It’s happening to me already – treats abound and I find myself unable to resist having *just a few* of them. Except that just a few often turns into a few more, and then a few more, and then suddenly I have a stomachache and regret that I didn’t actually stop at just a few. Yes, I find it challenging to have treats in moderation, especially when they are around me all the time. Outside of the holidays, I just don’t keep them in my house in large quantities and it is less of a problem, but come Christmas, those treats are everywhere, and I have a habit of going overboard and regretting it later. And I regret it mostly because it really affects my digestion – gas, bloating, feeling overfull, loose stools – it all happens to me in December.
If you are like me and are concerned about the effects the holidays will have on your digestion, I have 3 tips to share with you. These are 3 basic, foundational things I do to support the healthy functioning of my digestion. I try to do them most days anyway, but I always ramp up the amounts and the frequency in December to help offset some of those unpleasant side effects I mentioned above.
Probiotic Foods keep your microbiome well stocked with healthy bacteria
This includes anything that is properly fermented and does not have sugar in it. For instance:
- PLAIN yogurt (add your own fruit) with live cultures.
- Kombucha or Water Kefir that has most/all of the sugar fermented away (check the label for sugar content, it should be very low, <5g in the whole bottle).
- Sauerkraut or any other fermented veggies – my favorites are at the farmer’s market, Cool Springs Ranch (google), and the Wild Brine brand in the cooler section at most grocery stores.
- Kim Chi (if you like spicy!).
- Cultured coconut milk (my favourite!) I buy this product at Dad’s (It’s called The Cultured Coconut) and it is, by far, the most potent and effective probiotic food I have ever found.
I try to have 1-4 tbsp of fermented food in my diet most days. Start at 1 tbsp and increase as needed, depending on how your gut feels. Remember not to heat these foods as it does kill the healthy bacteria.
Fiber keeps you regular
Fiber is important to keep you regular, feed those healthy bacteria in your gut (and the new ones you’re getting from your probiotic food), and help bind and sweep out your colon more efficiently.
- My favorite fiber product is Nutracleanse, which you can buy at most health food stores. I also have some great recipes on our blog using this product.
- Other fiber products I like are ground flax and oat bran and sometimes psyllium, although it’s usually better used in combination with the flax or bran.
1-2 heaping tbsp of a fiber product per day usually does the trick (note: if you are using psyllium, start smaller, at 1/2 – 1 tsp). You should be aiming for a total of AT LEAST 30g of fiber in your diet per day. Make sure to drink lots of water so that you don’t get backed up!
Apple Cider Vinegar improves digestion
My favorite go-to when my digestion is off, apple cider vinegar supports your digestion in so many ways. Its acidity helps to increase the acidity of your stomach to aid breakdown of food, it has active enzymes that also help with food breakdown, it’s a mild anti-fungal, and it stimulates the flow of your digestive juices (hence the salivation when you drink it).
- be sure to choose one with the “mother,” aka the gunk on the bottom, and shake well before using.
- I usually start with 1 tbsp diluted in water at meals, but I will add another tbsp or two after eating if food is sitting heavy in my stomach. You can dilute it as much as you need to, to make it easy to get down.
If you have or suspect you have an ulcer (the common sign is stomach pain when eating) OR if you have inflammation in your esophagus (e.g., due to reflux), then apple cider vinegar is not advised.
Finding yourself dealing with digestion problems regularly? Contact the clinic to set up an appointment. I’d be happy to help you figure out a long-term health solution!
By: Dr. Michelle Marcoux, ND