5 Digestive Support Tips to Reduce the “Stuffed Turkey” Feeling after the Holidays
As the holidays and the end of the year begin to dawn on us, we start the celebrations with family, friends and over-indulgence. Why is it that every holiday we celebrate the fact that we can over-eat and over- drink? Did you know that overeating could affect our digestive processes? This will cause low stomach acid and enzyme output, indigestion, constipation and overall improper digestion of food that will lead to more serious health issues. But don’t worry! We will cover your bases to make sure your holidays are full of fun, laughter and great digestion!
To start off, let’s look at how our digestive system works when it is properly functioning. Some argue digestion begins when we start to physically chew food, but others believe digestion begins when the thought of eating triggers salivation or during cooking, the smells cause salivation. I tend to agree with the later point since there are enzymes that are begin secreted in the saliva!
Esophagus: The food travels down the esophagus into the stomach
Mouth: Saliva and enzymes begin the breakdown of carbohydrates
Stomach: Hydrochloric acid, pepsin and other enzymes breakdown protein. The digested food in the stomach turns into chyme, which has a low pH, this means it is extremely acidic.
Pancreas: Releases bicarbonate into the small intestine when the acidic chyme is released, along with enzymes to further breakdown carbohydrates
Liver/ Gallbladder: Release enzymes to emulsify fats to smaller globules
Small Intestines: Help with extraction of nutrients for the body
Large Intestines: What ever is left over is bulked for excretion via feces
Here are a few rules to follow to ensure proper digestion.
- 1. To start off the morning of the holiday meals, drink at least 1 glass of warm water and freshly juiced lemon. This actually should be done everyday to rejuvenate the body and prepare the digestive system. If you have never done it before, today would be a great time to start.
- 2. Before each meal, consuming fermented foods is ideal, especially before a big meal. Fermented foods like kimchi, krauts, and tempeh offer good sources of probiotics and enzymes. Probiotics help the body breakdown food, extract nutrients and produce a few vitamins. In the process of fermentation, enzymes are created, and these enzymes will support digestion by aiding in the breakdown processes.
- 3. Supplementing enzymes during larger meals will help reduce the stress being put on the stomach and digestive system. I would not recommend supplementing enzymes everyday, unless you are working with a practitioner or a part of your digestive process is impaired, like the gallbladder being removed. When choosing a digestive enzyme, it is important that the supplement contains amylase, protease, hydrochloric acid, lipase OR ox bile. These enzymes will help you cover all aspects for the proper digestion of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. It is important to follow the dosage on the label OR talk to your local Nature’s Source/ Signature for dosage recommendations if you are unsure.
- 4. Mindful eating is most often overlooked when it comes to eating and digesting. What is mindful eating? It is listening to your bodies hunger cues and honouring what your body wants and needs. This can also be called intuitive eating. Listening to your body when it is telling you “Hey there, I’m starting to get full. It is time to slow down!” Unfortunately, since we live in a time where we as humans are overfed and overindulge, most people don’t listen to their body when it is telling them they are full, or they simply don’t realize they are full until they become uncomfortably full. (That’s when the top button of those skinny jeans or pants come undone). It is also important to slow down and chew your food. It sounds silly because how else can we eat if we don’t chew our food? If you really think of it are you really chewing your food? Food should be in a liquid state by the time we swallow it. This is so important since large food molecules make it harder for the stomach and hydrochloric acid/ enzymes to properly break it down.
- 5. Another extremely important point for optimal digestion is avoid drinking before, during and after meals. Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drink at all. This only means to avoid a lot of liquids before and after meals. Hydrochloric acid can become diluted which leads to poor digestion. Rule of thumb is do not consume liquids for at least 15 minutes before and after meals. Liquids during meals should also be avoid unless necessary since it will also affect digestion. Beverages should never be cold either. Digestive enzymes will become slower therefore preventing proper digestion.
Now keep in mind that these rules should be followed not only during the holidays but everyday. Incorporating these digestive practices everyday can help with optimal break down of food which will lead to better nourishment for the body!