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Tag Archive | "digestive system"

Five tips for good gut health during the holidays

Both the stress and the fun of the holiday season can take a toll on gut health. Take extra steps this season and beyond to feel your best. Photo (c) Revelant - Fotolia.com

Both the stress and the fun of the holiday season can take a toll on gut health. Take extra steps this season and beyond to feel your best. Photo (c) Revelant – Fotolia.com

(StatePoint) The holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year and you may have noticed you’re more prone to colds and upset stomach when you’re stressed. Stress tends to slow the digestive process. What’s more, 70 percent of the immune system lies in the digestive system, according to findings reported in “Clinical & Experimental Immunology.”

Unfortunately, one of the most stressful seasons coincides with one of the most indulgent. To help, Vincent Pedre, MD, author of the new book, “Happy Gut: The Cleansing Program to Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Eliminate Pain,” is offering useful tips to lessen digestive upset and keep your gut healthy over the holidays.

• Pack healthful snacks. When traveling, people tend to grab unhealthy foods for convenience. Pack nutritious foods like carrots, apples, almonds and frozen yogurt to keep the body strong. Foods like yogurt, which contain probiotics, not only address digestive issues, but are said to help stave off colds. One study found that those who took a probiotic supplement with Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a type of healthy probiotic bacteria, recovered earlier and reported less severe symptoms.

• Eat mindfully. Eating in a hurry is a major no-no for good gut health, and makes you more likely to overeat, since it takes the brain about 20 minutes to recognize when you’re full. Plus, eating quickly can cause gas, acid indigestion and bloating.

“When we stop and really enjoy what we’re eating we’re less likely to overdo it, and we’ll avoid issues like emotional eating,” says Dr. Pedre.

• Relieve stress. Take some “me time.” Maintaining an exercise routine and practicing deep breathing relaxation techniques can do wonders for mental and digestive health, and help alleviate stress’ negative effects on the digestive system, such as gas, acid reflux and stomach cramps.

• Maintain a sleep routine. Get an adequate night’s rest of at least eight hours nightly. Your body and gut like predictability. Plus, staying up late could make you more likely to visit the fridge and eat that piece of chocolate cake that’ll lead to an upset stomach.

• Help your body naturally. Overeating or drinking is easy to do this time of year, but it can cause stomach distress. Check out local natural product retailers, which offer homoeopathic medicines like Nux vomica to relieve nausea, heartburn, acid indigestion or fullness associated with overindulgence of food or drink. While these uses have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration for efficacy, Nux vomica is one of the most popular homeopathic medicines. It’s also easy to take. The pellets are quickly absorbed under the tongue without water, as opposed to being absorbed through the stomach, which may not be functioning at its peak. As a homeopathic medicine, it has no known side effects such as constipation, diarrhea, gas or drowsiness.

To learn about relieving a variety of acute stomach issues, explore the Boiron Medicine Finder app. This free resource, available on Android and iOS devices, allows users to find the right homeopathic medicine for many everyday conditions.

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Pass on holiday digestive woes

By Richard N. Waldman, MD President, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

During the holiday season, delicious and decadent foods are everywhere. Foods that have the potential to throw the digestive system for a loop are all around. Problems of the digestive system such as constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, and gas occur more frequently in women than in men and may be made worse by changes in hormone levels caused by menstruation and pregnancy. Women are also more likely to develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common digestive disorder marked by persistent abdominal pain and bowel changes. IBS sufferers may have a strong digestive reaction to stress, large meals, caffeine, dairy products, and large amounts of alcohol—typical staples of the holiday season. Try these tips to avoid seasonal digestive consequences: Eating large meals and not getting enough fiber can trigger constipation. Symptoms may include having fewer than three bowel movements a week, firm or hard-to-pass stools, abdominal swelling or bloating, straining during bowel movements, and a full feeling after a bowel movement. The Fix: Eat at least 25 grams of fiber each day, drink plenty of fluids, exercise, and use the bathroom when you have the urge. Your doctor may also prescribe laxatives or other therapies. You may develop a case of diarrhea—defined as having three or more loose bowel movements in a day—after eating or drinking foods that contain harmful viruses or bacteria. Dairy products, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, certain additives, or medications such as antibiotics can also be a cause. The Fix: Eat hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Skip foods that have been sitting out on the buffet too long. If you have diarrhea, drink fluids to keep hydrated. Drink liquids that contain salt such as sports drinks or broth if diarrhea lasts more than a few hours. Avoid drinks that include dairy products, caffeine, or sugar which can make diarrhea worse. Rich, fatty, or acidic foods, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, mints, and big meals can cause stomach acid to push back into your esophagus and may lead to heartburn, a burning feeling in your chest and throat. The Fix: Avoid overeating. Instead of lying down after a meal, try taking a walk. Gas and bloating can be triggered by hard-to-digest foods such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, and dairy products (for lactose intolerant people). The Fix: Pay attention to which foods give you gas and avoid them. Your doctor may suggest an over-the-counter treatment. Talk to your doctor if your abdominal or digestive discomfort persists. Symptoms that have been present for at least 12 weeks out of the last 12 months may be a sign of IBS or a more serious condition, such as colon cancer. For more information, the ACOG Patient Education Pamphlet “Problems of the Digestive System” is available at www.acog.org/publications/patient_education.

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