By Jeff Hills
The holidays are a time for gathering with friends and family, a time for parties, punches, platters and presents. It's also a time for shrinking bank accounts and expanding waist lines. It's a time to stress-out too much and pig-out even more.
When you're stressed, digestion can shut down because your central nervous system can reduce blood flow to digestive organs. Stress can trigger contractions of your digestive muscles, making your colon or your esophagus to spasm. Stress can make your stomach produce more acid and decrease the enzyme secretions needed for digestion.
The way we eat during the holidays only compounds the problem. We eat too much. We eat the wrong things. We eat while standing and schmoozing and drinking adult libations. We eat because we're stressed, then we stress-out over the fact that we're eating too much of the wrong things. To top it all off, like the star that crowns a Christmas tree, the sugary foods we consume and the large quantities we consume them in causes stress to our bodies. Gas, bloating and indigestion is the present no one wants, but like a re-gifted fruitcake, many of us will receive this time of year.
So what can we do? Besides not stress over Christmas and skip every party. It wouldn't hurt to be cognizant of what you are putting in your mouth. Hopefully, you are more disciplined that I have been this year. But if you simply must eat that tree-shaped cookie with the red and green sugar sprinkles and must wash it down with some egg nog, I have some recommendations.
Digestive enzyme supplements can be taken for indigestion. Stress can reduce the production of enzymes, which your digestive system secretes in response to the food you eat. Other factors, including aging, can reduce the secretion of enzymes too. Take one dose before or during a meal, or a party-time cookie binge, and it'll aid in efficiently digesting your food. It can be a nice addition or alternative to popping acid blocking pills since it will help move food along the digestive tract a bit faster, making it less likely aggravate acid reflux. Use them whenever you eat if necessary.
NHIondemand, a supplement industry web resource says "Deglycyrrhizinated (DGL) licorice has demulcent activity, having the ability to protect irritated mucous membranes. In cases where the intestinal lining is inflamed, DGL licorice reportedly stimulates the production of mucus, and is used to reduce symptoms." It's the go-to herbal supplement for ulcers. Chew as necessary.
The average person passes gas 14 to 24 times a day. On a good day! If you are suffering from excessive gas and bloating, there are several supplements you can take to reduce your symptoms. Enterically-coated peppermint oil is safe and effective for halting occasional bouts of bloating and flatulence. It is also great for addressing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. It has been shown to reduce the pain associated with IBS and reduces the frequency and strength of spasms. Take it between meals, two or three times a day.
Activated charcoal is another effective supplement for gas and bloating. According to WebMD, "Activated charcoal is used to treat poisonings, reduce intestinal gas (flatulence), lower cholesterol levels, prevent hangover, and treat bile flow problems." It is charcoal treated to make it incredibly absorbent. While it works like a charm to absorb gas before it becomes a social liability, it must be used with caution if you take medications, it could absorb those too. One capsule twice a day, after meals.
I watch what I eat (nutrition is my job!), but I'm still eating things I usually don't, more than I usually do, and more often. And it's early December! The Holiday Season stretches to at least New Years Day and may include several college Bowl games, the NFL playoffs, and the Super Bowl! If you too are over-indulging, these supplements can make the next month or so more comfortable for you and your family.