lead to heartburn (Health, 2013), and high fat and fried foods found in most takeaways can be overwhelming for your stomach. The body can only handle so much at one time, causing digestive issues such as acid reflux and heartburn (Health, 2013).
Maintain a mealtime routine and aim to sit down for your main meals of the day; breakfast, lunch and dinner (Everyday Health, 2017). The posture you adopt whilst eating can influence your ability to digest food. Food empties from the stomach more slowly when a person is sitting, compared to when standing. When you stand and eat food, it may lead to overeating and also, eating on the go, may lead to you feeling hungrier after a meal (Health Line, 2017).
Chewing your food thoroughly is the first essential step of digestion, as it makes it easier for your digestive system to do its job (Web MD, 2016). Food needs to be small enough for the gastric juices in the stomach to further degrade it and reduce in size. This allows the nutrients and fluids to be absorbed into your gastrointestinal tract (Web MD, 2005).
2. Skip the bad habits
Now that the party season has died down, why not try and go a month without drinking any alcohol? Alcohol can lead to acid reflux or heartburn due to the relaxation of your esophageal sphincter (Health, 2013). The lower esophageal sphincter is a bundle of muscles at the lower end of the esophagus, where it meets the stomach. When this fails to close completely, it allows acidic stomach contents to back up in to the esophagus causing heartburn (Web MD, 2016).
If you’re a smoker, consider cutting down or quitting as your new year’s resolution. Cigarettes can interfere with the functioning of your digestive system, which may cause problems such as stomach ulcers and heartburn (Everyday Health, 2017).
You may want to try swapping your morning coffee for green tea. Heartburn is the most frequently reported symptom after drinking coffee. It promotes gastroesophageal reflux and stimulates gallbladder contraction and colonic motor activity (NCBI, undated). Gastroesophageal Reflux is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter. This is the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach (Web MD, 2017).
Green tea is made from unoxidized leaves and is one of the less processed types of tea and therefore contains the most antioxidants and beneficial polyphenols (Medical News Today, 2017). Polyphenols are micronutrients and its thought that they can improve or help treat digestion issues, weight management difficulties, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (Health Line, 2017).
3. Regular exercise
There are many health benefits of regular exercise, from improving your mood, helping you to maintain a healthy weight and increasing your energy levels. Regular exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness, yet decrease blood pressure and blood fat levels (Health Line, 2017).
Being overweight can make people more likely to have digestive problems. It can increase the chances of having gallstones, create liver problems and increase the likelihood of getting gastroesophageal reflux disease. This can cause heartburn, ulcers and damage to your esophagus (Web MD, undated).
To reap the benefits of exercise, try to get more active throughout your day; small changes can make a big difference. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or ride your bike to work instead of getting in your car. It’s important to participate in around 30 minutes of low intensity exercise per day for a healthy lifestyle (Mayo, 2016).
4. Manage your stress levels
Your digestive tract is incredibly sensitive. Stress can upset a healthy digestive system and make many digestive diseases worse (Everyday Health, undated). Stress can be the reason for diarrhea or constipation, and can cause your mill to shut down, making you feel nauseous (Everyday Health, undated).
A certain amount of stress in unavoidable, however there are certain techniques you can try to manage your stress levels. Talking to friends or family about why you’re feeling stressed can help you identify the cause behind the stress, what the triggers are and how you can eliminate these. Other relaxation techniques include yoga, meditation and listening to calming music (Everyday Health, undated). If you find you are experiencing persistently high levels of stress, consult your doctor to explore other treatment methods.
5. Consider the role of probiotics
Probiotics are great for your digestive system. They can help balance your ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria to keep your body working like it should (Web MD, 2017). To help promote long-term digestive and immune health, why not try the Digestive Advantage® Fast Acting Enzymes + Daily Probiotic capsules? Their natural protein shells protect the probiotics within, so that they can survive the acid in your stomach. It’s this unique feature that with continued use makes Digestive Advantage®, scientifically proven to reduce abdominal discomfort and bloating within two weeks*.
Everyday Health (2017) 11 foods to avoid when you’re having digestive problems
Everyday Health (Undated) How stress affects digestion
Everyday Health (2017) Tips for better digestive health
Health (2013) 14 best and worst foods for digestion
Health Line (2017) Is eating while standing up bad for you?
Health Line (2017) The top 10 benefits of regular exercise
Health Line (20170 Top foods with polyphenols
Medical News Today (2017) Green tea: health benefits, side effects and research
NCBI (undated) Coffee and gastrointestinal function
Web MD (2005) Crunch! Chew your way to healthier eating
Web MD (2009) Diet truth or myth: Eating at night causes weight gain
Web MD (2016) 9 tips for smooth digestion
Web MD (2017) Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Web MD (undated) Health problems associated with adult obesity
Web MD (2016) The Esophagus
Web MD (2017) What are probiotics?
Web MD (2011) Winter holidays, upset stomachs