Are holiday digestive woes unavoidable?
Thanksgiving is a feast of the senses; savory, sweet, tart and creamy foods all vying for space on the same table. The sights and smells alone have your mouth watering as you tuck in, and don't forget that glass of wine or champagne that often accompanies a holiday meal. Unfortunately, all of the abundance can be an invitation for gastrointestinal distress. Along with eating a wide variety of foods that you're not used to, you may find yourself consuming far more than normal.
Part of the reason for overeating is the delay in awareness that you're full. "‘It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to send a signal to the stomach to let you know that you're full,' says Erma Levy, a research dietician at MD Anderson."1 Twenty minutes is plenty of time for seconds or even thirds if you're a fast eater. By the time your brain recognizes you're full, you may be bloated and uncomfortable.
Thank goodness Thanksgiving only comes once a year, right? In truth, there are many more opportunities for gastrointestinal upset over the ensuing five weeks leading up to the Christmas and New Year's holidays and all of the rich, sweet treats and large meals that go along with these occasions.
Overindulgence and digestive enzymes
Knowledge is power, so before we head into the 'most wonderful time of the year,' arm yourself with information and tools that can help you enjoy the season without the inevitable upset stomach. For example, consider taking a digestive enzyme supplement. "Digestive enzymes are only available in limited quantity, so the larger the amount of food you eat, the longer it takes to digest."2
Our bodies rely on digestive enzymes to break down large food molecules into tiny "building blocks units...These can then be readily and rapidly absorbed through the gut wall and into the bloodstream for transport to the liver and from there to other parts of the body."3 When there aren't sufficient digestive enzymes, the food can sit in your stomach longer, making your feel bloated, gassy and uncomfortable.
Give your gut some extra love
Another potential cause of gastrointestinal discomfort occurs when the gut flora gets out of balance. Your gut is teeming with microbiota, consisting of somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 trillion bacteria, both good and bad. The microbiota participates in the digestive process, and when the balance between good and bad bacteria becomes altered, digestive distress can occur.
The gut also plays host to the immune system, and a healthy gut can help you avoid the winter bugs that can be an unwelcome addition to your holiday plans.
One way to manage the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut is by taking a daily probiotic supplement. "Healthy individuals may benefit from taking probiotics -- there is some evidence suggesting probiotics can reduce the risk of infectious diseases, including upper respiratory tract infections in healthy populations."4
GHT is excited to announce our newest probiotic supplement, SevenLac, which includes two extra beneficial probiotic strains to help you enjoy a healthy and comfortable holiday season this year.
1 Blackburn, Kellie Bramlet (2018), What happens when you overeat?, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
3 Digestive enzymes, Science Learning Hub – Pokapū Akoranga Pūtaiao.
4 What is The Role of Gut Bacteria in Human Health?, The European Food Information Council (EUFIC).
NOTE: The The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Science Learning Hub – Pokapū Akoranga Pūtaiao, and EUFIC, have not reviewed or approved the above article.