Every year when Christmas rolls around there always seems to be a surge of ads on TV for over-the-counter indigestion remedies— tablets to cure heartburn, bloating, and nausea— all designed to help us cope with the extra amounts of super-rich foods and alcohol we like to indulge in during the Christmas season. This year, instead of reaching for the Rennies try our list of natural approaches to have yourself a merry little (indigestion-free) Christmas

CHEW YOUR FOOD

This may sound like a simple thing, but you would be surprised how many people unconsciously wolf their food down without chewing it properly. This places excess burden on the gut, as the digestive process actually starts with the saliva your mouth produces while chewing your food. Eating more slowly and mindfully will not only help digestion, but can help with weight loss as it takes time for the message to reach the brain from the stomach that we are full. You may find that by taking more time to clean plate, you no longer feel the need to go back for seconds! There have been studies showing that eating too fast and eating much tend to provoke heartburn and acid reflux along with simply eating the wrong things. Filling your stomach to the brim with a heavy meal increases your chances of heartburn by placing added pressure on the abdomen, so slow down and savour!

DIGESTIVE ENZYMES

These little tablets are invaluable when it comes to easing discomfort after a heavy meal. As we age our body produce less natural enzymes, which can give rise to poor digestion. Consuming raw foods and juices provides naturally occurring live enzymes, but very often (especially around the holidays) we simply don’t get enough fresh fruit and veg. Yes, we eat a lot during this time of year, but it’s mostly plum pudding, mince pies, brandy butter, rich stuffing and other such heavy foods. No wonder our stomachs start complaining! If you often find yourself reaching for heartburn tablets after a heavy meal, try taking a digestive enzyme or two instead. They really do help digest rich foods, and as a result may prevent heartburn and acid reflux. Available in most health food shops, be sure to ask for the vegetarian variety.

BICARBONATE OF SODA

This old remedy for heartburn really does work. Mix 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water and drink. Bicarbonate of soda is alkaline and acts to neutralize acid. Avoid making baking soda your go-to remedy if you regularly experience heartburn, as it is high in salt and could cause side effects like fluid retention. However, if you only get occasional bouts of heartburn, it’s an easy and effective remedy.

ALOE VERA

Aloe vera juice reduces inflammation which makes it helpful for any inflammation-related irritation in the esophagus and stomach. Drinking 1/2 cup before meals can help prevent heartburn. Aloe vera also acts as a laxative, so look for brands where the laxative component has been removed, such as in aloe vera powder.

PEPPERMINT TEA

This acts as a carminative, easing indigestion and bloating to soothe and relax the stomach. Make a pot of mint tea after a meal instead of regular tea or coffee. It’s a lovely, refreshing, caffeine-free drink and your stomach will thank you. Just a note: being a carminative, peppermint actually relaxes the esophagus sphincter, so if heartburn is your issue peppermint tea may make it worse. What it’s best for is relieving feelings of being over-full and bloated.

GINGER

This amazing and tasty root helps quell nausea and aid digestion, amongst many other benefits. Make a pot of ginger tea and sip it after a meal or if you wake up in the morning with a nauseous tummy. Ginger is one of the most beneficial things you can eat, a king among anti-inflammatory foods, and is even tasty taken raw if you enjoy a little ginger burn! You can grate it over a breakfast of fresh fruit salad for an little zing to start your day.

Now go on and enjoy the rest of the Christmas festivities with a jolly belly! Best wishes for the holiday season!

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