During the holidays, your digestive system puts on warrior gear to shield against bread pudding, salted caramels, egg nog, stuffing and gravy. And while a little bit of holiday indulgence isn’t a cause for intestinal war, your digestive system may show signs of feeling attacked- often in the form of bloating.
Many holiday treats are made from dairy, wheat and refined sugar which can create stress on your liver, inflammation in your digestive tract and slow down digestion in general. And when digestion is backed up, you’re more likely to experience the dreaded bloating and flatulence.
During holiday celebrations you may also eat increased amounts of animal protein and saturated fat. These macronutrients take longer for your body to break down and can lead to an intestinal traffic jam when combined with other meals. The refined sugar found in holiday baking and chocolate also depletes the good bacteria in your digestive tract, which can impair your ability to properly digest food and create toxic build up.
But let’s get one thing straight: the holidays wouldn’t be the same without enjoying some of Granny’s baking or Dad’s signature turkey gravy. Life is all about balance, so it’s perfectly fine to indulge a little bit on special occasions without guilt. However, it’s also important to support your digestive system at the same time so it can continue to digest, absorb and eliminate the food you’re eating without interruption.
Here are four ways to avoid bloating during the holidays, and keep your digestion running smoothly and efficiently into the new year.
Take a Probiotic Capsule to Increase Your Friendly Bacteria We all have a balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut- in fact, we need both to survive. But bad bacteria can quickly overpopulate the good bacteria with consistent antibiotic use, alcohol consumption, stress and a diet high in refined sugar. When bad bacteria begins to overpopulate your gut, your body notifies you with digestive symptoms such as bloating, flatulence and the inability to properly digest and absorb the food you eat. An overgrowth of bad bacteria can also lead to more serious conditions down the road, such as candida and leaky gut. To keep the good bacteria flourishing in your gut, you can take a probiotic capsule each day. When taken regularly, probiotics can act as an insurance policy for the health of your digestive system. If you’re looking for a recommendation, we love Flora Vegetarian Probiotic capsules.
Eat Animal Protein at The End of The Night (A Tip For Non-Vegans) As previously mentioned, animal protein and fats are the slowest foods to digest in comparison to fruit, veggies, plant-based protein, and complex carbs. When eaten earlier in the day, animal protein and fat has the ability to slow your digestion and create the bloated, sluggish feeling that stems from your intestinal tract. To avoid this, try to eat animal protein at the end of the day so it has plenty of time to digest while you sleep and won’t halt the digestion of your other meals eaten during the day.
Drink Cold Bevies Away From Meals To efficiently digest and absorb the food you eat, your body produces digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes are automatically released in your mouth and stomach when you begin to chew, and even before food enters your mouth through your saliva. When you drink ice cold beverages with meals you can “freeze” the digestive enzymes, so to speak. When the digestive enzymes aren’t active, the food you’re eating will simply sit there until your body can process it. As you can guess, this mechanism leads to bloating. Replace ice cold beverages with small sips of room temperature water with your meals to avoid this from happening. You can also add fresh squeezed lemon or lime for extra enzymes and a digestive boost.
Start Each Morning Off with a Veggie Based Green Smoothie Speaking of enzymes, there’s no better way to avoid bloating (and easily increase your nutrient intake) by incorporating a raw green smoothie into your morning routine. A green smoothie is best absorbed on an empty stomach, sipped 20 minutes before eating anything else. Since raw fruits and veggies are living foods, they contain an abundance of plant-based enzymes that aid in digestion. Fruits and veggies also like to digest quickly, which is why they are best consumed on an empty stomach without being mixed with anything else. There’s no better way to start off a new year than by improving the health of your gut. Your cells will thank you for making dietary improvements, and you’ll reap the health rewards by starting 2016 feeling like a new, healthier version of yourself!