Holiday season and all the cookies, sweets, egg nog, and overeating often triggers indigestion and heartburn symptoms for many of us. Heartburn causes much pain and discomfort and when it becomes chronic it can potentially affect the subjective quality of life more than serious forms of cardiovascular disease.
During the holidays even those of us that may be fortunate enough not to be a chronic sufferer of this digestive woe, will likely experience a few bouts. Luckily some simple steps can make all the difference of quenching the stomach fire.
The first step is to no overeat. When you eat too much, the simple volume of food going into your gut can overwhelm the esophageal sphincter, the valve that acts as a lid that keeps stomach contents and acids from reaching the sensitive lining of the esophagus. In this case reflux episodes become more frequent, leading to that burning sensation so characteristic of overindulging.
So, keep the portions at bay, eat until you are 3/4 full, try to eat slowly, more mindfully and that will help you to become more aware of when you have had enough.
Other important steps include to eat when relaxed, if you are stressed then this can affect your digestive process, produce excess acid levels, leading to more burn. So no arguments at the dinner table, only laughs and good cheer will be supportive for keeping the food down.
Another good strategy is to chew some gum after your meals. Chewing gum, especially the sugar free options, help stimulate saliva production with extra amylase enzyme. The enzymes support digestion and the saliva helps wash and clear digestive juices from the esophagus, alleviating heartburn. The side benefit would be fresher breath for socializing and mistletoe possibilities.
Another all time favorite that I like to recommend to my clients is to consider a trial of DGL tablets, (deglycyrrhizinated licorice root tablets). DGL is a natural health supplement derived from licorice root that has been shown to soothe and promote healing of stomach ulcers. In Europe it is actually considered an anti-ulcer first line treatment. I have also seen good relief with mild heartburn. Chew on a tablet 15 minutes before meals to prevent the symptoms.
If all else fails, then there is good old Gaviscon. I prefer the tablets, the Max-relief, it contains alginic acid from seaweed and magnesium as an alkalizing agent. It is a soluble type fiber that creates a foam like barrier that floats at the top of the stomach; reducing reflux symptoms by keeping the acid down in the stomach where it belongs. Just chew on 2 to 4 tablets when needed and you will get up to 3-4 hours of relief. Be sure to chew it well and drink a glass of water to create the barrier while keeping you regular.
So enjoy the festivities with these simple steps and don't get burned by heartburn this holiday season.