By Melody Khorrami, PharmD, RPh
As the holidays approach, many of us look forward to gathering with family and friends to celebrate and enjoy delicious meals. We are eager to feast on seasonal treats like turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and rolls; not to mention all the desserts! While all this food and company is wonderful, it can be overwhelming to our digestive systems. Fear not! There are steps you can take to help ease the digestive process. This is supposed to be a fun day and you shouldn’t feel any stress or shame about indulging and enjoying the festivities!
Starting your morning off with fiber-rich foods can help keep your bowels moving regularly and feed the good bacteria in your gut to help keep your microbiome healthy. Having regular bowel movements is important in eliminating toxins, keeping your hormones balanced, and reducing constipation. The last thing you want is to be constipated on the holidays, right before enjoying your meal. Fiber is naturally found in most fruits and vegetables. So, make sure to include a variety of these in your meals!
Drinking enough filtered water throughout the day is an important step in preventing dehydration, keeping your bowels moving, and digestion. According to studies inadequate hydration has also been linked to elevated BMI and obesity. Starting your morning with a glass of filtered water or lemon water upon waking is one of the best things you can do you start your day. This is because your body is in a fasted state while sleeping and can be dehydrated upon waking. Lemon water can help with digestion by increasing the production of HCL, also known as hydrochloric acid. Our stomach secretions are made up ofhydrochloric acid, and digestive enzymes that help us digest and absorb nutrients such as proteins in our foods.
Need I say more? Finding the right movement for your body is important to many aspects of your overall health and wellness. Improved digestion is just one! Take a walk the morning of your dinner plans and perhaps a second one with family and friends about 15 minutes after eating
Daily walking can help reduce bloating, aid in digestion, and help balance your blood sugar after a meal. Incorporating movement such as yoga not only can be beneficial for mental health but can also help with constipation, insomnia and healthy aging
Consider a quick yoga session during the day or in the evening! Certain poses can aid in regulating the bowels and decrease bloating. Some yoga poses
that could be helpful for the digestive system include:
- Child’s pose, camel pose
- The twisted lunge
- Revolved chair pose
- Bridge pose
- The supine twist
If certain poses are uncomfortable, you should not overextend yourself, there are usually modifications to the movement you can do and still receive great benefits! Yoga
can help manage the stress of Holiday season by reducing the sympathetic response of the nervous system which is our “fight or flight response”, when we go into “fight or flight” it can negatively affect our digestive
system and in turn cause the digestive system to function improperly. When the stress response is activated, the central nervous system shuts down digestion which causes the slowing down of the digestive muscles and decreased secretions necessary for optimal digestive processes. This can lead to bloating, gas, and constipation.
The digestive system cannot work optimally if the body and mind are constantly stressed.
Practicing a mix of yoga and breathwork techniques has many benefits for mental and physical health and this includes aiding in proper digestion. So, grab a yoga mat, and start moving and breathing!
The gut microbiome houses trillions of microbes that play important roles in our digestion and overall health. These microbes help us breakdown the foods we eat and help with absorption of critical vitamins. When there are more bad bacteria than good bacteria present, it results in a condition known as dysbiosis. When you experience dysbiosis, digestion can become harder and you may have more negative GI symptoms after eating such as bloating, gas, and burping.
can help ease the discomfort associated with bloating, and gas and help your body digest the foods that you eat. Before you start taking a probiotic remember that each person is different, and your needs may not match the needs of the people around you.
Bio-individuality is key in determining which probiotic strains are best for you. Probiotics have very little regulatory oversight, so it is important to identify reputable brands that offer evidence-based research related to their specific product.
I hope you find these GI tips useful on Turkey Day, stay safe, and enjoy!
***The following article is not medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before making changes to your wellness routine. ***