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Help for the Holiday Bloat

Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition


A trip to the store, the break room at work, Grandma’s house, and family gatherings bring all kinds of treats. Cookies, candies, pies and pastries, hot chocolate and cider, wine and other alcoholic beverages all tickle the taste buds. For many, these treats and overeating create a bloated, uncomfortable belly that leaves you miserable for hours or days after the indulgence. Here are some tips to help the “holiday bloat.”


Digestive Enzymes


Holiday foods and treats are often high in sugar, white flour, or fat. These foods and beverages contribute to indigestion and bloating primarily due to sugar fermenting and a lack of natural enzymes and fiber.


To help your body manage the stress of holiday food challenges, consider digestive enzymes like Digestive Helper. Take 1-2 capsules with a snack or 1-3 capsules with a meal. If you eat food that you are sensitive to, use at least 2 capsules each meal. Use enough so that you are not burping, belching, or feeling the immediate bloat with your meal. If you still feel uncomfortably full an hour or so after the meal, you may take 1 additional capsule.


Digestive Helper provides plant-based enzymes that help breakdown proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It also contains special enzymes that help digestion of gluten and dairy/casein. This can be extremely helpful if you are following a gluten-free/dairy-free diet and have a hidden or intentional exposure.


If you have significant food sensitivities, you may find it helpful to take 1-2 capsules of Repair Plus or Quercetin along with Digestive Helper with meals that are a challenge. These nutrients provide additional aid with gluten and histamine management.


Protein Digestion and Stomach Acid


Some individuals may experience indigestion with a large serving of protein, like roast beef, steak, or chicken. If your stomach still feels full 2-3 hours later after you finished the meal and you are belching, it is likely you may lack adequate stomach acid. Using an antacid may temporarily provide relief, but it does not address the underlying need for better digestion.


Stomach acid production requires thiamin/vitamin B1, zinc, and salt. Many individuals lack adequate thiamin intake relative to their needs. High carbohydrate intake, i.e. white flour and sugar, dramatically increase the need for thiamin/vitamin B1 in your diet.


Alcohol and high sugar beverages like sodas, iced tea, fruit smoothies, fruit juice, cappuccinos, lattes etc. can also deplete thiamin stores in your body. Gut dysbiosis, or germ overgrowth, further interferes with healthy gut flora that naturally makes B vitamins. This means a higher need for thiamin and other B vitamins.


Zinc is the second highest trace mineral in concentration in the human body after iron. A trace mineral refers to a small need, much less than other minerals like calcium and magnesium. Zinc is essential for digestive health, stomach acid production, and breakdown of carbohydrates, in addition to its need for immune health and so much more.


Despite the abundance of food, western diets often lack adequate zinc. Individuals who are on a strict plant-based diet, consume alcohol, have underlying poor absorption or other digestive concerns, or athletes or others who heavily perspire frequently need more zinc in their diet or need to supplement.


Unprocessed Celtic or Himalayan salt is preferable over common table salt. The former types of salt have naturally occurring minerals and have a much better taste. Common table salt is highly processed and may have dextrose, a simple sugar from corn syrup, added to it.


Preparation Ahead of Time for those with Food Sensitivities


An underlying history of indigestion, gas, bloating, burping, belching with holiday foods and eating out can be a challenge. Anticipation of these issues can cause concern, or even create food phobias. Some individuals may avoid eating at parties or events because of food sensitivities.


If you have severe food intolerances be diligent about protecting your needs. Talk with your host before the event or check out the menu before arrival, as this can help you make good choices so you don’t feel left out or can’t find anything to eat. If it is a potluck event, bring a dish that you know is safe for you. Chances are there are others who have similar concerns.


If you do eat something that may not agree with you, use enough digestive enzymes to help you break down the food. Extra quercetin, bromelain, papain, curcumin/turmeric, and ginger can be very helpful too.


Bloat


Carbohydrates, alcohol, and germ overgrowth in the stomach and intestinal tract is a recipe for bloating, fermentation, and an uncomfortable belly. If this is your norm throughout the year, you need to do some significant gut work to get rid of the yeast and/or bacterial overgrowth and dysbiosis. Lots of holiday treats will make you feel even more miserable. If you have treats, have them with a meal and in very small amounts. Support to consider beforehand to help reduce the bloat may include Oregano Oil,Turmeric Gold,Monolaurin/Lauricidin, and Super Immune Booster along with Digestive Helper. These products may also be used once the bloat has started.


Along with the yeast/germ overgrowth, sugar craving may escalate. This provokes more stress on the gut flora, gut barrier, insulin and blood sugar management, etc. Use support such as GI & Muscle Helper,Cinnamon Plus,Gluco Plus,LeptiSlim, and/or Fiber Helper to assist with these concerns.


Queasiness


Leftovers, overeating, and food that may not have been refrigerated soon enough may leave you feeling a little queasy and with a noisy tummy. If the food sat out a little too long, consider Oregano oil, with digestive enzymes, probiotics, and/or BioPure Protein for a queasy tummy.


Use a full serving at the first sign of queasiness to calm things down. If things are still a little off in an hour or later, repeat again as needed over the course of the next few hours. Our Oregano Oil is quite strong. If you have a very sensitive, sore stomach, use other support like probiotics, GI & Muscle Helper, BioPure Protein, and Monolaurin/Lauricidin.


If you have some occasional indigestion and reflux, consider d-Limonene to help move food down the digestive tract. It also supports gallbladder function.


Alcohol


Alcohol, especially with other high carbohydrate rich foods, can easily lead to or worsen gas, bloating, and indigestion. It puts extra detoxification work on your liver, kidneys, and nervous system. Brain fog, fatigue, skin itchiness and rash may also worsen with this combination. Extra nutritional support with mindful alcohol use can help dampen the bodily stress. Daily Detoxify,Preparty,Activator Plus and Pantethine support detoxification with the liver and kidneys and help clear brain fog.


Other Tips for Digestion


Here are some additional tips to help the holiday “bloat”.


Chew your food thoroughly until it is liquid in your mouth. “Inhaling” your food adds a lot more work to the digestive process and can easily worsen the burping, belching, and bloating. Chronic habits like this open the door to long-term digestive issues.


Avoid large intakes of ice water or other iced beverages with a meal if possible. During digestion, blood flow is shunted towards the digestive tract as it is an energy intensive process. Ice constricts blood flow to your stomach and digestive tract and contributes to indigestion.


A large amount of water or beverages immediately prior to, or with your meal, also dilutes the amount of acid in your stomach. This too can contribute to a bloated feeling.


High amounts of stress interfere with good digestion. Emotional stress and energy intensive activities engage the fight/flight sympathetic autonomic nervous system. This impairs stomach acid and pancreatic enzyme production. This stress challenges the energetics of digestion and leads to indigestion, reflux, burping, belching, diarrhea or constipation, stinky stool, and feeling miserable.


Take 2-5 minutes to do some deep belly breathing before eating. A focus on gratitude and thanksgiving rather than irritation, frustration, or fear also helps your parasympathetic autonomic nervous system with digestion. If you are an athlete, take 30-60 minutes or more after exercise before you eat to let your body settle down into rest/relax/digest parasympathetic mode.


A short walk or stroll may also help you feel more comfortable after a meal. Lying down with a full stomach can worsen indigestion and contribute to reflux.


Stress eating often leads to overconsumption of empty calorie/nutrient poor foods and regret when you feel the aftereffects from the binge.


Use natural bitter herbs and greens and spices like ginger tea or root to help with digestion.


Additional tips for digestive health may be found at: