It's that magical time of year again; the holiday decorations are up, friends are planning parties, and everyone is feeling warm, fuzzy, and grateful. For some of us, however, this festive season can mean exposure to a bunch of foods and drinks that are less than friendly to our digestion. The best strategy, of course, is to avoid inflammatory or trigger foods—like kombucha, cruciferous veggies, mushrooms, and dairy, which can all cause bloating—as much as we can. Another option is to experiment in the kitchen and try to make some healthier versions of our favorite comfort foods.
But if these two preventive strategies fall through, and you find yourself regretting those cream-filled mashed potatoes (as delicious as they were), it's a great idea to have some digestion-saving natural remedies, like the ones below, on hand.
1. Activated charcoal.
Mbg health experts can't get enough of activated charcoal. And according to Dr. Hardick, it's especially helpful if you've eaten something that really doesn't agree with you: "Activated charcoal’s extremely porous surface holds a strong negative charge that attracts positively charged toxins and other chemicals, nixing them in your bowel movements. Think of activated charcoal as a magnet that binds unwanted substances to its surface and then releases them through elimination, yet its unique makeup doesn’t irritate or harm your gut." So if you're in real gut distress, this might be a good place to turn.
Ginger is an all-time favorite superfoods; it's super versatile, inexpensive, and it tastes amazing. According to Jonathan Galland, a leader in integrative health education, "Ginger’s amazing role in cooking is just the start—the spice is also well-known for its many medicinal benefits. For centuries, ginger has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat colds, stomachaches, nausea, indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea." So stock up on fresh ginger and ginger tea, and you'll be ready for any kind of digestion emergency.
If you're not a fan of ginger, there are a ton of other herbs that can be great to soothe the GI tract. Slippery elm, marshmallow root, and chamomile are a few that Dr. Jessica Hyman—a naturopathic doctor based in Sedona, Arizona—recommends to her patients. "Any of these teas can be very helpful for calming an upset stomach. The slippery elm and marshmallow root help decrease inflammation in the gut and can soothe the mucus membranes of the intestines. This can provide much-needed relief from painful acid reflux or uncomfortable bloating." And that sounds good to us.
There's no better after dinner drink than a generous dash of lavender bitters in sparkling water; this combo will help yoo digest a meal before bed and provide some end-of-the-day stress relief. (Thank you, lavender.) Bitters have been used medicinally for years to stimulate stomach acid, and there a ton of different flavors to choose from. Some favorites are cascarilla (a medicinal tree bark) and gentian (a super-bitter root). If you want to try them out, you'll be happy to find out that they're super-reasonably priced. What are you waiting for?
5. Digestive enzymes.
According to Dr. Vincent Pedre, a functional medicine doctor and author of the book Happy Gut, "If you struggle with post-meal gas, bloating, and other problems, your body might not be making sufficient digestive enzymes... For many patients, supplements that replenish digestive enzymes can reduce or eliminate those problems, especially while you’re healing your gut." Digestive enzymes come in capsules or chewable after-dinner mints, which are great for when your digestion is feeling a little sluggish.
6. Apple cider vinegar.
ACV is a staple in every great wellness regime. Dr. Wendie Trubow, a functional medicine physician and apple cider vinegar enthusiast recommends "using apple cider vinegar for gut support. It is a gentle way to improve digestion and can also assist with improving abdominal bloating." It can also be great to wake up the stomach acid before a meal. You can do this by diluting it in water and drinking it down before a meal.
Food coma? Here's why you get so tired after you eat—explained by science.
And are you ready to learn more about how gut health is the foundation for the health of your entire body? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Dr. Vincent Pedre.