The festive season is here once again, and it is such a wonderful time – a time to be with family and friends; have lots of fun, games and, of course, plenty of delicious food. The trouble is, give in to too many of the delicious temptations of Christmas and your digestive health could pay the price, so here are some tips on how to keep your digestive system healthy over the festive season.
Christmas and Your Digestive Health
From rich Christmas dinners to mince pies, chocolates and Christmas cake; from festive cheeses and pigs in blankets to mulled wine, eggnog and other Christmas tipples, the wonderful but invariably rich and plentiful fare offered wherever you happen to be at this time of year can really knock your digestive system about and your festive fun is consequently marred by bloating, constipation, heartburn and other, equally unpleasant and often painful, symptoms.
So, how do you avoid this kind of digestive misery? The secret is to indulge without over-indulging – in other words, enjoy your festive treats but take care not to “go over-board” with it all. The following tips should help you to maintain a healthy digestive system over the festive season…
Tips to Keep Your Digestive System Healthy Over the Festive Season – The Basics
- Delegate – Christmas can be quite stressful at times and, as we all know, stress can trigger all kinds of digestive problems. The first step towards keeping your digestive system happy throughout the festive period is therefore to take a deep breath and relax. Don’t run about like a mad hatter trying to do it all alone – make sure to delegate what you can t other members of your family and friends.
- Hydrate – Eating all this rich food can easily lead to bloating and constipation. Staying well hydrated by drinking 1 ½ to 2 litres of water per day will help prevent constipation by softening your stool and consequently allowing it to travel easier through your bowels for excretion. This in turn reduces bacterial fermentation within your bowels, which helps prevent production of excess gas and bloating.
- Exercise – Do try to get some exercise! No, we are not suggesting that you should rush out and join a gym today (although it may be a good thing to do in the New Year…) – all you need right now is enough exercise to stimulate your bowels’ muscles, which will help prevent both bloating and constipation.
A brisk walk can work wonders for both your body and mind and if you prefer to stay indoors, there are numerous Yoga positions perfect for aiding digestion that relieve both constipation and gas, and help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Tiredness – Being tired makes you feel unable to properly function, irritable and stressed out – which will, of course, wreak havoc with your digestive system.
Getting enough sleep is therefore vital and will not only reduce stress-related digestive issues but, as you are unlikely to eat or drink while sleeping, will also give your digestive organs a well-deserved opportunity to rest and recover.
What’s more, a nice, deep sleep will also allow your liver to “take time out and reboot” in readiness for the next round of party snacks and tipples.
Christmas and Your Digestive Health: Food and Drink
Nobody could possibly expect you to completely abstain from your favourite treats over Christmas, but there are a few food-related things you can do to prevent the festive season from turning into a digestive health nightmare.
The first of these things is to think ahead: One of the most common causes of “Christmas bloating” is overeating,
Think about your plans for the coming day or evening and eat accordingly to preserve your digestive health.
For instance, if you know that lunch is going to be rather big, prepare by having a balanced, healthy and light breakfast and avoidi pre-lunch snacks.
More importantly, however, never give into the temptation to “skip meals” to “leave room” for a bigger meal. Doing so will merely result in your blood sugar levels plummeting and leaving your body without fuel to properly function.
This will not only make you feel too tired to enjoy yourself but, as your body cries out for energy, it will also increase your likelihood of reaching for sugary treats before you make it to the table – which brings us neatly to the next point: being mindful about how many sugary nibbles and snacks you eat.
Avoiding sugary treats altogether is incredibly difficult at this time of year, but the fact is that “bad gut bacteria” feeds on sugar and overindulging in these treats will send bacterial fermentation in your gut into overdrive –leaving you feeling bloated.
The best way to prevent this without missing out is to have little sweet tasters and then switch to healthier nibbles like nuts, pumpkin seeds or olives.
Packed with nutrients and antioxidants that will help you keep fit and well over the festive season, fruits and veggies also have plenty of fibre, which absorbs water, adds bulk to your stools and keeps waste matter both heavier and softer – which, of course, helps prevent constipation.
Last, but by no means least importantly, do give your poor liver a thought. Your body’s most overworked organ, your liver is, among many other functions, responsible for processing all the food and drinks you put into your body.
When these substances leave your small intestine and enter your bloodstream, it is the liver’s job to decide whether they should be allowed to pass, be broken down or stored. A major effort at the best of times, this means your liver must work overtime throughout the festive season.
It is therefore a good idea to give it the occasional “day off” by eating healthy meals, completely avoiding alcohol and curing hangovers by drinking lots of water and getting plenty of fresh air, rather than adding to your liver’s burden by taking paracetamol.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Finally, do enjoy yourself without worrying excessively over every tiny morsel passing your lips or even second helpings of Christmas pudding! Your long-term health is affected by your regular eating habits, not the occasional over-indulgence – and if you have over-done it a little, silicolgel may help you get effective relief from any unpleasant digestive symptoms.
Have you left it too late to order some online? Don’t worry – you can buy it from stockists all over the UK.