After enjoying indulgent amounts of holiday eggnog or New Year’s libations, it may be time to give your stomach a break. Many people find that certain foods and drinks mess with their digestive systems. Luckily, however, you can often make yourself feel better with some TLC and handy tips from doctors who know how to eat their way to good health.
- Fill up on fiber: Consider dietary fiber your entire body’s best friend. By nourishing and regulating the digestive tract, fiber helps keep everything in balance. As explained by Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology, in an article written by Frank W. Jackson, M.D., fiber is the part of a plant that is not digested by the stomach or small intestine; it arrives in your colon unchanged. Fiber promotes healthy digestive function, and it powerfully nourishes the “good” bacteria in your digestive track. Prebiotic fibers, for example, can help increase calcium absorption, enhance your immune system, control weight and more.
The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) notes that while the recommended intake of fiber is 20 to 35 grams per day, the average American only gets about 10 to 15 grams per day in their diet. Find ways to include ample amounts of whole grains, beans, nuts and berries in your daily diet. The ACG advises that individuals should always increase fiber levels gradually while also increasing fluid intake as well. Whether you’re struggling with diabetes or trying to control your cholesterol levels, fiber will help the fight.
- Stomp out heartburn: If you overindulge on chocolate and peppermint over the holidays, you may suffer the consequences. Red wine and cheddar cheese can also trigger heartburn in those who are susceptible. These foods, as well as generally fatty and caffeinated foods, can lead to a reflux of gastric acid into the esophagus, also known as heartburn. Fortunately, however, you can stop a pattern of after meal heartburn, even if you went overboard this December.
According to nutritionist Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, there are several ways to prevent future digestive pain. First, avoid eating large meals, which only increase the volume in the stomach and make heartburn more likely. Try not to lie down for at least two hours after eating, and opt for a glass of water after dinner instead of an alcoholic beverage. Even if you’re not one of the 15 million Americans suffering from heartburn, Magee’s tips are good advice.
While you don’t necessarily have to deny yourself those holiday goodies and celebratory drinks, it’s always a good idea to take your digestive system into consideration when things start to feel off-balance. Generally, your stomach will let you know when it’s not happy, so pay attention and be mindful about how you choose to refuel. If you suffer from persistent heartburn, stomach pain or other bothersome symptoms, be sure to seek advice from your healthcare provider.
For more information from Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology, visit www.gicare.com.
Visit the American College of Gastroenterology at www.acg.gi.org.